June 21, 2017

Top Drawer Crab Cakes


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


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

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

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


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
freshly ground black pepper
red pepper flakes

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


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


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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May 27, 2017

Spicy Kohl Slaw


2 medium-large bulbs kohlrabi, cut into matchsticks
1 baby cucumber, spiralized
1 baby yellow squash, spiralized
1 baby zucchini, spiralized
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons shichimi togarashi
sea salt


Place all ingredients in a medium bowl, toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 hour prior to serving.

My thoughts:
I guess technically this is more of a raw salad than a slaw (but what's the difference really? kohlrabi is in the cabbage family after all) but the name kohl slaw is too good not to use. I love kohlrabi so I was excited to see it in my produce box last week. I think it is so good raw so I thought I'd use it in some sort of salad. I was going to use my mandoline to make it into thin strips but it kept sticking on the blades so I chopped it up into matchsticks the best I could. I spiralized the rest of veggies with my decidedly not fancy spiralizer which made them not only pretty but a great size to suck up the vinegar and flavor from the shichimi togarashi while it marinates in the fridge. This is a wonderful salad to bring to a cookout or picnic because not only does it take like 10 minutes to make, it is full of flavor (thanks, 7-spice powder!), can be made ahead of time and is perfectly safe to sit outside in the heat (I know how people are about mayo-based salads even if I disagree with them) and is vegan and gluten-free.

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May 22, 2017

Pickle-Spiked Cheeseburgers


for the burger:
1 1/4 lb 90% lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped "Hamburger" dill pickle chips*
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons horseradish deli mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 slices Butterkäse cheese**
freshly ground black pepper.

to serve:
4 pretzel rolls
horseradish deli mustard
"Hamburger" dill pickle chips


In a medium bowl, mix together all burger ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Firmly form into 4 even patties. Set aside.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Cook the patties, flipping once, until cooked to desired doneness over medium heat. Drain, if needed, on a paper towel-lined plate. Place burgers on buns, top with additional mustard and pickles if desired. Serve immediately.

*find these pickle slices near other shelf-stable pickles on the grocery store shelf, these pickles give the burgers that classic burger taste so don't substitute fancy dill pickles or kosher dills.

**Find this German, smooth melting cheese at stores with a well-stocked cheese section or it is frequently available at Aldi. Gouda would make a good substitute in a pinch.

My thoughts:
I've been on sort of a burger kick lately as you may have noticed. I bought the ground beef hoping that we would get a chance to grill but we were in Washington all day yesterday visiting the amazing NMAAHC and came home too tired to cook and today it is rainy so no grilling for us! Luckily, I think they were still very good even without the benefits of charcoal. I love, love, love pickles and even though I make my own I always keep a jar of hamburger chips in my fridge. It is like $1 at Aldi for a vat and they are really what gives burgers that classic diner/fast food burger taste. These burgers are loaded with pickle flavor (and lots of chunks so you really have to a firm hand with the patties or they will crack) and just a hint of onion. Super savory, super delicious and super easy to throw together--I made these for our lunch in about 20 minutes start to finish. The pretzel roll held up well to the juicy burger and the flavor really complimented the vaguely German flavors of the sandwich. Luckily pretzel rolls are pretty easy to find these days! I remember having to make my own not too long ago and now even regular supermarkets have bags of them.

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May 15, 2017

Kimchi Burgers


for the burger:
1 lb 90% lean ground beef
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 tablespoon gochujang
2 tablespoons soy sauce

to serve:
4 brioche rolls
gochujang mayonnaise*
3/4 cup chopped kimchi

In a medium bowl, mix together all burger ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Form into 3 or 4 patties. Set aside.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Cook the patties, flipping once, until cooked to desired doneness over medium heat. Place on buns, top with mayo and kimchi. Serve immediately.

*I bought some at Target but you can make it yourself by mixing mayo and a small amount of gochujang together.
My thoughts:
Matt has been studying sign language for a while now and goes to a ton of events about ASL. I think the most exciting one he went to was a kimchi making class in ASL where he not only came home with a jar of homemade kimchi but had learned a few words of Korean sign language!

The kimchi was great on its own but we thought we'd make something fun incorporating it. Matt found gochujang mayo at Target (who knew?), we already had gochujang, sesame oil and Korean soy sauce in the fridge (if you don't, a quick trip the Korean or other well-stocked grocery store will get you all set) so burgers seemed to be the obvious choice. The burgers are not quite as hot (unless you use extra hot gochujang!) as one might think but they are very flavorful. A great change from the typical burger.

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