Beachy Keen

This casual and fun menu will ensure you spend minimal time in the kitchen and maximum time outside

For many Michiganians, it’s a summer tradition: pile into the car and head for the water. With 3,200 miles of coastline and over 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, if you’re not spending as much time as possible around the Great Lakes, you’re doing something wrong. Whether you are heading to Miners Beach by Pictured Rocks, the Sleeping Bear sand dunes, or a private lake cottage, you’ll want to maximize your time soaking up the sun and spend less time in the kitchen. Think finger foods and dishes served on edible vehicles: no plates means less to wash, plus less chance of getting sand in your food. One-pot meals can be thrown right onto the grill, or, if you’re the handy type, over a fire (make sure it’s legal!). Our seafood-forward dinner menu is the perfect way to cap off your day. Utensils optional!

The Menu

Crudites with Green Goddess Dip
Watermelon, Strawberry, Feta, and Basil Skewers
Grapefruit and Avocado Salad on Bibb Lettuce Cups

Main course and sides
Shellfish Bake
Grilled Cardamom-Turmeric Trout
Grilled Corn and Trio of Compound Butters
Loaves of crusty bread, for dipping
Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Cherry Cobbler

Cardamom Lemon Gin Punch
Strawberry Basil Lemonade
Beer and Wine Pairings

Photographs by EE Berger

Green Goddess Dip

This mayo-based dip showcases all of the great fresh herbs that are bountiful during the summer.

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chives
1 tablespoon tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Freshly ground pepper
Assorted vegetables for dipping, such as sliced radishes, carrots, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes

In a food processor, combine the sour cream and mayonnaise with the parsley, basil, chives, tarragon, lemon juice, and fish sauce and puree until smooth. Season the dip with salt and pepper; serve with the vegetables.


Watermelon, Strawberry, Feta, and Basil Skewers

These fruit and cheese skewers are perfect snacks for in between dips in the lake. You could use mozzarella too.

1 pint of strawberries, quartered and hulled
8 ounces feta cheese, cut into bite-sized cubes
12 basil leaves
One half of a large watermelon, cut into bite-sized cubes
12 short skewers
Balsamic reduction

Skewer the strawberry, feta, basil, and watermelon (so the watermelon is on the bottom). Place all of the skewers on a platter and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

Balsamic Reduction

1 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup honey or sugar

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and honey or sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking until the mixture has been reduced by a third (about 20 minutes).

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

Sumac is a spice often found in fattoush salad dressing, but its bright lemony notes pair up well with tart grapefruit and creamy avocado.

For the salad

2 medium grapefruits
2 medium avocados, sliced ¼-inch thick
Eight Bibb lettuce leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh parsley and mint, for garnish
Almond slivers, for garnish (optional)

Peel the skin and cut all the bitter white pith off of the grapefruits (using a sharp knife is key). Working over a bowl, cut in between the membranes to make sections. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into a bowl and save for the dressing.

Toss the grapefruit and avocado slices carefully in the dressing. Divide the salad evenly and distribute on the lettuce cups. Garnish with herbs and almonds if using, and arrange on a platter for people to eat at their leisure.

For the dressing

2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons sumac
1 medium shallot, minced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated grapefruit zest

Pour the grapefruit juice into a small bowl. Add the salt, paprika, sumac, and shallot. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream as you whisk the oil into the grapefruit juice mixture. Set aside.


Grilled Corn with Trio of Compound Butters

What’s better than butter on freshly grilled corn? Butter with different seasonings.

8 ears corn, shucked and rinsed
Kosher salt

Preheat grill to high heat and oil the grates.

Place corn over hot side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides and tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from grill and season with salt. Serve with compound butters.

Garlic and herb compound butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated. Spoon mixture onto piece of plastic wrap. Roll into a log shape. Twist ends to seal. Refrigerate until firm. Slice to serve.

Za’atar compound butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted over medium-low heat
1 tablespoon dried thyme, crushed (use a mortar and pestle)
1 teaspoon sumac
½ teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated. Spoon mixture onto piece of plastic wrap. Roll into a log shape. Twist ends to seal. Refrigerate until firm. Slice to serve.

Jalapeno compound butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lime juice

Mix ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated. Spoon mixture onto piece of plastic wrap. Roll into a log shape. Twist ends to seal. Refrigerate until firm. Slice to serve.

Shellfish Bake

Inspired by clambakes popular on the East Coast, this dish is simple to prepare on the stovetop and perfect for communal eating.

Serves 6-8

1 bottle dry white wine such as pinot grigio
8 cups water
1 head of garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
2 shallots, quartered
Handful of sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup kosher salt
Crushed red pepper (optional)
2 pounds red potatoes, halved
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced crosswise ½ inch thick
2 dozen littleneck clams
2 lemons, 1 cut into 6 rounds and 1 cut into 8 wedges
2 pounds shell-on large shrimp
Melted butter, for serving
Fresh parsley for garnish
Nori chili salt (recipe follows)

In a large stockpot, pour in the wine, water, garlic, shallots, thyme, kosher salt, and crushed red pepper, if using. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, insert a steamer basket and add the potatoes and sausage. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Layer the clams and then the shrimp on top of the potatoes and sausage; scatter the lemon rounds on top. Cook until shrimp are opaque and clams are open, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the shellfish, sausage, and potatoes to a large serving platter or sheet pan. Sprinkle nori chili salt and fresh parsley over the top. Strain the broth and ladle into small serving bowls. Serve with the lemon wedges, melted butter, broth, grilled corn, and bread.

Nori chili salt

8 nori sheets, toasted (put into the broiler for about 30 seconds, until crisp)
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ cup kosher salt

Pulse nori sheets in a coffee grinder. Transfer to a bowl and mix in chili powder and salt. Sprinkle over shellfish bake.


Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Shaved raw Brussels sprouts are a tasty alternative to the typical cabbage used in coleslaw. Make sure to combine with dressing right before serving to make sure your slaw isn’t soggy and sad.

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
2 cups shredded Brussels sprouts (use a mandolin or cut thinly with a sharp knife)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (can omit if you don’t like spicy)
¼ cup tamari
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (from about a 1-inch piece)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons tahini
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the scallions, Brussels sprouts, red onion, and jalapeno together in a bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the tamari, lime juice, canola oil, ginger, garlic, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, and tahini. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Right before serving, combine the vegetable mixture with the dressing. Serve immediately.


Grilled Cardamom-Turmeric Trout

The beauty of this recipe is that you can prep the foil packets before heading to the beach, store them in a cooler full of ice, and then throw on the grill.

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons ground cardamom
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
Salt and pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 whole trout, boned and butterflied, rinse and pat dry
2 limes, 1 cut into half and the other into slices
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Preheat the grill. Mix the cardamom, turmeric, salt, pepper, shallot, ginger, jalapeno, and butter. Open up one fish and brush the insides liberally with butter mixture. Place the lime slices on one side of the fish. Close the fish. Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil. Repeat with the other three fish.

Cut four rectangles of aluminum foil, about 18 inches long. Place one of the fish in the center of the rectangle and fold the foil over the fish. Fold the sides in and then fold the top over, making a packet.

On the hot side of the grill, place the packet down and grill for about 3 minutes. Move to the cooler side of the grill and cook for another 3 minutes until fish is opaque. Remove from heat and let cool before opening the packet. Transfer to a platter for serving. Squeeze lime juice over the fish, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with remaining lime slices and fresh parsley.

Cherry Cobbler

July is prime cherry season, so take advantage of it with this easy dessert recipe (preserve the rest of your cherry bounty — if you have any left — to make cherry cobbler year-round).

For the filling

6 cups frozen tart cherries
1 ½ cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt

For the biscuit topping

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus one tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, mix cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt until well combined. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly and sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together until well incorporated. Stir in buttermilk and melted butter until just combined.
In a cast-iron skillet, pour in the cherry mixture. With a large spoon, scoop and drop 1-inch pieces of dough onto filling. Sprinkle sugar on top of the biscuits.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake until biscuits are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve.


Punch It Up

This light and refreshing cocktail is the perfect beachside addition. The bright lemon flavor works well with the fish, while the cardamom highlights the earthy juniper notes in the gin. Once combined with a touch of honey and aromatic bitters to cut the sweetness, you’re left with a cheery summer cocktail that’s dangerously drinkable.

Feeling creative? Try infusing your simple syrup with other herbs such as sage or rosemary. Find more flavor inspirations at – Lexi Trimpe


Cardamom Lemon Gin Punch

1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup gin
¾ cup cardamom-infused simple syrup
10 dashes aromatic bitters
2 cups club soda
Lemon, for garnish

For simple syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup whole cardamom seeds


For simple syrup

Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan and stir on medium heat until clear. Add cardamom seeds and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Pour the liquid, including seeds, into an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator. Infuse for 24 hours to 72 hours depending on taste. Remove seeds.

Syrup can be store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

For cocktail

Combine lemon juice, cardamom simple syrup, and aromatic bitters in pitcher. Add gin and stir well. Slowly add soda water and gently stir. Pour mixture in a glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon.


Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Few things say summer quite like a glass of ice-cold lemonade on the beach. This recipe combines sweet strawberries and fresh basil to create a refreshing and slightly herbal flavor perfect for the humid days ahead. Combine a glass of the perfectly pink concoction with a splash of gin or vodka for an added kick.

1 ½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 ½ cup strawberry basil syrup
6 cups water

For syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves

Combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium high heat until liquid runs clear. Add strawberries and basil. Simmer for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and cool completely. Strain liquid.

Combine syrup, lemon juice and water in a large pitcher. Stir well. Serve over ice.


On Tap

Michigan beer pairings perfect for a day on the beach

By Gerald Blakeslee

Angler’s Ale
Arcadia Ales
ABV: 5 percent

Medium-bodied, crisp, and well balanced with subtle notes of caramel, toffee, and toasted malt.

Old Nation Brewing Co.
ABV: 6.8 percent

Deep and complex flavor with citrus and tropical notes of pineapple, mango, and grapefruit.

Oberon Ale
Bell’s Brewery
ABV: 5.8 percent

Michigan summer classic with a spicy, hoppy character and mildly fruity aromas.

Wine & Dine

By Cortney Casey

I like to start out any occasion with sparkling wine. There’s a misconception that sparkling wine is only suitable for special occasions, but I strongly disagree. It’s a great way to get any meal, any event, any get-together, or even an average Tuesday night off on festive footing. For bubbly, L. Mawby is the go-to winery in Michigan. They have everything from dry to sweet. My current favorite is a pinot noir rosé bubbly called Grace. Bubbly is also great with salads and anything salty.

Dry and semi-dry rosés are super food friendly as well as very summery. For the crudité, lettuce cups, and skewers, I would definitely recommend a rosé, like Cody Kresta Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Laurentide Winery Pinot Noir Rosé, Blustone Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé, or Verterra Winery Rosé of Cabernet Franc. 

Shellfish calls for lighter, brighter wines that won’t overpower the flavor of the food. Dry rieslings are food friendly as well and would pair well. Many, many Michigan wineries do a great dry riesling; Brys Estate’s is one of my go-tos, and my husband, Shannon, particularly enjoys the dry riesling from Boathouse Vineyards. We also enjoyed the dry rieslings from Waterfire Vineyards and St. Ambrose Cellars.

An oaky, buttery chardonnay also may complement the buttery corn and butter-dipped crusty bread well. Wyncroft Chardonnay is one of my favorites — it has layers and layers of flavors.

For cherry cobbler, I would suggest Chateau Aeronautique’s Passito Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are dried to concentrate the sugars, creating a luscious dessert wine. This particular wine has a lot of cherry notes, so I think it would complement well. When pairing desserts and wine, you always want to make sure that your wine is sweeter than your dessert. Another idea is Chateau Chantal’s Cerise, a port-style cherry dessert wine.

Cortney Casey is a certified sommelier and founder of, a website that promotes the Michigan wine industry. She blogs about wine at

Text and food recipes by Dorothy Hernandez
Beverage pairings compiled by Lexi Trimpe
Photographs by EE Berger
Prop styling by Stephanie Potts
Additional props provided by Zieben Mare and Detroit Garden Works
Special thank you to Marine City. All shots styled on location at the Marine City public beach. See for more information.