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The Last Supper

Last night, we lost our electricity in 97 degree weather. As we stared longingly at our air conditioner willing it to come back on, I asked my husband what he would eat for his last meal. Clearly, I was anticipating a bad outcome for the two of us. His response? ICE CREAM. No surprise there. It is what he most looking forward to on our pending vacation to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Not the beach, the relaxation, the seafood, the romance. The ice cream.

My last meal would consist of lobster tail with lots of butter, crab cakes, french fries, rice pudding and a nice glass of wine. I’m not messing around. This weekend, I made my very first batch of crab cakes. On a scale from 1-10 I would give them a 6.5. I think I could do better next time, but all in all they were quite good considering how stingy I was with the mayo. I served them over a salad of red leaf lettuce, kale, and arugula with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.

The recipe below makes about 8 crab cakes. For the first batch, I sautéed them for a minute or two and then baked for the remaining time. On the second batch, I only baked them. The first batch was probably better. Remember you can add a little scallion or chopped red pepper to the recipe below if you prefer. You can use panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or just substitute regular bread crumbs as I did since the pantry was out of panko. I skipped the remoulade for our first batch since I served that over salad and vinaigrette. But I did whip some up for the second batch and it was tangy and good – just like I like it. If you aren’t a fan of capers, just leave those out. Me, I like the capers.

Photo Credit: Cooking Light

Crab Cakes (Recipe from Cooking Light magazine)

Ingredients

• 2 Tbs finely chopped fresh chives

• 1 Tbs chopped flat leaf parsley

• 1.5 Tbs canola based mayonnaise

• 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind

• 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

• 1/4 tsp black pepper

• 1/8 tsp red pepper

• 1 lg egg

• 1/3 c panko

• 1 lb lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed

• 1 Tbs olive oil, divided

Remoulade

• 1/4 c canola based mayo

• 1 Tbs chopped shallots

• 1.5 Tbs capers, drained and chopped

• 2 tsp Creole mustard

• 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

• 1/4 tsp ground red pepper

• 1/8 tsp salt

Directions

1. To prepare crab cakes, combine first 8 ingredients. Add panko and crab, tossing gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. Fill a 1/3-cup dry measuring cup with crab mixture. Invert onto work surface; gently pat into a 3/4-inch-thick patty. Repeat procedure with remaining crab mixture, forming 8 cakes.

3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 crab cakes to pan; cook 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden. Carefully turn cakes; cook 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden and crab cakes are thoroughly heated. Remove cakes from pan; keep warm. Wipe pan dry with paper towels. Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 4 crab cakes.

4. To prepare rémoulade, combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Serve with crab cakes.

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Pickles 101

When it comes to food, I like strong flavors – hot, spicy, or sour. As I kid, I can remember eating bowls of olives and vinegary beet salad at my grandmother’s house. Today, I love greek olives, pickled vegetables, and everything lemon. 

In recent years, some of my friends have gotten into the canning/jarring trend and I’m very interested in trying it as well. Unfortunately, I’ve been far too busy and unfocused lately to take a class or even open the canning cookbook I bought months ago. But I did find something right up my alley – a recipe for quick, easy refrigerator pickles.

This weekend I got myself back to the Farmer’s Market in Rittenhouse after a two-week absence and purchased a bunch of veggies, berries, gluten free flatbread, and a pint of kirby cucumbers perfect for pickling.

This recipe is very easy, but it did the trick. Yesterday, we had pickles! Now if you are really interested in learning more about pickling, canning or jarring I suggest you consult some experts (I will do the same!). You can even take classes in Philadelphia with local foodie Marissa McClellan (FoodinJars.com). Check out the following food blogs:

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

  •  8-10 Kirby cucumbers
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tb salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Option flavors: fresh dill, jalapeno pepper, onions, etc. (I used jalapeno)

You can slice the cucumbers into small pieces or slices if you prefer, but since I used Kirby I kept them whole. Peel garlic clove and dice into small pieces.  In a large mason jar, mix water, salt, sugar, vinegar, pepper and peppercorns. Add your extra ingredients (dill, jalapeno).  Add cucumbers to the jar(s). Refrigerate for two days.

New Twist on a Strawberry Tradition: Sorbet

Variety and change were not popular words in my house growing up. My father in particular loathed these two things. He had two mandates for my brother and me: eat what I tell you is good and don’t grow up. Those were his golden rules. Unfortunately, he handled a lot of the grocery shopping due to my mother’s phobia of food related stores. As you can imagine, there was little room for requests. Want Golden Grahams instead of Sugar Pops (back before they were Corn Pops)? Nope. How about raspberry jam instead of generic grape jelly? Nice try. No. No. No.

When my dad bought something, he bought a lot of it. If he liked, by damn you will too! And you were expected to eat it until it was gone. Case in point – bologna. My brother and I were subjected to bologna sandwiches for years in grade school. I can still staring at that tower of bologna in the refrigerater with tears in my eyes and pain in my gut. I longed for the simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

But his obsession did lead to one family favorite – strawberry shortcake. We ate strawberry shortcake for every birthday until I was at least 25 when someone dared to introduce an ice cream cake onto the scene breaking my father’s heart forever. I love strawberries and still miss those strawberry shortcakes.

With strawberry season upon us, I decided to find a new use for the quart of strawberries in our house – Strawberry Sorbet. I was encouraged to make the sorbet when I heard my mother say that she was going to attempt sorbet making. I couldn’t let her beat me to the punch. It would be a disservice to this blog!

The sorbet was a big hit with my husband too. In fact, it disappeared on day two and I never got a second helping!

Strawberry Sorbet

Ingredients 

  • 1 quart ripe strawberry, stemmed and frozen
  • 5 tablespoons sugar (or more depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

Freeze strawberries for 2 hours or until hard. Place strawberries and sugar into a food processor and pulse machine on and off until fruit is broken up. Add water and continue processing until you have a smooth puree. Transfer to a container and freeze for 2 hours, or until firm enough to scoop. Stir every 30 minutes.

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