It is finally winter in Indiana, complete with dreary skies and cold temperatures. If you can’t escape to warmer climates, the next best thing is to dine as if you were on vacation. That means thinking of your favorite warm-weather get-away spot and recreating a menu that you would have if you were there.

Steamed Clams and Mussels

Fresh seafood always reminds me of being on vacation in Florida. An ice-cold mug of your favorite local beer with a wedge of lime is the perfect accompaniment for this simple, delicious treat.  Make it as a meal for two or an appetizer for 4-6 people.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound mussels
  • 2 pounds littleneck clams
  • 1 small white baguette, cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 pound leeks, white parts only, well washed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 small sprig fresh oregano
  • 1 fresh or dried bay leaf
  • 1/2 serrano chile, seeded and deveined
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Scrub mussels and clams in cool water. Remove beards from mussels, and discard all broken or opened shells. Remove from water, and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Heat broiler to medium-high heat. Brush bread slices with olive oil on both sides. Place under broiler for about 30 seconds on each side or until golden. While still hot, rub tops with cut side of garlic clove.
  3. Place a large stockpot on stove over medium heat. Add butter. When melted and bubbling, add leeks, shallots, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, and chile. Saute until leeks and shallots are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add white wine, and salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer. Add mussels and clams; cover; cook until shells open, about 7 minutes. Throw away any shells that do not open. Serve in a bowl with t he croutons.

Shrimp, avocados, strawberries, lemons and limes were available in Florida during my stay there. I combined them with a couple of my favorite dishes from Mexico and came up with a menu that feels like an ocean breeze and the sun on my face!

Roasted Seafood Stuffed Pineapple

Black Beans with Lime

Cilantro-Lime Rice

Pink Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

Strawberry-Ginger Cairpirosca

Frozen Lemon Mousse