June 21, 2017

Top Drawer Crab Cakes





Ingredients:

1 lb jumbo lump blue crab meat
1 slice of loaf brioche, torn into tiny pieces
1/2 teaspoon good quality dry mustard (like Colman's)
1-2 tablespoons Old Bay (depends on how Baltimore you are)
1 egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Directions:

Heat 1/2-inch canola oil in a large skillet. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, Old Bay, egg and mayo until smooth. Add the crab and bread. Form the mixture into 5-6, 3-4-inch, 1/2 inch thick patties. Place in the pan and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and heated through (about 5 minutes on each side). They are a little more fragile than some so take care to only flip them once. Drain on paper towel-lined plates and serve.


My thoughts:
I've made Baltimore (or Maryland if you prefer) crab cakes a lot. I've posted the method I personally use most frequently which is similar to what I grew up eating and the another method that I didn't grow up with but that is also very popular which uses crushed saltines as the binder. I haven't posted one using bread crumbs yet (another popular method) but maybe one day.

This recipe is basically a richer version of what I grew up eating. It uses eggy, slightly sweet brioche (I buy the sandwich loaf brioche at Aldi) to bind, mayonnaise for a really creamy texture, and straight jumbo lump (no backfin). The result is a  more decadent crab cake that is just as simple to make as "normal" crab cakes. Perfect for making a weeknight special.



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June 19, 2017

Chipotle Summer Squash and Sirloin Chili


Ingredients:
1 lb cubed sirloin or stew meat
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 small zucchini or yellow squash, sliced into coins
1 onion, diced
7 oz chipotles in adobe, minced (with sauce)
20 oz (2 cans) diced tomatoes with chopped chiles, drained
30 oz (2 cans) dark red kidney beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 1/2 tablespoons New Mexican chili powder
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Spray a skillet with nonstick spray. Quickly saute the meat until the meat is just barely cooked on all sides. Add to a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir. In a small bowl, stir together the chipotles in adobe, tomatoes, beans, vegatables, and spices. Pour over the meat mixture. Stir to evenly combine. Cook on low 7-8 hrs and then high until ready to serve (up to 2 hours). Stir prior to serving.

Note: if the chili looks watery then turn up to high and leave the lid ajar for 30 minutes or until thickened.

My thoughts:
A rainy summer day calls for a slightly summery take on the usual slow cooker chili. I say this every year but it is true, I like using my slow cooker way more in the summer than I do in the winter. In the winter, I don't mind the stove and oven heating up the house but in the summer, in my 1930s house with only a window unit to cool the whole first floor, baking and boiling hold little interest. It isn't as if every summer meal is going to be a salad or sandwich or made on the grill (although we do a lot of all that) some are going to be hot and made indoors! Might as well make use of the slow cooker! This chili is on the spicy side and quite hearty. I like it with some sour cream on top to take the edge off. It also makes great use of summer squash--something I am already seeing in abundance. Perfect for a hot, steamy rainy summer evening.

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June 07, 2017

Greek-esque Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad



Ingredients:

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup halved kalamata olives
1/2 crumbed feta
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
salt
freshly ground black pepper
red pepper flakes

Directions:
Lightly steam the caulflower and broccoli. Drain and allow to cool. Place in a large bowl and toss with olive, onion and feta. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and spices. Drizzle over vegetable mixture. Toss to evenly distribute. Refrigerate and serve within 24 hrs.
My thoughts:

I've never been to Greece so I'm not even sure they are big cauliflower or broccoli eaters but my favorite flavors from Greek cuisine inspired this simple salad. Cauliflower and broccoli can be a bit blah so I am always trying to think of new ways to dress them up. This salad is full of flavor from the vinaigrette, olives and cheese yet it takes like 10 minutes to pull together which is about where my attention span is right now. I say work smarter, not harder.

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June 05, 2017

Coconut Mini Layer Cake



Ingredients:

for the cake:

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour
pinch of salt

for the icing:

4 oz brick cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1-2 teaspoons dark rum or vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut

Directions:

for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

In a separate small bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and coconut milk alternately, beginning and ending with the coconut milk. Pour evenly into two buttered and floured four-inch pans. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool 5 mins in the pan. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a rack. If the tops are very domed, slice the top off one to make it flat and use it to make the bottom layer of the cake.

for the icing:

In a large bowl, beat together the vanilla/rum, cream cheese, and confectioners sugar until smooth. Add more confectioners sugar in 2 tablespoon increments if you want or need a stiffer or sweeter frosting. Take out 1/3 of the frosting and mix with 1/3 of the coconut flakes. Spread top of one cake and place the second cake on top. Spread the remaining frosting over the cake and coat with coconut.

My thoughts:

We were going to buy Matt's birthday cake at a bakery this year so we could focus on picking crabs and not baking but we realized that since his birthday is Memorial Day this year and the day before is a Sunday, both bakeries we thought about ordering from would be closed. Since it is just the two of us, I ordered this set of tiny cake pans and made a teeny-tiny layer cake. It was a little tricky to figure out the proportions (and you might find you have a bit of icing leftover but better too much than too little right?) but basically it is a regular cake scaled down by nearly 3/4.

This cake would also be perfect for a child's birthday (they could have their own cake all to themselves!) or even made in multiples for an event. I'm kind of looking forward to making more tiny layer cakes down the line. It is just too cute!


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