Although it's been quite chilly this week here in North Georgia, the daffodils, the forsythias and the cherry trees are already in bloom. Time to start thinking of getting out of the cave and joining civilization again!
Spring is the nicest time of the year to plan some sort of gathering, particularly if you have a beautiful garden in bloom. Although the nights are still cool, days are warm and perfect for an outdoor lunch with your friends, some of whom you haven't probably seen since Christmas. All over the South, there are all kinds of house and garden tours and it's fun to gather a group of close friends to go and return to the house afterwards for lunch and some catching up on the latest gossip. Whatever you make, though, has to be ready to eat on arrival so plan things that can be served room temperature, cold, or require a brief warming in the oven.
This casserole is perfect. It comes from Susan Mason, the premier caterer of Savannah, Georgia, legendary for its garden tours in the Spring. Warm it up while you are having drinks on the porch.
Serves 6 to 8
1 14 ounce can artichokes, drained
1 lbs medium shrimp, peeled, deveined with tails removed
1 lbs white backfin crabmeat, picked over for shells
4 1/2 TB butter
4 1/2 TB flour
1 1/2 Cup half and half
1 TB Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and white pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. paprika
White rice to accompany
Preheat the oven to 375 and butter a 3 quart baking dish.
Cook shrimp in boiling water for about 3 minutes, until they turn pink.
Arrange the artichokes in the baking dish. Spread shrimp and crabmeat over the artichokes.
In a large heavy saucepan melt butter and whisk in flour to a smooth paste. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. Add half and half slowly and stir until thickened and smooth. Add Worcestershire sauce, sherry, lemon juice, salt, and peppers. Pour over ingredients in the baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika.
Bake for 20 minutes and serve hot with rice