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Beach food turns into family staple

June 19, 2012

I just got back from our annual “sisterwives” trip to the beach with our fearless host, Michelle Jones, plus Lady Cox, newbie Connie Wilsey and all of our kids.   Since the moms are outnumbered by the kids, we cooked up a plan to to maximize relaxation time, hence my not so literal name for the trip. It stems from that HBO show Big Love; there are several wives with a bunch of kids to care for and a dad that rarely makes an appearance. Of course our usually present and always doting husbands were at home working their tails off. It is only for a week but we apply similar principles. We split daily tasks like shopping, cooking and watching the kids.

During this trip Connie made breakfast, Lady did lunch, Michelle did afternoon cocktails and some dinners, and I did snacks and a couple of dinners. So in the morning, Connie cooked up yummy pancakes and frittatas, while some of us (mainly me) slept in. Lunch time, we watched the kids swim while Lady went up to make sandwiches and set out food for lunch and so on. So if you were preparing food or drinks, some other mom watched over your kids like they were her own.

After dividing duties, we still had time to read several novels, take naps and play a rousing game of cards each night after the little ones  were in their beds. I wanted to share a few of the easiest yummy recipes that were cooked this week, because no matter how much you love to cook, no one wants to spend all of their vacation in the kitchen. Connie, our breakfast goddess, had a frittata recipe that knocked my socks off. I immediately came home and made it for Bill on Father’s Day morning and he loved it.

Out of ease, Connie makes this in a 9-by-13 casserole dish instead of a skillet. For all of you purists, we will call it a fauxttata. What really struck me besides the ease of this recipe was the versatility. She did several variations on the same recipe all week depending on what we had in leftovers. This will definitely turn into a beach staple for my family.

Michelle makes many yummy cocktails and I may tell you one day about her blueberry mojito, but the one I am sharing was my favorite because it was so tart and refreshing.

For those of you who don’t have the pleasure of knowing Michelle, she makes her own simple syrup and keeps it in the fridge for fresh fruit margaritas, so she is a pro. It is really easy to get in over your head with her drink recipes, but this Paradiso seems easy enough and doesn’t require a stove. The fish recipe I am sharing came from It is super simple with minimal ingredients which is ideal for the beach, so the fresh fish can be the star. I used snapper when I made this fish dish, but epicurious said that you could also use grouper. I plan on making all three when we go back to the beach later this summer as a family with Bill and some more friends.

Connie’s Fauxttata

6 eggs
2 spoonfuls plain yogurt (I used greek)
2 tablespoons milk
6 ounces sausage, browned in skillet
6 or so ounces sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, brown sausage in skillet until cooked through and set aside. Whisk together eggs, yogurt, milk. Add sausage and cheese to egg mixture, salt and pepper, and pour into a greased 9-by-13 casserole dish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Serve with Louisiana Hot Sauce.
u Variation — one morning Connie skipped the sausage and cheddar, and added zucchini, squash, poppy seeds  and feta in their place, the possibilities are endless.  

Snapper with Tomato and Basil

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 (1 lb) pieces of grouper or red snapper filet (3/4 inch thick) skinned and halved crosswise (I just bought two good looking snapper fillets, not sure the weight and cut them in half across)
1/2 teaspoon sailt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped tomato
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
1/2 cup of white wine

Working off heat, put 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a 10-inch nonstick skellet and add fish, turning to coat with oil on both sides. Arrange fish skinned sides down and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss together tomato, garlic, basil, remaining oil, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl, then mound on top of fish. Cover skillet with tight-fitting lid and cook fish over medium high heat until just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer fish to platter and deglaze pan with remaining juices and white wine and pour over fish.

Michelle’s Paradiso

1 1/2  ounces orange vodka
1/2 ounce limoncello
1/2 ounce Aperol or Campari
1 ounce fresh orange juice
garnish with a twist of lime

Mix well and serve over ice.

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