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

Indoor Grilled Swordfish

swordfish

One of the things I hear people complain about when summer ends is that cook-out season is over.  I’ve always thought that was odd.  My family grilled year round.  I remember my dad and grandpa out on the deck of our mountain cabin, even in the snow, grilling steaks on the BBQ.  For some people though, the harshness of the winters where they live just doesn’t make that an option.  Solution: their oven’s broiler and a good broiler pan!

broilerdrawerI’d never consider it if I had to use the hard to clean, slide out broiler pan drawer that was part of my mom’s 1970’s oven.  Thankfully technology has improved enough to encourage me to give indoor broiling a try.  When I upgraded my slide in range there was a parts order form included. The only thing that caught my eye was an easy to clean broiler pan with a roasting rack.  Once I had the part number it was easy to find, and get it faster, on Amazon.  As soon as I got it, I started experimenting with fast & easy indoor grilling recipes for the winter.kitchenaidwhirlpoolbroilerpan

Indoor Grilled Swordfish

  • 2 – 4 to 6 oz swordfish filets
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups arugula
  • sliced cucumber
  • sliced tomato
  • bottled red wine vinagrette
  • olive oil spray

Swordfish:

Remove the slotted top of the broiler rack and set aside.  Line the inside of the broiler pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup).  Spray the roasting rack lightly with olive oil spray and place onto the foil lined broiler pan.

Liberally salt and pepper one side of the swordfish steaks and place, seasoned side down, onto the prepared rack. Salt and pepper the top side of the swordfish steaks, then squeeze your lemon over each steak until you’ve gotten about 2 tsp of juice on each steak.  Brush each steak with the melted butter. Put them under the broiler, about 2 to 3 inches from the heat source. Broil the steaks for about 4 minutes.

Turn the swordfish steaks, squeeze your lemon over each steak, brush each with melted butter and broil for 5 minutes longerDO NOT OVERCOOK or your swordfish will get rubbery.  When your steaks have finished cooking, remove the broiling pan from the oven, set on the stove, and tent loosely with foil while you prepare your salad.

Salad:

Divide the arugula between 2 plates.  Divide your tomatoes between the plates, with then just to the side of the arugula.  Stack & quarter your cucumber slices then divide them between the plates, scattering them atop the arugula.  If it’s avocado season, and you like them, slice one up and add it to the top of your salad.  Lightly dress your salad with 2 TBLS red wine vinagrette.  You don’t want to overpower the lightness of your fish.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Ultimate Shrimp & Grits

I’ll never be able to do enough cardio to exercise off the deep love I have for the food of my Daddy’s Alabama family.  Shrimp & Grits are, by far, the one dish I can never say no to, as my jeans will attest…

This Food Network recipe from Tyler Florence tabs itself the “Ultimate” and I have to say, he’s not just tooting his own horn.  This dish is pretty damn good & it satisfies my 3 recipe musts:

  • Must be quick
  • Must have ingredients that are easy to find
  • Must not require culinary school skills to make!


Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Shrimp & Grits

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the milk and cream. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, thin it out with a little extra cream. Season with salt and pepper.

  • 2 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped (1 tsp pre-chopped in the jar)
  • 1 pound Andouille, or spicy Italian sausage, cut in chunks
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • pinch cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBLS finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; saute for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in the bay leaves. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Add the cayenne pepper, Tabasco and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the parsley and green onion. Spoon the grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and mix well. Serve immediately with crusty bread and ice cold beer. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Lemon Pepper Shrimp

shrimplemonpepperlinguine

Once school starts, week night sit down dinners together for most families become a memory.  This recipe requires few ingredients, can be made in under 30 minutes (while Mama is sipping her glass of wine), can be made ahead and reheated, and makes week night dinners together something that doesn’t have to stop as soon as summer is over!  This serves 4 but can easily be doubled to serve a larger family or guarantee leftovers. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Lemon Pepper Shrimp with Linguine

  • 1 – 8 ounce package linguine pasta
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic minced (I use the pre-chopped jars which would equal 3 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, like sauvignon blanc
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 TBLS chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 TBLS chopped fresh basil
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Whole basil leaves for garnish

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil
  2. Add linguine and return to a boil
  3. Cook according to package directions for al dente pasta (usually 11 to 13 minutes)
  4. Drain the pasta and put into a large bowl
  5. Toss with 1 to 2 TBLS olive oil and set aside
  6. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and saute garlic about 1 minute
  7. Mix in chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, & pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is reduced by about 1/2
  8. Mix shrimp, butter, parsley, and basil into the saucepan
  9. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until shrimp is opaque
  10. Stir in the cooked linguine, and continue cooking 2 minutes, until well coatedWesterlySauvBlanc14

To serve, place a mound of pasta in the center of dish and divide the shrimp and sauce evenly between the plates. If desired sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese atop and garnish with leaves of basil.  This dish pairs nicely with chilled Sauvignon Blanc. #GirlsGoneWine

Lazy Sunday Skewers

salmonskewers

You work all week looking forward to the two long lazy days off, but how often do you just get to relax and do absolutely nothing on Saturday and Sunday?  If you’re like most people, there’s errands to run, kids to shuttle to one sporting or social event or another, family gatherings, and maybe even date night on one or both nights so that by Sunday you’re exhausted.

The last thing you want to do on your one day off is spend it in the kitchen.  Skewers are the perfect solution to that cooking dilemma.  Skewers are also great for grilling at picnics, parties, & tailgates.

No matter which recipe you are making there are some simple kebab tips:

  1. Cut the ingredients into similar-size pieces and prepare as the recipe directs.
  2. If marinating, refrigerate 1 hour for fish and up to overnight for meat and poultry.
  3. Preheat a grill to high.
  4. If using wood skewers, soak skewers in water for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Thread the ingredients onto skewers.
  6. Use 2 skewers per kebab, side-by-side, to keep the food from spinning and make flipping on the grill easier.
  7. Grill the kebabs, turning, until the ingredients are charred and cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 15 minutes.

Rosemary Lamb: rosemarylambskewers

  • Marinate 1 pound cubed lamb leg in 1/2 cup olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, 4-6 stems fresh rosemary (leaves stripped), 3 smashed garlic cloves, and salt & pepper.
  • Skewer with 1 to 1+1/2  inch chunks of zucchini & grill.

Garlic-Dijon Salmon:

  • Marinate 1 to 1+1/2 pounds de-boned, skinned, chunks wild-caught salmon in 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 TBLS chopped fresh parsley, freshly ground sea salt and pepper.
  • Skewer with slices of lemon between the salmon. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Serve on top of grilled asparagus spears.

caesarskewer

Chicken Caesar:

  • Mix 1 pound ground chicken2 tablespoons Caesar dressing1/2 cup Parmesan1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1 teaspoon lemon zest.
  • Form into mini burgers, skewer and grill.
  • Serve on whole romaine leaves with grilled crusty garlic bread and more dressing.

bucaneerporkskewerBuccaneer Pork:

Boil 1 cup water, 3 TBLS each salt and brown sugar, 2 tsp pickling spices & 4 garlic cloves. Add 1 cup rum, then cool. Add 1 pound cubed pork tenderloin and marinate. Skewer with pineapple chunks. Grill, basting with bottled jerk sauce.  Serve over steamed white rice#ThisGirlLovesToEat

I like My Chowder Red

ClamChowderPlated small

I love seafood!  Cooked or raw, I love it all, so I was pissed when I developed an allergy to one of my favorites, scallops!  Lobster, crab, & clams are my first choices if available, so, thankfully, that was the only shellfish that I’m affected by or it would definitely be #HoustonWeHaveAProblem!

Because I actually like to taste the clams, and don’t want to have to dig through a murky sea of potatoes in search of a few scattered slivers, there are few places, outside of Ivar’s clemin Seattle & Atlantic Fish Company in Boston, where I choose the cream based New England Clam Chowder that most people are familiar with.  If given the choice, I much prefer the spicier, tomato, broth based, Manhattan Clam Chowder.

Because few places on the west coast offer a decent version of the chowder I prefer, I found a couple of recipes that I was able to pull parts from to create one that’s both satisfying and can be made with minimal effort.

Manhattan Inspired Clam Chowder

  • 48 little neck clams
  • 2 – 8 oz bottles clam juice
  • Quarter pound bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Pinch dried, crushed red pepper
  • 2 celery stalks, quartered & chopped
  • 2 carrots, quartered & chopped
  • 2 large white potatoes, cut into half-inch cubes
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 Cup dry white wine (Chardonnay is fine)
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 TBLS chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)
  1. Wash the clams well under cold running water in colander.
  2. Place clams in a large pot, and add enough water to cover clams by 2 inches.
  3. Cover the pan and place over high heat.
  4. When the water comes to a boil, give the pan a good shake.
  5. Turn the heat to low, and cook clams another 30 seconds or so.
  6. Remove from the heat, and take out all the clams that have opened, using a slotted spoon. If any clams remain closed, put back on the heat, with the lid on the pan, and cook another 1-2 minutes.
  7. Remove remaining clams, reserve, discard any clams that have not opened.
  8. Pour the clam juice through a fine strainer and measure.  If you have more than 4 cups, simmer to reduce to 4 cups.
  9. Put the bacon into a large, heavy saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the bacon begins to brown. Pour off excess fat, leaving behind the bacon and about 3 tablespoons of fat in the pan.
  10. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and crushed red pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes.
  11. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up all of the brown bits
  12. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute more.
  13. Tie the parsley sprigs, fresh thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine and add to the pot.
  14. Add the reserved clam cooking liquid, the bottled clam juice, the potatoes, and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  15. While chowder is coming to a boil, remove clams from their shells and chop coarsely. Add to chowder and reduce heat to low.
  16. Cook over low heat for another 5 minutes; check to make sure potatoes are soft and chowder is well seasoned.
  17. Remove and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Divide among warm soup bowls and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.

For a fancy touch you can leave a few clams in the shell and float a couple in the bowl.  Serve with crusty sourdough bread and butter and a salad for a hearty meal. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

You have a few wine options with this chowder:

  • (White) Partially-Oaked Dry California Chardonnay pairs nicely with the crushed red pepper, potatoes, thyme and onion in this dish
  • (White) Unoaked Medium-dry German Riesling is a nice compliment to the tomatoes, onions, peppers and potatoes in this dish
  • (Red) Oaked Italian Barbaresco pairs beautifully with the peppers, potatoes, onions and celery in this dish

WesterlyChardWesterly Wines 2014 Bentrock ChardonnayRated a 93 by Wine Enthusiast: Available at The Original Wine Club

DrHeidemannsBernkastelAuslese2016Dr. Heidemanns Bernkastel Auslese Riesling – Rated a 93 by Wine Enthusiast:  Available at Totalwine.com for $19.99.

RivataBarbarescoRivata Barbaresco – Intense, cherry spiced, medium bodied, and available at Totalwine.com for $21.99. #GirlsGoneWine

Aguachile de Camarón

AGUACHILE-DE-CAMARÓN-18072016
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.