Salty Recipes by Amy Gaw

Date Night Dinner
(for 2, of course!)

One of the best parts about a night with your sweetie is the date – not standing over a stove.
All of these recipes can be made ahead of time and make enough for Date Night and an easy lunch the next day.

Curry-tuck Sweet Potato Bisque

2 oz butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon of your favorite Curry Powder
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
5 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream, optional
1/2 cup dry Sherry
Outer Banks SeaSalt
White pepper to taste
Candied Pecans for garnish, optional

In a soup pot, melt butter, and sauté onions, carrots and curry powder until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and 1/2 cup of stock, reduce heat to low, cover and sweat for about 20 minutes. Add the rest of the stock, cover and simmer for about 15 more minutes. Check that the potatoes are soft all the way through, then puree with an immersion blender or a food processor. If you use the processor, wait for the potatoes to cool. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Add the ginger, crème fraiche and sherry. Season to taste with Outer Banks SeaSalt and white pepper and garnish with candied Pecans.


Candied Pecans

2 1/2 cups North Carolina pecans, chopped
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of Outer Banks SeaSalt
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Toss pecans in butter, then roast in 300° oven 20 to 25 minutes
Stir frequently. Cool before touching.


Shrimp Casserole with Cream, Corn and Country Ham

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pint heavy cream
4 ears worth of corn-off-the-cob
1 pound egg noodles, cooked al dente
1½ pounds local greentail shrimp, peeled, deveined
¼ cup diced country ham,
Outer Banks SeaSalt
black pepper
grated cheese du Jour (Mozzarella, Greyure, Swiss, Cheddar? A combo?)

Slowly melt the butter in a medium size sauté pan. Add shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes. Add corn and stir together in pan and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat. Transfer cooked pasta into a buttered casserole dish add shrimp and corn mixture. Pour heavy cream over everything and gently move the ingredients around to accommodate the cream. Sprinkle with Outer Banks SeaSalt and top with grated cheese and then the country ham. Bake at 350 until the cheese melts and become brown and bubbly. For Date Night, you can make these in individual casserole dishes.


Chocolate Mousse

2 cups chilled heavy organic cream
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
Outer Banks SeaSalt

Heat 3/4 cup cream in a 1-quart heavy saucepan until hot. Whisk together yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a metal bowl until combined well, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until it registers 160°F on thermometer. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a glass bowl in a microwave at 50 percent power 3 to 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Whisk custard into chocolate until smooth, and then cool. Beat remaining 1 1/4 cups cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Whisk one fourth of cream into chocolate custard to lighten, then fold in remaining cream gently but thoroughly. Spoon mousse into 8 (6-ounce) stemmed glasses or ramekins and chill, covered, at least 6 hours. Let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving. Finish with pinch of Outer Banks SeaSalt just before serving.



An Early Summer Supper for 4

Beet Tzatziki + Pita Chips

3-4 medium size red or yellow beets
2 large cloves minced garlic
Juice of ½ lemon or dash red wine vinegar (or both!)
1½ cups plain whole-milk yogurt, preferably Greek-style
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh dill
Outer Banks SeaSalt
black pepper

Steam, boil or roast beets until tender. Cool, remove skin and grate. Mix all ingredients together and chill for at least 6 hours. This bright pink or golden yellow dip  is an easy nosh with crispy pita wedges, fresh veggies or even in tiny endive cups. You can make extra and use the next day as a zingy side for grilled fish or pork.


SoftShell Blue Crabs with Field Pea Succotash

4 ears corn-off-the-cob
2 medium, ripe tomatoes, chopped
3 cups blanched until soft field peas (white acre, pink lady, even lima beans)
1 medium local, sweet onion, diced
1½  sticks unsalted real butter
¼ cup good olive oil
8 jumbo or whale size softshell crabs, cleaned
Outer Banks SeaSalt and freshly cracked pepper

unbleached flour for dredging
handful chopped basil leaves

In large cast iron skillet heat ½ stick of butter until it is frothy. Add onion and cook over medium heat until almost translucent. Add corn, field peas and tomatoes, a generous grind of black pepper and a good size dash of local sea salt. Shake the pan and let it continue to heat over low heat while you cook the softshells. Really, this is a quick cook dish. Do it all at once, no need to cook all day or fret. If the corn is super fresh, you just want a kiss of heat. Remember, you already blanched the field peas.

Next, cook the softshells. Start by lightly seasoning both sides of the crabs with a smidge of Outer Banks SeaSalt & pepper. Lightly dredge the crabs in flour and shake off excess.

Using a heavy bottomed sauté pan or a cast-iron pan, warm half the olive oil. Increase the heat to high and add ¼ of the remaining butter. When foamy, add dredged softshells to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes and turn over carefully, watch for popping fat from high water content in crab, reducing the heat to medium. Continue to cook until crab turns from translucent to opaque and has a nice golden exterior. Cook about 2 minutes longer than you think you should. Remove onto platter. Repeat with remaining softshells.

Remove pan from heat. Swirl in remaining butter and add a bit of Outer Banks SeaSalt and fresh basil. Set aside. Place succotash on individual dinner plates, top with two softshell crabs and drizzle with basil butter.


Almond-Vanilla Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup cane sugar
1-1/2 cups almond meal/flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp very dry Outer Banks SeaSalt
4 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp real vanilla

Cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs, one at a time, and blend for a full minute after each is added to incorporate structure. Add soy milk and vanilla and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients and beat until creamy. Spread into a buttered, parchment lined cake pan. I have used 2 loaf pans and I have done a 10-inch round. 2 is fun when you want to make one to keep and one to share. Super delicate when warm. Almost better the next day, if it lasts that long, as it gets a bit more dense. Delicious with fresh berries! {Note: if you pay attention and buy gluten free baking powder, this can be a gluten free dessert!}

tip: always use the best ingredients you can afford