Seafood Extravaganza

Seafood Extravaganza
Chances are that many of your friends and family have been helping you and your fiance with wedding planning. Wouldn’t it be fun to host a small party for them – just to say “thank you?”

Your party doesn’t have to be a fancy affair. Keep it small. Limit the guest list to family and special friends. You’re not expected to invite the entire wedding party. Keep the event intimate and informal.

Coordinate the menu with the tone of your party. If you’re planning a casual event, opt to serve the food buffet-style. Tailor your food to the time of day. If you are hosting a luncheon, you may want to stick to less elaborate, lunch-appropriate dishes. Generally lunch is a small meal so your spread doesn’t have to be as large as an evening event. If you’re hosting a dinner buffet, add a couple of passed hors d’oeuvres. Do the passing yourself and be sure to speak with each guest individually. After all, the party is your gift to them.

Set up your buffet table in an area that’s easily accessible. When decorating the buffet table keep it simple. The focal point of the table should be the food.

Coordinate beverages with the cuisine. If you are serving red meat offer red wine, if you are serving seafood or poultry offer white wine. You may also want to offer beer. Be sure to provide iced tea or lemonade and pitchers of water, too.

Seafood is a favorite choice for a small and casual party. All of my recipes in this issue are delicious and easy to prepare and most can be made the day before serving. Mix and match the menu items to fit the theme of your party.

It’s easy to be a hostess! This is how we do it in the south. Offer your guests a glass of Sangria! Sangria! and pass a tray of Cornmeal Fried Oysters with Jalapeño Aioli as they arrive. Serve Outer Banks Clam Chowder in a crock pot or chafing dish with ramekins or small mugs on your buffet. Mesclun Salad with Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Champagne Vinaigrette may be served on individual salad plates or from a large platter. If you choose to serve Steamed Snow Crab Legs with Lowcountry Cocktail Sauce, be sure to provide warm moist towels for guests to clean their hands. Cold Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce is an excellent buffet item for a luncheon or dinner. For an entree, Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese may be served buffet-style, as tapas or served over hot pasta. End your meal with Lemon Lush Parfaits. They’re a show-stopping dessert!

Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! Spend some quality time with the people you love. Congratulations!

p.s. Send me your catering questions! I’ll do my best to answer your questions and address your concerns. Contact me directly through my website.

Seafood Extravaganza

Cornmeal Fried Oysters with Jalapeño Aioli
Outer Banks Clam Chowder
Mesclun Salad with Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Champagne Vinaigrette
Sangria! Sangria!
Steamed Snow Crab Legs with Lowcountry Cocktail Sauce
Cold Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce
Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese (Girades mi Feta)
Lemon Lush Parfaits

Cornmeal Fried Oysters with Jalapeño Aioli

Cornmeal Fried Oysters with Jalapeño Aioli
Sweet and salty South Carolina Lowcountry oysters are the best on the planet!
For the aioli:
1 tablespoon diced jalapeno peppers
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
For the oysters:
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 pint oysters, drained
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
Dash cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Place jalapenos, mayonnaise and lime juice in a small bowl; mix well. Stir in parsley; set aside. In a deep fryer, heat oil to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cornmeal, salt and peppers in a shallow dish. Place some of the oysters in the cornmeal mixture and toss to coat well. Shake off excess. Fry the oysters, in batches, until they are crispy and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with aioli. Serves 4 to 6.

Outer Banks Clam Chowder

Outer Banks Clam Chowder
The word chowder comes from the French word for “stew pot” but chowder is an American original, developed during Colonial times. To be true chowder, the soup must contain a pork product, onions and potatoes.
1 pint clams
4 slices bacon, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup clam liquor and water
1 cup diced red potatoes
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
Chopped fresh Italian parsley
Drain clams and save liquor. Pour liquor into a 1-cup measuring cup; add water if needed to make a full cup of liquid. Chop clams; set aside. Fry bacon until lightly brown. Add onion and saute until tender. Place bacon and onion in a medium saucepan. Add clam liquor and water, potatoes, seasonings and clams. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add milk and cream; heat through. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6.

Mesclun Salad with Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Champagne Vinaigrette

Mesclun Salad with Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Champagne Vinaigrette
Wrap the scallops in prosciutto before baking for a different twist on a classic recipe.
12 slices bacon
24 sea scallops
Freshly ground black pepper
Mesclun salad greens
For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
⅛ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut bacon slices in half to make 24 pieces. Wrap each scallop in a piece of bacon. Place wrapped scallops on a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with black pepper; to taste. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until scallops are cooked through. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and mustard; blend well. With wire whisk, slowly incorporate oil until thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place greens in a large salad bowl; add dressing and toss to coat. Place dressed greens on 8 individual salad plates. Add 3 bacon-wrapped scallops to each salad. Serves 8.

Sangria! Sangria!

Sangria! Sangria!
The BEST sangria recipe I’ve been able to hone to perfection! If you like a sweeter sangria, use ginger ale in place of club soda.
1 (750 milliliter) bottle pinot grigio
½ cup brandy
½ cup triple sec
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup orange juice
¼ cup sugar (optional)
2 cups fresh pineapple cubes
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1 lemon, sliced into rings
1 lime, sliced into rings
1 pint fresh strawberries, halved
1 cup club soda or ginger ale, optional
In a large pitcher, mix together the wine, brandy, triple sec, lemon juice, orange juice and sugar. Add pineapple, grapes and citrus slices. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. Add strawberries just before serving. For a fizzy sangria, stir in club soda or ginger ale before serving. Serves 6.

Steamed Snow Crab Legs with Lowcountry Cocktail Sauce

Steamed Snow Crab Legs with Lowcountry Cocktail Sauce
I know that many chefs advocate using crab boil seasonings, but I like the simplicity of the naturally sweet and rich flavor of crab legs that have been steamed.
For the cocktail sauce:
½ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
For the snow crab legs:
3 to 4 cups water
2 pounds snow crab legs, frozen
Melted butter, for dipping
Make cocktail sauce by combining ketchup, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl; set aside. In a large steamer pot with strainer insert, bring 3 to 4 cups water to a boil. (Water should be just below the level of the strainer portion of the pot.) Rinse ice from frozen crab legs and place in the strainer insert of the pot. Cover and steam for 4 to 6 minutes or until heated through. Serve crab legs with cocktail sauce and melted butter for dipping. Serves 4.

Cold Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce

Cold Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce
Delicious served chilled or at room temperature. It’s always a hit!
For the dill sauce:
¼ cup fresh dill weed, chopped
1 cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
For the salmon:
1 (2-pound) center-cut salmon fillet
4 cups water
½ cups dry white wine
1 stalk celery, sliced
½ red onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon salt
Suggested garnishes:
Red onion, chopped
Hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 lemon, sliced thinly
1 small jar capers, drained
Fresh dill weed
Make dill sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl; refrigerate until ready to serve. To prepare the salmon, place all ingredients except for the salmon in a shallow pot or fish poacher. Bring to a boil and let let simmer for 15 minutes. On extremely low heat, add the salmon fillet and cover. Poach for 12 to 15 minutes or until desired doneness. When salmon is cooked through, remove from cooking liquid to a platter. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Assemble salmon on platter with chopped red onion, chopped hard-boiled eggs, lemon slices, capers and fresh dill weed. Serve with dill sauce on the side. For appetizers serve with water crackers or toasted baguette slices. Serves 10.

Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese (Girades mi Feta)

Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese (Girades mi Feta)
A fabulous Greek recipe that’s perfect for small plates and great served over hot pasta!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (3.25-ounce) jar capers, drained
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. Sauté briefly, without allowing the garlic to brown, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stirring well, and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring frequently, until juices are reduced and sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add capers and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread half of sauce in a lightly greased baking dish and top with the shrimp. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with the crumbled feta. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, in a preheated 350 degree oven, until bubbling hot and the shrimp are pink. Serve with crusty rustic bread or crostini. Serves 6 to 8.

Lemon Lush Parfaits

Lemon Lush Parfaits
This is one of my all-time favorite desserts! This recipe is typically prepared in a 9×13-inch baking dish. If you want to serve it in champagne glasses, the instructions for deconstructing follow at the end of the recipe.
2 (3.4-ounce) packages instant lemon pudding mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed in refrigerator, divided
Chopped pecans, to garnish
Prepare instant pudding according to package directions; refrigerate. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, butter and chopped pecans; mix well. Spread mixture in the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned; cool. With an electric mixer combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 cup frozen whipped topping until well blended; spread evenly over cooled crust. Top with lemon pudding. Spread remainder of whipped topping over lemon pudding layer. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Serves 12.

*To deconstruct for parfaits: Prepare pudding according to package directions; refrigerate. Bake crust as directed; cool and crumble. Make cream cheese layer according to the recipe. In champagne glasses, sprinkle ¾ teaspoon of the crumbled crust in the bottom of each glass. Top with a dollop of cream cheese mixture; tap glass to settle evenly. Add a layer of pudding; tap glass to settle evenly. Repeat layers. Top with whipped topping and garnish with chopped pecans. This recipe also works well in wine glasses! Serves 6 to 8.

Cuisine, Food Styling and Table Design: Catering by Debbi Covington

Catering by Debbi Covington

Photography: Susan DeLoach Photography 


Link to purchase Celebrate Everything!:
Link to column “Everyday Gourmet”:

Debbi Covington is a chef, caterer, cookbook author and food columnist from Beaufort, SC. She has written two cookbooks, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon and also writes the food column “Everyday Gourmet” in Beaufort’s Lowcountry Weekly newspaper. Debbi has been featured as a “Master of Entertaining” in Southern Living magazine and her recipes have been published in multiple cookbooks including Southern Living’s Best Kept Secrets of the South’s Best Cooks and The Best of The Best of South Carolina. Her cuisine has been photographed for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. She has been voted “Best Caterer” in Beaufort, SC since 2010. Debbi has a passion for cuisine and delights in creating seasonal and locally inspired menus.

Celebrate Everything!

The MUST HAVE cookbook for all new brides! Great wedding gift, bridal party gift or guest book! —- Chef Debbi Covington, author of Dining Under the Carolina Moon, has written a new cookbook! Infused with high spirits and full of delicious recipes, Celebrate Everything! is a delightful book that inspires cooking and entertaining throughout the year with lots of new reasons to eat, drink and be merry! Twenty-seven menus with 190 recipes are included in the cookbook. Some celebrate holidays – with heartfelt traditions to enjoy with friends and family. Some celebrate special moments that just give us an excuse to party! All of the menus include recipes for several courses along with suggestions for appropriate wines or other beverages. The dishes all work together as a complete event, yet there’s room for your imagination. Life is full of happy surprises! Good feelings and good times are meant to be shared with others. This collection will spark your enthusiasm and you’ll look forward to each and every celebration with excitement! Celebrate Everything! is a 216 page hard cover cookbook and features 580 full color photographs by Paul Nurnberg. Signed copies are available directly from the author at

Seafood Extravaganza