Soft-shell season has arrived here along the Eastern Shore. All up and down the Chesapeake Bay, hardworking waterman are tending to shedding tables watching crabs bust out of their old shells, then pulling them from the water while they’re still soft and pliable, and shipped to crab connoisseurs all over the world.

Handy Seafood, located in Salisbury and Crisfield, helps them get where they need to go. They’ve been around forever. Whenever I look to an favorite old Chesapeake Bay cookbook – they ALL mention Handy. And they are still getting nods in publications – they were just mentioned in Food & Wine magazine this month. So when they reached out to me about sponsoring a post, I felt honored to be working with such a beloved local company – and jumped at the chance!

While I’m usually going straight to the source to get my crabs, I know many of you guys can’t. If that’s the case, you definitely need to check out Handy’s online store. They ship chilled and frozen crabs just about anywhere! They arrive fully cleaned and dressed, so all you have to do is figure out how you want to enjoy them. Which, was a nice change of pace for me.  But, if you do have to clean your own – click here for a great video on how-to (featuring yours truly).

They’ve got a ton of great recipes on their website, but I went with an old favorite that is found in John Shield’s Chesapeake Bay Cooking. The recipe was submitted to John by the guys in the crabhouse at Handy back in the 80’s. So, I thought it would be cool to bring the Beer Battered Soft Shells to the party.  If anyone knows how to prepare a soft shell – it’s the guys who work with them all day long. Am I right?

The batter is easy to whip up, and the crabs fry up beautifully. Perfectly golden and crunchy on the outside, tender sweet crab on the inside. I put them on a sandwich with a little tartar sauce, but I think they’d be excellent on a simple salad as well. And what an impressive presentation they make!

Summer is here on the Shore, get out there and enjoy everything that it has to offer.

Beer-Battered Soft Shells

1 1/2 cups flour (divided)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp Old Bay
1 (12 oz) beer
6 soft-shell crabs (cleaned)
vegetable oil, for frying
tartar sauce and lemon wedges

Mix 1 1/4 cup flour, salt, baking powder, paprika, and Old Bay in a small bowl. Mix in the beer and whisk until smooth. Let batter sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours to thicken.

Add remaining flour to a pie plate or dish and lightly dust softs with flour, shaking off any excess. Set aside.

Pour oil into a deep skillet to a depth of about 1 inch and heat to 375.

Gently dip each crab into the batter to coat evently, use a fork to lift out – give a few taps to let excess batter drip off. Gently slide the crabs into the hot oil, being careful to not overcrowd pan. Fry to golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.

Remove to paper towel lined tray to drain briefly.

Serve immediately with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

Source: adapted from Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Sheilds

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Handy Seafood. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Another Friday, another crush. The sun has gone into hiding again, and it’s been raining all day. And I have a child with chicken pox (wtf, right?). And we still haven’t been out on the boat yet. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling a sunny and fruity drink on this #CrushFridayVA. So, I kind of stepped out of the box for this week’s cocktail.

A simple syrup is infused with heady kick of fresh ginger flavor after a short steeping period. Which is then combined with freshly squeezed lemon juice, vodka, a splash of triple sec, and a bit of bubbly in the form of some ginger ale to round out the flavor.

It’s something different for this rainy evening we’re having here on the island. Little league games are already cancelled tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to a lazy morning with my guys. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Happy Friday, guys! Everyone had a good week? It’s still been super busy around here with baseball, and cub scouts, and everything else we have going on. But in all the rushing around the past few days, I did manage to squeak out a few minutes to come up with this week’s #CrushFridayVA recipe!

My youngest talked me into buying a watermelon at last week’s grocery store trip. So I went with that for this week!  It was okay, but not like the melons you’ll find locally in another couple of months. We only are about half of it, and I figured the other half would be perfect for a cocktail. I’ll tell you, this whole crush thing has been great for using up the rest of the fruit that’s still hanging out by the weekend!

This recipe couldn’t be easier, and one batch makes quite a few cocktails. Fruity and fresh, it really hits the spot on the porch at happy hour – especially now that it’s warming up. Speaking of happy hours on the porch, I’m hosting a cocktail crafting class at the Chincoteague Cultural Alliance next Friday. If you’re local (or in-town for the weekend!) and want to join us, you can sign up on their site. It’s going to be tons of fun.

It’s Friday, y’all! And, that means a new fruit crush cocktail here on Tide & Thyme. I’m lame and dropped the ball last week. Little league obligations + field trips + allergies ended up crushing my ass last week…so with all that, I was in no mood to crush a cocktail. Ya feel me?

But the sun has been shining this week, I’ve been cleaning and baking with the windows open. All my favorite spots are opening up their doors for the season here on the island. And *fingers crossed*, we’re hoping to get the boat wet this weekend! The flounders are biting, and I’m ready to start restocking the freezer.

Alas. summer isn’t quite in full bloom for another month or so. And, fruit isn’t available from any of my favorite local farms just yet. Luckily, a halfway decent canteloupe is available pretty much all year at the grocery store. So, I decided to throw that under the bus for the crush this week!

The orange color is just lovely, and the melon flavor and sweetness is on point. So, what are you waiting for? It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Get out there and crush the weekend, guys.

The Canteloupe Crush

2 cups canteloupe, diced
3 Tbsp sugar
1 orange, juiced
1/2 cup vodka
1/3 cup triple sec
1/2 cup sparkling water or lemon-lime soda
sliced canteloupe, for garnish

Blend canteloupe and sugar in a food processor or blender until completely pureed. We’re talking liquified.

Pour mixture into the bottom of a quart mason jar. Add in the orange juice, vodka, triple sec, and sparking water. Shake to combine.

Fill glasses with ice and pour cocktail over. Garnish glass with a slice of canteloupe.

Makes about 3-4 servings.