childhood seaside memories ::::
The first time I really remember eating a good prawn was in a seaside town in Southern England. I don’t remember what town or my family’s destination. I do remember staying in a place called the Primrose Inn, a typical Bed and Breakfast accommodation, cozy and dimly lit, the smell of the sea nearby.
We bought the shrimp one day while walking along the waterline. It was perfectly cooked, chilled, and served simply from a kiosk in a plastic bag. We sat and peeled the pink prawns ourselves, no seasoning or dipping needed for a perfect snack.
I have yet to find another place that served fresh crustaceans in the same manner, whether in England or in America. Coming back from England to landlocked Illinois, my parents often lamented the paucity of fresh seafood of any kind. Our summer trips to Maine helped rectify that, but most of the year, we were stuck with the occasional lapse of frozen fried clams or salad shrimp.
I can’t say the salad shrimp ever surpassed that first finger-food shrimp I tasted in England, but the way my mom prepared it certainly was a hit with most people who tried it. On the top of list of fans is Eat. This is undoubtedly the most requested dish by Eat when we visit my parents. My mother used to make this dip for special occasions when I was growing up, even using a mold a few times. When Eat and I were engaged and often frequented my mother’s kitchen in search of late-night studying snacks while finishing a semester before the wedding, Eat could gorge on this dip without second thought. It is an easy dish to assemble ahead of time, keeps for a couple of days in the fridge, and pairs well with any cracker or crusty bread.
One year ago: naked coconut panna cotta
Two years ago: romesco-ish dip
- 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup (condensed)
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (optional; use if using a mold)
- 3 tablespoons cold water (to soften gelatin)
- ½ cup mayo
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- ½ cup celery
- ¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon Tabasco
- 10 ounces fresh small shrimp, drained well
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped OR 1 teaspoon dried dill plus a little more for sprinkling if desired
- Place soup and cream cheese in pot over medium heat. Stir until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended. Add gelatin (if using) and cook and stir to dissolve. Cool mixture to room temperature.
- Add mayo, sour cream, parsley, celery, green onion, lemon juice, Tabasco, shrimp, and dill. Mix well.
- Oil 6 cup mold, if using. Chill at least 4 hours or until firm. Unmold and serve. If not using gelatin and mold, chill mixture until cold. Sprinkle with a little more dill and serve dip with hearty crackers.