Seafood Saturday Feast, plus Basil Margaritas and Grilled Corn Salad

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A few months ago, a friend mentioned starting a series of outdoor dinners, in our back yard. She did this in a sly way, first by complimenting my cooking, then by raving about our scenic yard. I was flattered, but saw right through those compliments. Who would cook? Clean? Run around refilling drinks and getting people napkins? The friend suggested the group would take turns hosting these get-togethers, we'd call it "Friends and Fresh Air" and it would be great.

Months passed and this "Friends and Fresh Air" concept didn't go anywhere. That is, until I had a craving for seafood. I wanted something fresh and delicious. I wanted to eat outside. So here I was, willing to host the first "Friends and Fresh Air" affair.

In the morning, the husband and I set out to find seafood. We ended up at Bristol Farms, where we stocked up on mussels, calamari steaks and a whole bass. We held up the line at the fish counter for a good five minutes, and got the stink eye from lady behind us. Once home, I didn't want to spend too much time on the seafood. Everything was fresh, so the plan was to keep it simple, maybe herbs, lemon and butter.

The fish was the easiest. I stuffed it with lemon slices, thyme and rosemary. Seasoned it with smoked sea salt and pepper, and it was ready for the grill. The calamari steaks were soaked in milk, then coated with eggs and breadcrumbs and pan fried. These were a bit fussy, my breadcrumbs weren't feeling too cooperative. And the mussels were prepared traditionally, with lots of garlic, pepper flakes, white wine, clam juice and butter. These were everyone's favorite. It could be because they looked so pretty in a big white bowl, topped with fresh parsley.

Other highlights of the evening include basil margaritas and a grilled corn and bacon salad. Let's start with the drink. I used the handy 1-2-3 Margarita recipe, but to it I added the basil lemon syrup, featured in my birthday post, and lots of fresh basil, which I muddles with syrup. The basil flavors were subtle, but there. A pretty refreshing take on the margarita.

The grilled corn, bacon and avocado salad was also a pleasant surprise. I came across the salad on Joy the Baker's cute little blog, and decided it would be great for outdoor seafood fest. And it was. Grilled corn is delicious, period. But adding good bacon and creamy avocado makes it even more so. I definitely suggest giving this tasty recipe a try over summer.

With the first "Friends and Fresh Air" dinner behind us, I am patiently waiting for my invitation to the next soiree.
Grilled Corn, Bacon and Avocado Salad
adapted from http://joythebaker.com

4ears of shucked corn
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (I left these out, since we had a tomato allergy amongst us)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 avocados, diced
5 sliced crisp cooked bacon, diced
juice of 1 or 2 limes
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
a good sprinkling of chili powder and smoky paprika
butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce leaves

1) Shuck corn on the cob of all their husks and strings.  Grill corn, and let cool.  Slice corn kernels from the cob.
2) Add corn kernels to a large bowl.  Add green onion, diced avocado, and diced bacon.  Squeeze in lime juice.   Season and add olive oil.  Stir to combine.  Taste and re-season if necessary,
3) Serve lettuce leaves alongside the salad. 

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