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Seafood recipes for clambake, lobster pie and how to cook mussels

Before we start talking seafood, you should understand one thing. This writer is a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander with an Italian heritage and two chefs in the family. We don't just eat seafood - we live with it, argue about it, tell seafood stories and arrange our summer outings to take us to the best seafood restaurants around. The perfect plate of Maine steamers isn't a meal to us - it's an epiphany. We believe that clam chowder is white, serving lobsters without butter is sacrilege, and there's only one use for the bathtub on a summer Saturday morning - to hold the lobsters and clams for the clambake later that afternoon.

Our love affair with seafood has led to the creation of wonderful recipes. Whether you're a seafood traditionalist or crave a bit of seafood excitement in your life, you'll find something that you like among my favorite summer seafood recipes.

Grumpy John's Seafood Grill

Grumpy John was christened as such by the grandkids almost as soon as they could talk. The one thing on which you could count on a summer Sunday was that Grumpy John would be manning the grill, which meant the food would be sizzled perfection. He developed this version of a classic seafood beach bake when they stopped letting us dig clambakes down at Green Harbor Beach.

2-3 lbs. of wet seaweed
4-6 1-lb. lobsters
2-3 lbs. of fresh, live Maine steamers
6 potatoes

Kettle grill
Aluminum foil
Cookie sheet

1. Start the coals.

2. Scrub the potatoes and wrap them in foil jackets. When the coals are glowing and have a coating of white ash, bury the potatoes or dig them into the coals.
3. Place the cookie sheet on the grill. Spread about half the seaweed over the cookie sheet.

4. Lay out the lobsters and steamer clams on the seaweed. You can add other seafood if you like, though we clambake snobs draw the line at jumbo shrimp.

5. Cover the layer of seafood with the rest of the seaweed. Close the grill and let steam for 15-20 minutes. If the clams are open and the lobsters are bright red, then fish out the potatoes with a set of cooking tongs, and serve seafood with drawn butter.

Brian's Revenge (A Lazy Man's Lobster Fit for a Child)

When five-year-old Brian found lobsters playing in his dad's tub, he thought they'd be just the thing to terrify his little sister, Nicole. He didn't reckon on the intrepid crustacean getting away and turning to chase HIM back down the hall. Years later, we christened this robust seafood pie Brian's Revenge, in memory of a lobster tale he'd rather forget.

Tail and claw meat from 4 1-lb. lobsters
1 lb. puff pastry (homemade or frozen)
2 cups button mushrooms
1/2 cup diced onion
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup light cooking sherry or white wine
1 cup clam juice or liquid from lobster pot
1 stick butter
1 cup light cream
1 tbsp. flour
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper

1. Melt butter in large saucepan. Add onions and stir till they are translucent. Add mushrooms, continuing to stir for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with flour, and cook till flour absorbs butter. Add sherry and lobster liquid; stir over low heat till mixture thickens.

2. Remove mushroom mixture from heat. Stir in lobster and cream, and then spoon seafood mixture into 4 buttered ramekins. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

3. While lobster mixture is cooling, quickly cut puff pasty into rounds to top ramekins. Use a sharp knife to cut caps from the center of each pastry round. Lay vented puff pastry on each ramekin, and then place the cap slightly off center over the hole. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until pastry is puffed. Serve with a nice Riesling.

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