Friday, September 30, 2011


 This makes 4-6 crabcakes. I made 5. Start at least 1-1/2 hours before serving, if you can, to allow time for chilling. If you can't, you can't. You can make them several hours in advance and keep chilled in the fridge. They take less than 10 minutes to cook, so be sure to serve 'em hot.

  • 1 pound crab, either all lump or lump and backfin mixed; cooked and sorted through to make sure there aren't shell pieces lurking
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (if you can't get this, there are recipes on the Web. Mostly it's paprika, celery salt, a little ginger, salt, pepper; if you can get something called Sate seasoning, that's actually pretty close, too.)
  • salt and pepper (careful with the salt, especially if using celery salt already and if using crushed saltines for the breading)
  • any other spices you want to perk it up; I add a little extra smoked paprika and a touch of cayenne, but not too much!
  • cracker crumbs or bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs. I'm using Panko today. Sometimes I use cornbread crackers. I've heard of using ground up cornflakes. Fun to try 'em all. Quantity depends on what you use and, frankly, how wet the crabmeat is. Today I used about 1/2 cup for the mix and another 1/2 cup for the outside.
  • oil for frying, 2 to 3 T
Mix the egg, mayo, mustard and spices  in a bowl. Add the checked-over crabmeat and mix gently with your fingers. Slowly add the crumbs so that you add just enough to be able to form the cakes and have them hold together.

Put the rest of the crumbs on a plate or platter
Gently form four to six cakes out of the mixture. Transfer each to the crumb plate to get a thin layer of crumbs on the outside.You may want to use a turner for this to prevent them falling apart.  If they start falling apart anyway or are too wet, add a bit more of the crumbs and reform.

When all the cakes are formed and breaded, put the plate of them in the fridge for an hour or so to let them "set up." This will make it easier to fry them without them falling apart. They may fall apart a little anyway, but that's not fatal. Still good!

Heat oil in skillet on medium high and fry for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, just until nicely golden brown. Do not mess around with them -- gently turn them just once. Alternately, place on an oiled baking pan and brush lightly on top with oil or butter and stick 'em under the broiler, 3-5 minutes on each side.

Memo to the British  isles: Please note that no mashed potatoes were used in this recipe.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bacon, cheese and tomato, again -- never boring!

A friend gave me some really, really good bacon and a couple of wonderful tomatoes from the farmers market, and it is July, so I had to make my favorite summer sandwich again. But here's a tip:

To cook a bunch of bacon, so you can make sandwiches and salad for the rest of the week, use your broiler. In my gas broiler, if I use the second to the top rack, it's 5 minutes on one side and 3 on the other. Yours might be different. But it's way easier than frying in a skillet, and most of the fat drains off, although you'll still want to drain the bacon on paper towels. Now you can refrigerate and use all week -- as if it would last all week! Too delicious.

Toast the bread very lightly first. (If you don't, it will probably be soggy. If you get it all the way to toast, by the time this is done, it will be burnt toast. Trust me.) Put the bacon on it.  Put the tomato slice on that. If you want to add onion, put the onion slice under the tomato. That's just the way it goes. Then add your favorite cheese, or whichever of your favorite cheese you have, as long as it is a good melting cheese. This is Jarlsberg. I'd recommend anything in the Swiss, Monterey Jack or Cheddar categories. It would taste good with melted brie, Camembert, etc., but might be too much for some people, and definitely messy.

Broil just until cheese is melty/toasty, but don't let the bacon and toast burn! So I can't give you a time, you just have to watch it.

Chicken & mushrooms to save and savor

This is a way to make some really good food that you can enjoy now, take to work and reheat in the microwave, and freeze for later. Or feed a crowd, if that's what you need to do.

Ingredients are chicken, mushrooms, garlic, shallot, tomatoes, and whatever green veggie you have. I had broccoli. And of course, salt, pepper, and whatever herbs and spices you like.  Simple. But,.boy, is this tasty.

My store had those "family packs" of chicken thighs on sale again. Boneless, but with the skin, which I like for the flavor. Bone in is good, too -- this recipe would still work, but they might need to cook longer.

Because they were boneless, the "fillets" opened up and could be arranged flat on the baking pan. I put a little, but very little, olive oil on the pan first, just to prevent sticking. The chicken will do the rest! You definitely cannot use a cookie sheet for this, because of the fat that will come out. If you don't have a pan with sides  like the one in the picture, those Pyrex baking dishes work well, too.

Season the chicken, put the minced garlic and shallot on it, put the sliced mushroom on, put the tomato and broccoli on -- in winter, even canned tomato would do.

With the fillets, I cooked for 20 minutes at 350; if you were using bone-in thighs, because they are thicker, they might take longer, so you should check.

When you reheat them (from the fridge or freezer), I wouldn't mind if you added some grated cheese.

I made a batch of couscous to eat them with, and of course you can freeze that in portions in containers, too. I saved the pan juices, skimmed most of the fat off, and used that when I made the couscous, so it was extra delicious.

You could freeze some without any "side" and make noodles or quinoa or couscous fresh, preferably using good chicken stock, even store-bought, instead of water. Get the kind in the carton, not in the can! Also, you could freeze without the tomatoes and add some fresh ones when you reheat.

Also makes a good sandwich on good whole-grain bread. Add mayo, bbq sauce, honey-mustard dressing, whatever you like.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Moules frites, sort of

"Pommes Patricia" with moules (mussels) and of course white wine.
Just got my 1000-watt, 14-cup Cuisinart -- that's right, a THOUSAND watts! 14 cups! -- and was feeling in a French-food mood. My grocery had beautiful mussels at a good price, so that clinched it. I do not have a deep fryer, so I made my variation on Pommes Anna instead of actual fries. I've posted both recipes here before, so no need to repeat. The food processor made very quick work of slicing the spuds, as well as chopping the garlic, shallots and onion for the mussel-cooking liquid.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Grilled sausages and asparagus

Simplest possible meal that involves any cooking at all. And so tasty.
Heat grill. Wash asparagus. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Open package of chicken-apple sausage or whatever kind you like. Grill. The asparagus takes less time than the meat.
Done. Great way to initiate the grill for spring!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Inside-out stuffed mushrooms (working title)

The recipe:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can also use thigh fillets, but you'll need about two per serving)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 sweet pepper, chopped (or a couple of the "baby" sweet peppers)
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage, mild or hot, your choice. If you can only buy it in casings, squeeze it out. Fun in a gross way.
  • about 5 cremini mushrooms, sometimes called baby bellas
Brown the sausage. Chop the veggies. Take the sausage out of the skillet and sweat the veggies, adding salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you want. You may need to add some olive oil if the sausage didn't give off much grease, just enough to coat the pan before you put the veggies in. Sweat them until they are soft -- they'll give off a lot of liquid, which you can get rid of or save to use for basting stuff with.

While the stuffing ingredients cool enough to handle, pound out the fillets and salt and pepper them.

Heat the oven to 350. Oil a jelly roll pan or Pyrex baking dish.
Put about a tablespoon of the sausage and a tablespoon of the veggies on each fillet and roll it up, setting the "seam" side down on the pan.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Let rest a few minutes before slicing.

The back story:
Stuffed mushrooms are delicious, and fun to make for parties and such. But why not enjoy those flavors for an entree? So here it is.

A tip:
Double the recipe for the "stuffing" part to have leftover sausage and veggies to use for tacos, snacks, pasta sauce or to freeze for next time.

Another tip: These are great to take for lunch -- 2 minutes in the microwave.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Comfort food: Hash browns with cheese

As comfort food, this is even better, to me, than macaroni and cheese. Potatoes and cheese -- nothing is better! And if you have a food processor, nothing is easier.

For this recipe, take two medium potatoes, wash them. If you are really fussy, or if you are going to grate them manually peel them, but it doesn't matter.  Grate them. For years, I used a manual grater, in which case you leave them whole but peel them. But now I use my food processor. So I wash them and cut them into quarters to stuff down the chute of the food processor.

Turn the oven to 350. You'll need it later.

On the stove top, heat that big ol' cast iron skillet with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Put the grated potatoes in and press them down a little to ensure contact. Cook on high for about 5 minutes or until brown on the bottom side.. Turn. Cook for another 5 minutes or -- well, you know. By then the oven should be at 350. Stick the skillet in and set a timer on 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add grated cheese. Cook for another 10 minutes until the cheese is melty and even a little crispy. Yum..

To make it pretty, cut rounds of hash browns and cheese, and add garnishes such as cherry tomatoes and basil.. I used an Iced Tea glass to cut the rounds, because although I may have a round biscuit cutter somewhere, I learned to use what was handy. But if you are not taking a picture, skip that part and just enjoy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


In Scotland, pronounced to rhyme with Fonz, these are sort of in between biscuits and muffins. Not nearly as sweet as muffins. I've never made them myself before and plan on tinkering with the recipe further, but these came out pretty well. Some recipes call for milk, some for cream. I only had skim milk on hand, so decided to be brave and use 2% fat Greek yogurt, and added a teaspoon of baking soda to try to balance the acidity.

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 T baking powder
3 T sugar

Cut in with a pastry cutter (or two forks, or use a food processor), as for pie dough
6 T unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

In a smaller bowl, mix:
2 eggs
1/3 C. Greek yogurt

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until combined -- don't over mix; as with biscuits, that would make them tough. With floured hands, pat onto a lightly floured board, either into a round shape to cut into eight wedges or a square to cut into eight triangles.

Carefully transfer to a baking sheet, preferably with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper, or greased. Bake 20-25 minutes, being careful not to overbake. Optional: After about 15 minutes, brush with butter and sprinkle sugar on. Cool on a baking rack for 5 minutes. Eat with butter, yogurt, preserves, honey, whatever you like.

Next time I think I will add blueberries to the wet ingredients!


About Me

My photo
This is me enjoying a limoncello in Rome on the last night of our trip to Italy. Funny thing is, I don't really like limoncello that much, but thought it would be great in a dessert. And wouldn't you know, The Barefoot Contessa just did a great fruit salad with limoncello. So now I can't. Oh, well.