Baptism of the Lord

The first Sunday of Epiphany is widely celebrated as the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It used to be part of Epiphany itself, and still is in some traditions. The Baptism is a major revelation of who Jesus is: the Son, the Beloved, and the one in whom God is well-pleased. While his brith was the beginning of his life, the baptism was the beginning of his ministry. This is where Jesus’ identity was confirmed by God, his Father. The church teaches that Jesus was baptized not for his sake, so much, as for ours.

In our baptisms, we are baptized into Jesus and receive new birth by water and the Spirit. As Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s brith, baptism is the celebration of our new birth in Christ and is therefore a personal Christmas. At the baptism of the Lord, we renew our baptismal vows, confirm the identity that we have in Christ, and celebrate our new birth.

Many traditions use water to mark a sign of the cross on the worshippers forehead in this remembrance. We love the Greek Orthodox tradition of the youth diving in the cold January water to find a hidden cross. This day is an invitation for all us us to take the polar plunge in some way remembering that we are baptized, and that in Christ we are God’s children – sons and daughters, the beloved ones, and we are the ones in whom God is well-pleased.

For this celebration we are baking seafood stuffed shells.  Shells have long been the main symbol of baptism and having them filled with aquatic bounty makes them seem particularly appropriate. Dive in and enjoy!

Pictured Above: The Baptism of Christ by Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1475


Seafood Stuffed Shells

Prep Time: 45 Minutes | Bake Time: 25 – 30 Minutes

Ingredients

6 ounces dry jumbo pasta shells (approximately 25 shells)
Olive oil (for drizzling)
8 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp
1 pound crabmeat
8 ounces sea scallops, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Dash of Old Bay seasoning
1 medium shallot, minced
Salt and Pepper (for seasoning)
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle position.
  2. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook 6 oz jumbo pasta shells according to package instructions, usually 8 – 10 minutes.
  3. Making sure to reserve the pasta-cooking water for the next step, transfer the cooked shells to a large bowl of cold water until cooled slightly. Drizzle shells very lightly with oil and toss to coat. Set aside.
  4. Cook 8 oz peeled and deveined shrimp in the pasta water until barely cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, chill in ice bath, then drain again. Chop shrimp into small pieces.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 pound crabmeat, 8 ounces sea scallops (cut into small pieces), 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, dash of Old Bay seasoning, and 1 medium minced shallot. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
  6. In a small saucepan, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat, being careful to not allow it to brown. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and whisk to form a paste. Continue to cook, continuously stirring for about 1 minute. While still stirring constantly, slowly add 1 1/2 cups milk . The sauce will initially be very thick, then get very thin once all the milk is added. Add bay leaf.
  7. Heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to simmer and thicken slightly. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for another additional 2 – 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and discard bay leaf.
  8. Lightly grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with oil. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce (from steps 6 and 7) in an even layer on bottom of baking dish.
  9. Fill a shell with a large scoop of seafood mixture and place in baking dish with the opening side up. Repeat until all shells have been filled.
  10. Spoon remaining 1 cup of the sauce on top of shells.
  11. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and mix with the 1 cup panko bread crumbs. Season with salt. Sprinkle bread crumbs over shells.
  12. Bake shells until heated through, about 25 minutes. To brown the breadcrumbs, switch oven to broiler setting and broil until golden brown, being careful to watch closely and not allow the dish to burn.