July 12, 2018

Cornmeal Battered Soft Crabs with Old Bay Corn Grits





Ingredients:

for the crabs:
4 soft crabs, cleaned
2 cups milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
2-3 tablespoons Old Bay, divided use
freshly ground black pepper

for the grits:
1 cup yellow stone-ground grits
3 cup water or chicken stock
1/3 cup grated Gouda
1 tablespoon Old Bay
4 ears' worth of (cooked) corn kernels
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

for the crabs:

Whisk together the milk, egg and half of the Old Bay in a medium bowl. Pour into a resealable bag, add the crabs. Seal and refrigerate 1 hour.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal, and remaining spices together in a bowl. Dredge both sides of each crab in the seasoned flour. Place on a platter until ready to fry.

Heat 1/4 inch oil in a large pan. Fry the crabs for 3-5 minutes on each side or until crisp and fully cooked. Drain on paper towel-lined plates.

for the grits:

In a medium pot, bring the water or stock and Old Bay to a boil. Add the grits and stir continually for about 10 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and corn. Serve immediately.


My thoughts:
We had such a seafood weekend! We had a clambake in the Inner Harbor that had clam, mussels, crabs, lobster, and sausage then the next day we had steamed crabs and corn at home in the backyard. The only thing we didn't have was soft crabs. Soft crabs are possibly my most favorite food so this clearly needed to be rectified.

I purchased live soft crabs and stored them in my fridge until I was ready to make them then I cleaned them. You can use defrosted, previously frozen, cleaned soft crabs but you do not want to buy dead nonfrozen soft crabs as they spoil really quickly and you have no way of knowing how long they were dead! It is okay to buy them alive and have the store clean them for you as long as you make them quickly and keep them cool.  If you live in a blue crab area, seafood markets and locally owned grocery stores are your best bet, although I will be honest and say I have also bought them at stands on the side of the road. They're alive and if they were spoiled, I'd know so I feel safe doing that. But that's pro-level crab procurement.  If you are local, feel free to email me and I will tell you where I get my crabs. I always bring a cooler and huge ice pack to transport my crabs home in since it is summer and I don't want to poison us.

Anyway, I normally do a flour coat for my soft crabs and make sandwiches but I got fancy this time and busted out the cornmeal and made grits on the side using up the extra corn on the cob the steamed crab place gave us for some reason. It was such a good meal! I also made another vegetable dish but honestly, the grits and the soft crabs were enough. The crabs were super juicy and flavorful (the batter and the fact that you eat them shell and all really keeps the flavor in) and the creamy grits tied in perfectly. I really want to make this same meal again, right now.

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July 09, 2018

Golden Flannel Hash






Ingredients:
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
2 lbs Russet potatoes, cubed
3/4 lb corned beef, cubed
2 "baby" or "spring" Vidalia onions, greens and white parts chopped
2 yellow beets with greens*
1 bunch lacinato kale, chopped
fresh thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

fried eggs to serve

Directions:

Cube the beets (chop and reserve the greens) and parboil with the potatoes. Drain thoroughly.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion, potatoes, and beets until the onion is translucent. Add the corned beef, greens, herbs and spices. Saute until the corned beef is heated through. Plate and top with fried egg(s).




*I used yellow cylindra beets which are so pale they are almost white.



My thoughts:
Red flannel hash is a classic New England breakfast dish that adds red beets to corned beef hash. The story behind the name varies depending on who telling it (I've heard everything from laundry mishaps to vengeful wives serving actual flannel to bizarre war stories) but the most common explanation is that the finished dish looks like a red flannel shirt thanks to the beets dying the potatoes pink and the pinky corned beef.

Beets are in season so I thought it was a perfect excuse to make it! I also bought corned beef and froze it back near St Patrick's day and my freezer is bursting at the seams so it's a win-win for me. My beets turned out to be yellow so I changed the name to golden flannel hash and added the beet greens and (also in season) kale for some extra flavor and vitamins(!) which is not strictly traditional but I think it makes a great addition. This would be a good use of leftover greens or cabbage if you had some too. While hash seems breakfasty, it is so hearty, I like to serve it for dinner. I parboil the potatoes ahead of time so it comes together more quickly, they keep just fine in the fridge for a day or two.

So homey and satisfying, even if it is summer and it seems slightly better suited for winter! It's not like you stop eating hot food just because it is hot out and at least this only needs a brief fry to heat everything up. Plus all of the vegetables are in season right now so why not use them at their peak tastiness?


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July 06, 2018

Fresh Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies





Ingredients:

5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cherries
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chips



Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-stick silicone baking mats. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla, and sugar. Add the egg, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until well combined.

Fold in cherries and chips. Place heaping 1 tablespoon sized blobs of dough (I used this cookie scoop or size down for smaller cookies) on the prepared cookie sheet (about 1 inch apart, they spread) and bake for 14 minutes or until they look "set" and the bottoms are just brown. Cool in the pan 1-2 minutes then carefully remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies


My thoughts:
I made fresh cranberry cookies many years ago and thought I'd revisit the idea of making something that is normally made with dried fruit (a cookie) with fresh fruit again. I had a bunch of cherries left after making cherry butter and freezing some so I chopped some up to make cookies. I'm pleased with the results! The batter was a little on the oddly fluffy side so I was worried a bit but they came out great! Sort of chewy, full of cherry flavor and with the right hint of chocolate. Since they have oatmeal in them you can almost fool yourself into thinking they are good for you too!

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July 02, 2018

OLD BAY Party Mix



Ingredients:
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon OLD BAY
4  cups corn squares cereal
4  cups rice squares cereal
1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cup mini-twist pretzels
2 cups oyster crackers

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Melt butter on the stovetop in a small pan, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and OLD BAY.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the cereals, peanuts, pretzels, and oyster crackers. Carefully pour into an ungreased jelly roll pan.




Drizzle with OLD BAY butter.

Gently stir the cereal mixture in until coated. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels until cooled. Store in an airtight container up to one week.


Yield: about 12 cups of mix

My thoughts:
You guys all know how much I love OLD BAY. Growing up in Baltimore, I don't think you have a choice. It is in our veins. I've posted 43(!) recipes using OLD BAY in everything from classics like crabcakes, crab dip and crab imperial to "popcorn" cauliflower and zucchini pickles. I'm not ashamed to say I buy it in bulk and only once have I actually steamed crabs at home. I just use it in everything!

So when OLD BAY approached me and asked me to develop a recipe to kick off their #OldBayOurWay Instagram contest, obviously I was in.

I thought a lot about what I could make with OLD BAY this time. I wanted something that I could make ahead and that would travel well. We not only have a lot of fun outdoor events planned, we're road-tripping it to a family wedding this year and clearly we needed to bring a snack to share. Can you believe some of my in-laws claim not to know what OLD BAY is? They might be from NYC but they are going to learn this year!

I love any sort of party mix. I love the mix of textures and flavors from the add-ins and I especially love getting that one piece that is super loaded with flavor. What better flavor than OLD BAY? That's a trick question, obviously, there isn't one. It was hard to pick what to mix in but I went pretty classic. I've made OLD BAY peanuts before so they were an easy pick and as a nod to the Chesapeake Bay, I used oyster crackers vs cheesy crackers or bagel chips which ended up being a great choice; they are like crunchy pillows! Pretzels are always a welcome addition and I find the mini-twists are less salty than sticks so they are great in party mix.

Make this today and spice up a trip to the beach, a party, a picnic, a cook-out or even a road trip. It lasts about a week in an air-tight container. Just be sure it is 100% cool before you pack it up.

Take a minute, have some OLD BAY and enter their #OldBayOurWay Instagram contest. It's a summer-long local contest for OLD BAY fans in Baltimore and D.C. to showcase how they’re celebrating summer together with OLD BAY. To enter,  upload your favorite moments of summer with OLD BAY, using the hashtag #OldBayOurWay, for a chance to win a season’s supply of OLD BAY seasoning and swag.

Follow OLD BAY online:

Instagram: @oldbay_seasoning
Pinterest: @oldbayseasoning
Facebook: @oldbay
Twitter: @OLDBAYSeasoning



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