You don't have to schlep out to the beach to throw a killer clambake. Re-create the outdoor-seafood feast — an East Coast ritual — at home. Steam the basics (below), or sweeten the pot with a few luxe extras, such as lobster claws and/or shrimp. Cold beer is a must!
1 large onion, cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 stalks celery, cut into pieces
1 dried bay leaf
2 cups beer
2 cups water
2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes
4 ears corn, husked and cut into pieces
2 andouille sausages, cut into pieces
3 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Bring the onion, garlic, celery, bay leaf, beer, and water to a simmer, covered, in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Add the potatoes; cover and cook until almost tender, about 13 minutes.
3. Nestle the corn and sausage among the potatoes. Arrange the clams on top; cover and continue to cook 5 to 7 minutes or until the clams open (discard any that do not open). Serve family style with lemon wedges.
Easy Garlic Bread
A delicious pot of clams isn't complete without a side of carbs. In this case, warm, buttery garlic bread is called for to complement the seafood's tangy taste.
1 loaf of bread
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Split the loaf of bread in half, lengthwise, and broil or grill until lightly toasted. Rub 2 smashed garlic cloves on the rough surface of the bread. Slather with softened butter. Serve with the clambake — great for soaking up the broth!
Cold IPA beer
Photo: Courtesy of Erin Phraner
No-Cook Spanish-Tapas Party
It seems like every grocery store’s stocked with tapas-making materials these days: good olives, piquant peppers, cured ham, Spanish cheeses, etc. Set out a spread, and make a big pitcher of Kalimotxo (equal parts red wine and Coca-Cola); it’s the perfect way to stretch a bottle of vino for a crowd.
Toss 2 cups of olives (pick your favorite), 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 3 wide strips of lemon zest, and 1 smashed garlic clove in bowl; let sit at least 30 minutes before serving. If you don’t buy pitted olives, set out a bowl.
Spread fig jam on baguette slices or store-bought crostini. Top with sliced manchego cheese.
Arrange thin slices of Spanish jamón (similar to prosciutto) on a platter, and serve at room temperature. You can find it at a deli counter or online.
To Drink: Kalimotxo
4 cups Spanish red wine, about 1 (750-ml) bottle
4 cups cold Coca-Cola
Ice, for serving
DIY White Party
It’s not often that we get to suggest taking a cue from Diddy’s party-throwing handbook. His white party may be a thing of the past, but you can still throw a killer monochromatic event like it’s 2007 — so why not! Plan to make a few easy appetizers, and then scan the grocery store for other white foods to fill out your spread. Ask guests to dress for the theme (keep an extra Stain Stick on hand, just in case).
White-Bean Hummus & Endive Spears
Separate endives into individual leaves. Fill each with a scoop of store-bought white-bean hummus.
Chill store-bought or homemade potato-leek soup (or any other white soup), and divide among small glasses. Top each with grated-Parmesan cheese.
Sesame-Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
Sandwich mayonnaise and very thinly sliced cucumber between slices of white bread, crusts removed. Slice into bite-sized sandwiches. Press edges into white-sesame seeds to coat.
Sparkling wine (with white raspberries, if desired)
Outdoor Movie Night
Most cities offer a ton of outdoor movies throughout the summer. Check your local paper for listings, or head out to your own backyard or rooftop for an impromptu flick! Just grab some friends and a selection of colorful drinks and candies for the occasion.
Boozy Gummy Bears
Put three bags of gummy bears in a large bowl. Add enough vodka or vanilla-flavored rum to cover, and then wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a day; strain before serving.
Old Bay Popcorn
Sprinkle a bag of microwaved popcorn generously with Old Bay Seasoning. Toss to combine.
If you cant find old-school movie candies at the grocery store, check online. Sites like Economy Candy! and Nostalgic Candy have plenty to choose from.
Look for colorful sodas such as the Stewart’s sodas we used (above). We went for summery flavors — Key Lime, Cherries ‘n Cream and Orange n’ Cream. For a grown-up twist, add a splash of your favorite spirit. We love the combination of orange soda and Mezcal.
For a low-key summer party that’s relaxing and educational, host a rosé tasting. Ask each guest to bring a bottle, and set up a sampling party at home or in your favorite park (shh!— we didn’t tell you to do that). Make a few cheesy appetizers and have paper ready, so your friends can jot down their favorites!
Arrange small piles of Parmesan cheese about an inch apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees, about 8 minutes or until golden.
Mini Grilled Cheeses
Sandwich your choice of grated cheese (such as Swiss, cheddar or Comté) between bread slices; lightly spread the outside of the sandwiches with mayonnaise, and cook in a skillet with butter until golden and melty, about 3 minutes per side. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
Trim a bunch of asparagus. Arrange in a pie plate or shallow baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons of water; cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes or until tender. Chill, then wrap thinly sliced prosciutto around each spear.
A few different rosé wines — try to get an assortment from different countries!
Italian-Ice-Cream Sandwich Party
Anyone can throw an ice-cream social, so give yours a sophisticated twist. Replace ho-hum cookies with miniature brioche rolls and Italian almond cookies, splurge on high-quality gelato (we love Talenti!), and make your own chocolate sauce for spreading/dipping/drizzling.
Homemade Chocolate Sauce
Melt a stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 1 cup of dark-chocolate chips, 1 (14-ounce) can of sweetened-condensed milk, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt; cook, stirring until melted and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.
Assorted Italian cookies and buns
Sprinkles and other candies