Life’s a beach! Although you may not be able to actually transport your dinner party to the ocean, you can create the ambiance of the beach for your guests. Scatter sand around a centerpiece décor of driftwood, shells and other beach treasures. Decorate your dining table with twinkle lights and candles. Crank up some beach music on the stereo. You can almost feel the ocean breeze! (Photography by Paul Nurnberg.)

Shrimp Waldorf Salad
The original Waldorf salad was created at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York in the late 1890’s. It was considered the height of sophistication. This version features shrimp.
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Fuji apples, cored and diced
2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
1½ cups diced celery
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
Cook the shrimp in boiling water until just pink; drain and cool. In a medium bowl, whisk mayonnaise, buttermilk, lemon juice, tarragon and mustard. Cut the shrimp into ½-inch pieces; place in a large bowl with apples, grapes, celery and almonds. Toss with enough dressing to coat ingredients. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve the salad on a bed of romaine lettuce leaves. Garnish with chopped chives. Serves 8 to 10.

Salmon with Cream Sauce Dijon
Gorgeous fish when whole, king, sockeye and coho are choice wild fish, available from spring through fall. Atlantic salmon, only available farm raised, is notable for its consistent quality, but is not as flavorful as the wild varieties. Use tweezers to remove any stray pin bones, which run down the center of the salmon fillets, before cooking.
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup all-purpose flour
White pepper
Dried dill weed
1 (1½-pound) salmon fillet, skin removed
3 tablespoon capers, drained
In a small bowl, combine first 8 ingredients until well blended. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a medium baking dish. Place salmon in baking dish. Pour cream sauce evenly over salmon. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until fish is easily flaked with a fork. Garnish with capers before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

Almond-Wild Rice Pilaf
Made with both brown and wild rice, this pilaf has a hint of fruity sweetness, thanks to the golden raisins.
5½ cups vegetable or chicken broth, divided
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup wild rice
1 cup brown rice
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup broth to a boil. Remove from heat; add raisins and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of broth to a boil. Add wild rice; boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and allow to stand for 1 hour. Drain, if necessary. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, combine the brown rice with the remaining 2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Drain, if necessary. In a serving bowl, combine wild rice, brown rice, raisin mixture, almonds and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 8.

Lemon Curd Cake
This favorite recipe comes together in a jiffy and never fails to impress! As it bakes, the cake rises to the top creating layers of moist cake and saucy lemon pudding.
1 (18.25-ounce) package lemon cake mix
2 cups milk
1 cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 (3.4-ounce) packages lemon instant pudding
⅓  cup sugar
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake batter as directed on package. Pour into greased 9×13-inch baking dish; set aside. Pour milk, water and lemon juice into a large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes and 1/3 cup sugar. Beat with wire whisk until well blended. Pour evenly over cake batter. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any sauce that might bubble over sides of dish as dessert bakes. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before serving. Sauce will thicken slightly as it cools. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Spoon into serving dishes and serve warm. Serves 12.

The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of two cookbooks, Gold Medal Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi’s website address is She may be reached at 525-0350 or by email at