Coconut shrimp have always been one of my favorite appetizers. Whenever I see it on a menu, I can’t help but ordering them, just to see what their version is. Many times I’ve been severely disappointed. The best I’ve ever had was at Waterman’s Inn in Crisfield, Maryland. Big shrimp and copious amounts of coconut, fried to golden perfection.

So, with most of my other restaurant favorites, I came home with the resolution to make coconut shrimp at home that were just as good. That was over 3 years ago now, and the road was bumpier than I’d imagined. There were many casualties on the coconut front, but I finally got the batter down just right. The key is to do a beer batter coating on the shrimp – then roll them in the shredded coconut. Also, letting the shrimp chill for 30 minutes once coated really helped to keep the coconut on the shrimp – and not come off in the oil.

These make an impressive appetizer, as well as a delicious main course. I paired them with a tropical quinoa salad, for something on the lighter side, and it was a perfect meal!

Today marks the Opening Ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad. London 2012. I always look forward to the Olympics – something about everyone coming together to compete and celebrate. The stories of sportsmanship that arise every year are so moving. I had the opportunity to attend the equestrian events in Atlanta 1996, and it’s something I’ll never forget. My mom and myself went, along with my best friend’s family. The bustling streets filled with people of all different nationalities and cultures; I was only 13 at the time, but I still felt connected to something so much larger than myself. I guess that’s what the Olympic Games are about, really.

And, London. London! What a fabulous city to be hosting. So rich in history and lore, the UK is at the top of my travel bucket list. So, for today’s post I wanted to share something that was a nod to this great city – and fish and chips immediately came to mind. I don’t fry fish often, usually preferring to pan-sear or grill it. But, we like to indulge in a good old-fashioned fish fry once in a while! I chose cod, which is a traditional choice for this dish. But haddock, flounder, or tilapia would be fine too. I recommend using a full-flavored beer in the batter, a hoppy IPA is always my go-to choice for this application.

Good luck to all the competitors these next couple of weeks, and go Team USA! Looking forward to curing up with our family tonight and watching the Parade of Nations and the lighting of the torch. Below you’ll find a picture of myself in Atlanta, circa ’96. Right in the thick of Olympic Village, posting next to a full chrome Chevy pickup. I’m pretty sure I was rocking a hot pink fanny pack as well. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

We eat a lot of shrimp in the summertime. Fresh with the heads still on, they are almost cheaper than chicken here. We also eat alot of Mexican, so to combine those two loves into one dish was a no-brainer. I’d had shrimp tacos on my mind, but when I came across this recipe in a cookbook I had the opportunity to review, I put it on our menu plan immediately.

The shrimp undergo a quick marinade before being sauteed, then topped with a delicious mango-avocado salsa and thinly sliced red cabbage for a bit of crunch. All wrapped up in a lightly toasted corn tortilla. Comes together in less than 20 minutes, making for a perfect dinner to throw together after a long day at the beach – which, we’ve been enjoying a lot of these days.

The good people at Lodge Cast Iron sent along an extra cookbook to pass along to one of my fine readers. To enter, leave a comment answering this question: What is your favorite dish to prepare in a cast iron skillet?

Contest will run through August 1st at 10 PM EST. Winner will be chosen via Random Number Generator and notified via email. For a few more chances to win:

– Leave a separate comment below that you follow us on Twitter.
– Leave a separate comment below that you like us on Facebook.

In the summertime here on the Eastern Shore, it’s rare to go a week without enjoying blue crabs in some way, shape, or form. Crab cakes, crab soup, or crab dip are all shining examples. But, nothing beats a good old-fashioned crab feast in my book! A big tray of freshly steamed crabs, some corn-on-the-cob, and plenty of ice cold beer. It’s just not summer without it!

Now, I know that many of you folks don’t have access to live blue crabs. But, many folks who do buy them already steamed and seasoned. And, that’s just no good! You don’t know how long ago they were cooked, and you usually end up paying more money to have them do it for you.

The steaming instructions listed below apply to any amount of live crabs – whether it be 1 dozen, or one bushel. Quantity does not matter. Bear in mind if you are steaming a whole bushel, you’ll need a very large cooking device. We have an old keg that we’ve converted to a steam-pot, and it’s great! I also recommend cooking outside if possible. A turkey frying rig is wonderful for this purpose. A side burner on a grill can usually do the job as well. I find that when I do steam them inside, it creates a funk smell in the house that lingers for a day or so. Kind of like when you fry something!

Line a table with multiple layers of newspaper, and dump the crabs right into the center of the table. Have wooden mallets and picking knives at the ready. We like to serve melted butter, and cider vinegar that’s been seasoned with plenty of Old Bay.