A summer crab feast and corn and fennel chowder recipe

Summer crab feast | Cannelle et VanilleSummer crab feast | Cannelle et Vanille

There have been many picnics this summer.

Some planned, some completely spontaneous. Some pretty, some messy, but all of them with great company. The thing I like about picnics isn’t necessarily the food. Yes, that’s the ultimate incentive and satisfier, but getting together with friends and children on a sunny summer’s day somehow makes summer actually feel like such. It’s not the heat and the sun, but the gatherings.

Summer crab feast | Cannelle et VanilleSummer crab feast | Cannelle et VanilleSummer crab feast | Cannelle et Vanille

This past weekend, I hosted a 3-day food styling and photography workshop in Seattle partnering with Angela Ritchie of Ace Camps. For one of the assignments for the styling and photography session, I recruited my friend and stylist Jenn Elliott-Blake to assist me create a summer beach picnic at Discovery Park. It was a hot summer’s day and Jenn created a canopy out of driftwood she found at the beach. She created a quilt with different fabrics she pinned together and draped it over the wood structure. It was the perfect shelter for the smoldering heat. Students witnessed all it takes to create a set and all the production that is involved when shooting lifestyle stories on location.

I found beautiful already-cooked crab at Pike Place Market and brought them to the beach for our picnic. Cheese and charcuterie board, grilled fennel with lemons, roasted carrots and a corn and fennel chowder. All prepared ahead of time by chef Alison Bell and easy to transport to the beach.

I could have a picnic every single day of summer. In fact, I feel like I almost have. Enjoy.

Summer crab feast | Cannelle et VanilleSummer crab feast | Cannelle et VanilleSummer crab feast | Cannelle et VanilleSummer crab feast | Cannelle et VanilleSummer crab feast | Cannelle et VanilleSummer crab feast | Cannelle et VanilleSummer crab feast | Cannelle et Vanille

The beach picnic essentials checklist:

Charcuterie
Olives
Cheese
Bread
Anchovies
Pink lemonade
Grilled fennel and lemons
Roasted carrots with paprika
Cooked whole crab (you can ask your fishmonger to clean the guts if you wish)
Corn and fennel chowder (recipe follows)

Don’t forget a wide beach blanket, dishes and flatware!

Corn and fennel chowder

serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium fennel bulb, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Bunch of thyme sprigs
5 ears white corn, kernels removed
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups half and half
Salt and pepper
Dill flowers, optional

Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, fennel, celery, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender but not browned over medium heat, about 10 minutes.

Add the corn kernels and stir. Add the chicken stock and half and half. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with dill flowers, optional.


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37 Responses to “A summer crab feast and corn and fennel chowder recipe”

  1. Melissa says:

    So pretty Aran! Summer and picnics are the best.

  2. This is so lovely! Thanks for sharing these images and the chowder recipe with us. It’s an honour to be a witness of your truly inspiring work, Aran. Even more now that you’re based in Seattle. I don’t know…you and your work seem to really glow these days.

    Greetings all the way from Scandinavia,
    Sini

  3. Something about the sea sets a magical feel for a picnic; we remember the feeling from our recent trip to PEI.
    Your setting is just dreamy. Wish I could have been there!

  4. The photos are so beautiful and your writing, like always, goes straight to the heart.
    I will going to make this soup, very soon,for sure.
    Ruthi Carmi, http://www.mevashlimsfarim.com

  5. Rosa says:

    A fabulous feast and perfect place for spending some quality time.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  6. Just stunning, this picnic looks like a piece of heaven.

  7. Sabine says:

    It truly looks like you had your picnics in paradise! Love the coral color of the crab, and the chowder sounds heavenly!

  8. Meinhilde says:

    The enamel dishes you used are a perfect fit: rustic and durable but stylish. I need to go on a picnic now!

  9. we are so in love with these pictures!! and everything looks so delicious!
    great work!!
    x
    laura&nora

  10. Reina says:

    Hi Aran, I really enjoyed your post; back here in Amsterdam it feels like the summer is coming to an end, but through your post it lingers on, at least in the mind….

    Maybe this is an ignorant question in which case I’m sorry, but what is half and half….would love to make the chowder! Best regards, Reina

    • Aran says:

      No ignorant question :)

      Half and half is a dairy product you can find in the Us that is half whole milk and half heavy cream so you could use a mixture of both. Even regular whole milk or a lighter cream could work. Would change the texture slightly though but would taste good. Thanks.

  11. Linda says:

    Your work always blows me away. Just once I’d like to have a photo so beautiful.

  12. Tonya says:

    This park is the best!! I was in the same spot when we were there for the day (only it was slightly chillier) ;) Beautiful Aran…can’t wait to be back soon!!

  13. […] forgotten I wanted to share some photos of our day at Discovery Park until I recently saw my friend Aran’s beautiful post! So while it was grey and chilly, this was one of my favorite days in Seattle. A park on the sea, […]

  14. Jill says:

    So beautiful! When viewing these pictures I definitely forget all the work that goes into making it look like just another casual picnic on the beach!

  15. shobelyn says:

    I wish I still live in Washington so that I could join in one of your workshop – it is one in my bucket list. As always, very beautiful photos. At first I thought it was a magazine shoot and when I read your post, I was peaked that it was the workshop..

  16. Kreetta says:

    I love your work but I guess you know it! So much light. Here we are turning to autumn. I miss summer already but I have to say I like autumn too. ..and you know I have still few Iceland pics to do list..coming up in some point. I let you know. I hope you have wonderful week Aran!

    xo
    Kreetta

  17. […] you forgive me for posting two picnic stories in a row? As I mentioned on my last post, there have been so many picnics this summer. Most of them in Seattle, but I have to tell you I […]

  18. Jessica M says:

    Yay I’m so glad you posted the recipe for the chowder — I’ve been thinking of it ever since this picnic! Perfect timing too — we’re having a cold spell in San Francisco and chowder is just the ticket =)

  19. It all looks beautiful. And I love the picnic basket essentials :)

  20. […] reason for outdoor entertaining, light and floral cocktails, fresh summer vegetable dishes, seafood bakes and barbecues, colorful ice cream cones, and endless ways to eat toasted […]

  21. […] Bonus: If you’re curious about cooking up some of that summer corn and fennel chowder for yourself, check out local blogger, Cannelle et Vanille has the recipe. […]

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