Warm weather puts me in the mood for entertaining. Chances are that many of you feel the same way. Wouldn’t it be fun to host a party for your dearest friends? Your party doesn’t have to be a fancy affair. Keep it small, intimate and informal. It’s easy to be a hostess! Seafood is a favorite choice for a small and casual party. All of my recipes in this issue are delicious and easy to prepare and most can be made the day before serving.

Coordinate the menu with the tone of your party. If you’re planning a casual event, opt to serve the food buffet-style. If you’re hosting a dinner buffet, add a couple of passed hors d’oeuvres. Do the passing yourself and be sure to speak with each guest individually. Set up your buffet table in an area that’s easily accessible. When decorating the buffet table keep it simple. The focal point of the table should be the food.

Coordinate beverages with the cuisine. If you are serving seafood offer white wine. You may also want to offer beer. Be sure to provide iced tea or lemonade and pitchers of water, too.

Offer your guests a glass of Sangria! Sangria! as they arrive. Serve Outer Banks Clam Chowder in a crockpot or chafing dish with ramekins or small mugs on your buffet. Mesclun Salad with Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Champagne Vinaigrette may be served on individual salad plates or from a large platter. Cold Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce is an excellent buffet item for a luncheon or dinner. For an entree, Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese may be served buffet-style, as tapas or served over hot pasta. End your meal with Lemon Lush Parfaits. They’re a show-stopping dessert! You now have an easy and elegant seafood supper

Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! Spend some quality time with the people you love.

Photography by Susan DeLoach


Sangria! Sangria!

The BEST sangria recipe I’ve been able to hone to perfection! If you like a sweeter sangria, use ginger ale in place of club soda.

1 (750 milliliter) bottle pinot grigio

½ cup brandy

½ cup triple sec

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup orange juice

¼ cup sugar (optional)

2 cups fresh pineapple cubes

1 cup seedless green grapes, halved

1 lemon, sliced into rings

1 lime, sliced into rings

1 pint fresh strawberries, halved

1 cup club soda or ginger ale, optional

In a large pitcher, mix together the wine, brandy, triple sec, lemon juice, orange juice and sugar. Add pineapple, grapes and citrus slices. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. Add strawberries just before serving. For a fizzy sangria, stir in club soda or ginger ale before serving. Serves 6.


Outer Banks Clam Chowder

The word chowder comes from the French word for “stew pot” but chowder is an American original, developed during Colonial times. To be true chowder, the soup must contain a pork product, onions and potatoes.

1 pint clams

4 slices bacon, diced

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup clam liquor and water

1 cup diced red potatoes

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1½ cups whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Drain clams and save liquor.  Pour liquor into a 1-cup measuring cup; add water if needed to make a full cup of liquid. Chop clams; set aside.  Fry bacon until lightly brown.  Add onion and saute until tender.  Place bacon and onion in a medium saucepan.  Add clam liquor and water, potatoes, seasonings and clams.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.  Add milk and cream; heat through.  Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6.


Mesclun Salad with Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Champagne Vinaigrette

Wrap the scallops in prosciutto before baking for a different twist on a classic recipe.

12 slices bacon

24 sea scallops

Freshly ground black pepper

Mesclun salad greens

For the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut bacon slices in half to make 24 pieces. Wrap each scallop in a piece of bacon. Place wrapped scallops on a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with black pepper; to taste. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until scallops are cooked through. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and mustard; blend well. With wire whisk, slowly incorporate oil until thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place greens in a large salad bowl; add dressing and toss to coat. Place dressed greens on 8 individual salad plates. Add 3 bacon-wrapped scallops to each salad. Serves 8.


Cold Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce

Delicious served chilled or at room temperature. It’s always a hit!

For the dill sauce:

¼ cup fresh dill weed, chopped

1 cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


Freshly ground black pepper

For the salmon:

1 (2-pound) center-cut salmon fillet

4 cups water

½ cups dry white wine

1 stalk celery, sliced

½ red onion, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

¼ teaspoon salt

Suggested garnishes:

Red onion, chopped

Hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 lemon, sliced thinly

1 small jar capers, drained

Fresh dill weed

Make dill sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl; refrigerate until ready to serve. To prepare the salmon, place all ingredients except for the salmon in a shallow pot or fish poacher. Bring to a boil and let let simmer for 15 minutes. On extremely low heat, add the salmon fillet and cover. Poach for 12 to 15 minutes or until desired doneness. When salmon is cooked through, remove from cooking liquid to a platter. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Assemble salmon on platter with chopped red onion, chopped hard-boiled eggs, lemon slices, capers and fresh dill weed. Serve with dill sauce on the side. For appetizers serve with water crackers or toasted baguette slices. Serves 10.


Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese (Girades mi Feta)

A fabulous Greek recipe that’s perfect for small plates and great served over hot pasta!

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (3.25-ounce) jar capers, drained


Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes.  Sauté briefly, without allowing the garlic to brown, about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, stirring well, and bring to a boil.  Simmer, stirring frequently, until juices are reduced and sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add capers and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spread half of sauce in a lightly greased baking dish and top with the shrimp.  Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with the crumbled feta.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, in a preheated 350 degree oven, until bubbling hot and the shrimp are pink.  Serve with crusty rustic bread or crostini. Serves 6 to 8.


Lemon Lush Parfaits

This is one of my all-time favorite desserts! This recipe is typically prepared in a 9×13-inch baking dish. If you want to serve it in champagne glasses, the instructions for deconstructing follow at the end of the recipe.

2 (3.4-ounce) packages instant lemon pudding mix


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed in refrigerator, divided

Chopped pecans, to garnish

Prepare instant pudding according to package directions; refrigerate. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, butter and chopped pecans; mix well. Spread mixture in the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned; cool. With an electric mixer combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 cup frozen whipped topping until well blended; spread evenly over cooled crust. Top with lemon pudding. Spread remainder of whipped topping over lemon pudding layer. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Serves 12.

*To deconstruct for parfaits: Prepare pudding according to package directions; refrigerate. Bake crust as directed; cool and crumble. Make cream cheese layer according to the recipe. In champagne glasses, sprinkle ¾ teaspoon of the crumbled crust in the bottom of each glass. Top with a dollop of cream cheese mixture; tap glass to settle evenly. Add a layer of pudding; tap glass to settle evenly. Repeat layers. Top with whipped topping and garnish with chopped pecans. This recipe also works well in wine glasses! Serves 6 to 8.

The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of three cookbooks, Celebrate Beaufort, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. For more great recipes and to view her cooking demonstrations, visit and subscribe to Debbi’s YouTube channel. Debbi’s website address is www.cateringbydebbicovington.com. She may be reached at 843-525-0350 or by email at dbc@cateringbydebbicovington.com.