What better way to enjoy a summer evening than kicking back at the beach house, sipping margaritas on the deck and dining on fresh seafood and produce from the local markets?
Cookbook author Barbara Scott-Goodman captures the evocative moods of summer in her latest book, The Beach House Cookbook (Chronicle, 2005, $24.95).
Aided by 156 pages of color photography, the book contains 75 recipes of mostly traditional beach fare: seafood chowders; lobster rolls; boiled lobster; steamed mussels; grilled vegetables and fruit cobblers and sundaes. Don't look for taste innovations here. The recipes are predictable and fairly basic, sometimes flavored with Latin and Asian accents. The best are those, such as the Shrimp & Snap Pea Salad, that rely on seasonal produce and clean, fresh flavors.
Most recipes are easy to prepare (as beach food should be), although a few call for ingredients or steps that seem to be more trouble than they're worth. The gazpacho recipe called for roasted corn and grilled shrimp, but I think the soup would have been no less satisfying if the shrimp and corn were boiled.
I contemplated making the shrimp fritters, but didn't have any chickpea flour in my pantry. And I wasted an extra cup of beaujolais on grilled peaches, when I'm sure one cup would have sufficed.
I also caught a couple of mistakes in the book. For example, the grilled-peaches recipe called for four large peaches cut in half and each half placed in a bowl. But the recipe said it served six.
But somehow it feels unseemly to quibble over such minor mistakes in a cookbook meant to be used on a summer vacation. So relax, cook what looks easy and good, and pour another margarita.
Shrimp & Snap Pea Salad With Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as main course
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (about 32 to 36 a pound)
2 cups snapped peas (about 1/2 pound), trimmed
3 scallions, trimmed and minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 to 5 dashes hot sauce
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup chopped peanuts or cashews
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, run under cold water, peel and devein.
Meanwhile, bring another pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the peas and boil, uncovered, until just tender and still bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop the cooking.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, ginger and hot sauce in a small bowl until well combined.
Put the shrimp, snap peas and scallions in a large bowl, add the vinaigrette and toss well. Divide the mixture among 4 plates and garnish each serving with some diced mango, chopped nuts and lime wedges.
Per serving: 455 calories; 29 grams protein; 30 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 14 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams fiber; 252 milligrams cholesterol; 573 milligrams sodium