Baltimore Style Crab Cakes

When I am in the mood for crab but don’t want the mess & hassle of cracking shells and digging the meat out, nothing fits the bill like a crab cake.  I’m not talking about a crab cake that’s mostly crappy breadcrumbs and other cheap fillers, I’m talking a cake filled with lush, sweet crab meat and little more.

FandW092018The September 2018 Food & Wine Magazine features their 40 “Best Ever Recipes,” which lured me in with a luscious chocolate cake on the cover, but they hooked me with this recipe for crab cakes, nine pages from the back of the magazine on page 95!

Andrew Zimmern’s Baltimore Style Crab Cakes

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (See note below)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
  • 20 saltine crackers, finely crushed (See note below)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (See note below)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce until smooth.

In a medium bowl, lightly toss the crab meat with the cracker crumbs. Gently fold in the mayonnaise mixture.   In Andrew Zimmern’s words, if you don’t over mix, and don’t pack your mounds too tightly, you will experience “pure, unadulterated crab cake heaven.”  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Scoop the crab mixture into eight 1/3-cup mounds; lightly pack into 8 patties, about 1+1/2 inches thick. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the crab cakes and cook over moderately high heat until deeply golden and heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the crab cakes to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

  • Tip 1:  If you prefer, you can substitute 1 1/2 tsp yellow or spicy mustard and omit the Dijon mustard and hot sauce
  • Tip 2:  You can substitute 1/2 cup Panko crumbs for the saltine crackers
  • Tip 3:  You can substitute any lightweight oil for the canola oil.  I prefer olive oil.
  • Tip 4:   If you plan to serve these as appetizers you can scoop them with a small cookie scoop, a soup spoon or melon baller – depending on whether you want them to be a 1 or 2 bite app.
  • MAKE AHEAD Crab cakes can be prepared thru Step 2 & refrigerated overnight

The recipe as written serves 4 people 2 patties each alongside a peppery arugula salad topped with diced mango, pineapple & cucumbers with a squeeze of lemon juice & a tablespoon of vinaigrette dressing.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

This recipe was originally published in 2012, and also appears on Andrew Zimmern’s website.  Food & Wine Magazine recommends pairing these crab cakes with a Muscadet#GirlsGoneWine  I’m not familiar with Muscadet, so I looked to my go to wine reference site, Wine Enthusiast, for an education on this brisk, lemony wine from the Loire Valley region of France.  Wine enthusiast says the flavor profile of Muscadet wine can vary from very neutral to tangy and saline.  Basic Muscadet wine is light in body and light in flavor, and may have a little spritz. Higher quality examples lean more towards a tangy saltiness and notes of flinty minerality, with a smooth texture and friendly, approachable nature.   As for specific recommendation, here’s a very affordable option:BougrierLesMartinieres

  • Bougrier Les Martinieres – This crisp, fruity white is an enjoyable accompaniment to shellfish and light appetizers. Its light sweetness adds richness to the light lemon, mineral and peach notes.  Total Wine $10.99

Bacon, Gruyère & Spinach Quiche

bacongruyerespinachquiche

I love quiche.  It’s one of those dishes that can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or it can even be poured into mini muffin tins and made into appetizer sized servings.  Quiche is also one of the rare egg-dominant recipes that can be made ahead and frozen for later use.  This recipe is one I found in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook years ago, and one that is still featured on their website. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Bacon, Gruyère & Spinach Quiche

  • All-purpose flour for rolling out dough
  • 1 disk cream cheese pie dough, thawed, or purchased piecrust
  • 6 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

Prepare the pie dough (Cream Cheese Pie Dough link above) or remove purchased pie dough from package

Preheat oven to 400°F.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch round tart pan and trim the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the overhang back over itself and pinch to create a sturdy edge. Pierce the dough all over with a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastry shell until the edges are lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Make the filling

In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan, add the shallot and cook just until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the spinach mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.

Bake the quiche

Sprinkle the bacon and the cheese into the pastry shell. Pour in the spinach mixture. Bake until the filling is set and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly. Remove the pan rim, cut the quiche into 6 wedges and serve warm. If freezing, set aside to cool (see note below). Serves 6.

Note: To freeze, let the baked quiche cool completely. Wrap in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months. To reheat, place the unwrapped quiche on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 325°F oven until heated through, about 40 minutes.

 

Start Your Meal Off Right

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When you’re relaxing before you’re ready to have dinner, but don’t want to sip on your wine without a little something to take the edge off of your hunger, these decidedly Southern, half moon shaped cheese biscuits are just the thing!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Southern Cheese Moons (Wine4Food)

  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cream together softened butter and finely shredded cheese, using the paddle on a stand mixer or a hand mixer.

Combine flour, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, mustard, and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk together well.

Slowly incorporate flour mixture and cheddar butter. Don’t over mix, just combine.

Transfer dough to parchment paper. Gently press into one ½-inch oval shape.

Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, press cutter in dough. Then, slice in half.

For any remaining dough, shape into ½-inch ovals.

Place the cut half moons onto a parchment paper or Silpat-lined baking sheet. The cheese biscuits should be a minimum of 2 inches apart.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Transfer to cooling rack.

Enjoy these biscuits with a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Petite Syrah or Sangiovese. #GirlsGoneWine

Aguachile de Camarón

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Photo By Chelsea Kyle

It seems like every appetizer served at parties, large or small, is forbidden to those who follow the low carb lifestyles touted by the Keto, Paleo and Atkins diets, but who has the time, or patience, to spend making some of the recipes for snacks that are allowed?

I went to a couple of my favorite “regular recipe” resources, Epicurious.com and Emeril’s on Planet Green, to see if there were any easy snack recipes that were low carb friendly and was pleasantly surprised! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Aguachile de Camarón

  • 2 Quarts Water
  • 2 TBLS Kosher Salt
  • 1 Pound Fresh Jumbo Shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 English Cucumber, peeled
  • 1 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Water
  • 2 to 3 Fresh Serrano Chiles, sliced
  • 1 TBLS Chopped Fresh Parsley
  1. Combine 2 quarts water and 2 TBLS cup salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil.
  2. Butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tail intact.
  3. Add shrimp and immediately turn off the heat.
  4. Let the shrimp sit until just cooked through, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Place shrimp in colander, run under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain.
  6. In a blender, combine the lime juice, olive oil, chiles, and 1/4 cup of cold water. Process until smooth then season to taste with salt.
  7. In a non-reactive bowl combine the shrimp with the dressing.  Cover and put into the refrigerator for 1 hour. (Can be made up to 4 hours before serving)
  8. Cut the cucumber into thin rectangular slices, about 3 inches long, and divide among 4 small plates.
  9. Arrange the shrimp on top of the cucumber slices, season as needed, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

**Non-Reactive Bowl:  Stainless-steel, enamel-coated or glass—is necessary when cooking with acidic foods, such as lemon, to prevent the food from reacting with the pan.  Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or off flavor

Salami Crisps (Epicurious)Salami-Crisps

  • 1/4 Pound (very thinly sliced) Genoa Salami, Soppressata, Pepperoni, Pancetta, Jamón Ibérico, Finocchiona, Coppa, or other charcuterie type dry cured meat
  • Cracked Black Pepper (if using an unspiced meat)
  • Parmesan Cheese (if desired)
  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Arrange salami slices in 1 layer on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. If using Parmesan Cheese, sprinkle slices lightly.
  4. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are crisp and beginning to curl, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Transfer slices to a rack to cool. (They will crisp as they cool.)

Serving Suggestion:  Small slices of cheese, olive oil marinated feta, or some herbs mixed into cream cheese are all Keto-friendly and would be good served with these crisps.

Smashed Blackberry Goat Cheese Toasts

Getting ready to have the #GirlsGoneWine over for a Tuesday night #SipSnackAndChat and came across the picture for this dreamy goat cheese #WryToast that just screams to the #WesterlyWineOhs, “Serve me with Westerly Red wine.”

Total prep time is 20 minutes, which makes this an easy weekday treat, plus the jam portion makes enough to feed a crowd and keeps in a sealed container in the refrigerator for two weeks, if you can leave it there that long. 😉

I made a couple of minor adjustments to the original recipe, but nothing drastic.

Smashed Blackberry Goat Cheese Toasts

  • 1 1/2 cups blackberriesBlackberry-Toasts
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest (I added this)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I substituted 1 tsp Grand Marnier® liqueur)
  • 1 1/2 tbsps sugar
  • 3 tbsps water
  • 1 – 2 tsps cornstarch, sifted
  • French Baguette, sliced
  • 8 oz goat cheese (More or Less depending on how many you are serving)
  • fresh mint to garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium saucepan combine the blackberries, blueberries, vanilla (Grand Marnier®), sugar, and water (covered) over a medium low flame. Once simmering and the fruit begins to burst (about 5 minutes) gently mash with a fork or potato masher, then whisk in the cornstarch until well incorporated.* Cover once more and simmer over a low flame until needed. (I removed from the heat so that the jam would cool and thicken)
  2. Meanwhile, toast the sliced baguette on a baking sheet in the oven as desired.  I made mine crispy but not crunchy.
  3. When ready, smear each slice with a thick layer of goat cheese, then spoon over with the smashed blackberries. Garnish with mint, then eat!

*add 1 tsp if you want the blackberries more runny, 2 tsps for a thicker texture!

Thankfully the freezer section is stocked with plenty of bagged blueberries, blackberries, and now even a mixed berry with pomegranate option that can make prepping this recipe easy and as easy to change as picking a different bag of frozen fruit! #GirlsGoneWine

Artichokes With Roasted Garlic Wine Dip

home-artichokeI love living in Southern California where there is the availability of local fruits and vegetables in the stores, as well as what is trucked and flown in from around the country and from other parts of the world, pretty much year-round.  It really makes cooking and eating fun! #ThisGirlLovesToEat 

One of the few things that I do have to be patient for are artichokes.  Nowhere grows them as big and meaty as we do in California.  In fact, 99.99% of all commercially grown artichokes are grown in California. 

CAF_fest_logo-2017Since I happen to love them, it’s a pretty good thing that Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom named artichokes the Official State Vegetable of California on April 10, 2013.  Artichokes from California are so fabulous that they’ve had their own festival for the past 56 years: Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival.

Some people dip their leaves in mayonnaise (which makes me want to gag), others in various aiolis, dips or other concoctions, but I’ve been a ridiculous creature of habit for as long as I can remember, eating my artichokes one way and one way only: dipping each succulent leaf into a bowl of melted butter.  Occasionally I may deviate in the preparation of the steam that surrounds my artichoke, adding some white wine, maybe some garlic or some lemon to the water, but I never deviate on my buttery leaf bath.  Until now.

This long forgotten recipe I’d clipped from the May 2007 edition of Cooking Light Magazine convinced me to change my ways (at least temporarily).

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Artichokes With Roasted Garlic Wine Dip

  • 2 whole garlic heads
  • 4 medium artichokes (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  1. Preheat Oven to 400° F.
  2. Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap each head separately in foil. Bake at 400° F for 45 minutes; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.
  3. Cut off stems of artichokes, and remove bottom leaves. Trim about 1/2 inch from tops of artichokes. Place artichokes, stem ends down, in a large Dutch oven filled two-thirds with water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until a leaf near the center of each artichoke pulls out easily. Remove artichokes from pan.
  4. Combine half of garlic pulp and wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Add broth; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter and salt. Pour mixture into a blender; add remaining half of garlic pulp. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Sprinkle dip with parsley, if desired. Serve dip with warm artichokes.

If you’re interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, gadget reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Buffalo Spinach Artichoke Dip

Tasting Table is one of my favorite Twitter follows.  I love browsing their website for restaurant reviews, recipes, new spins on classic drinks, and guides to cities I am planning to travel to.

I was surfing their website today and came across an appetizer that included 4 of my favorite tastes in a single dish: bacon, Buffalo sauce, spinach and artichoke hearts!  Add to that the ability to make ahead, the reviewers rated it 100% make again, and it didn’t call for any hard to get ingredients and this girl who loves to eat was sold!

Note:  I did adapt the recipe from the original:

    1. I prefer a bit more bacon (and I buy mine from the butcher case, never pre-packaged because we don’t have great options in my stores);
    2. I made the blue cheese optional (it’s not a favorite of mine) and offered some substitution options; and
    3. I added a bit more hot sauce to mine.

bcartdip

Buffalo Spinach-Artichoke Dip

  • 3 slices (5 ounces) thick-cut bacon (I use 6 slices)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 9 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and finely chopped
  • 6 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces smoked blue cheese, softened (I don’t care for Blue Cheese, so I substitute Gorgonzola.  You can also use Goat Cheese, Feta, Stilton, or Brie)
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons Franks Red Hot Sauce (I like mine spicy so I add a couple TBLS more)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the bacon over medium-high heat.  Cook, turning as needed, until the bacon is golden and the fat has rendered, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then finely chop and set aside.
  4. Add the garlic and onions to the pan and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the artichoke hearts and spinach and cook until the spinach is lightly wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir the cream cheese, blue cheese (or whatever cheese you’ve substituted), 1 cup of the Parmesan, sour cream, and hot sauce until smooth.
  7. Fold in the spinach and artichoke mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer to a 1½-quart casserole dish and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup of Parmesan with the chopped bacon, panko crumbs and olive oil.
  10. Sprinkle the panko crumb topping over the dip and place the casserole dish on a sheet pan in case any cheese bubbles over.
  11. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes, then serve.

tt_logo_image_1The recipe calls for serving with chips.  I like to eat this dip with really thick, freshly made tortilla chips, Triscuits, carrot chips, thick bell pepper slices or celery.

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