Saturday, May 18, 2019

Crab Cakes!

I've been waiting a year now for fresh crab meat.

We just polished off a few bowls of crab soup

and now I'm ready for crab cakes.

I bought a pound of crab meat and I used half of it for the soup
and I'm using the other half for my crab cakes.

With crab cakes, you want to taste crab.
So go light on the filling.
And it's best to use lump crab meat.  You want big lumps of crab in there.
Also, go easy on the mixing.  Use a gentle hand so as not to break up the crab meat.

Rosie's Crab Cakes Version 3.0
Makes 6 cakes

1 egg, beaten
juice of half a lemon
2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 TB minced celery
1 TB minced red pepper
10 saltines, crushed
8 oz. crab meat, picked over

Mix together first seven ingredients, then gently add in crab meat.
Lightly tamp into molds to form patties.
Refrigerate for at least an hour.

I didn't bother to bread these crab cakes before sautéeing, but you're certainly welcome to do so.  Mix up a combination of crushed Ritz, saltines, and panko breadcrumbs and coat the patties, pressing on each side.

In a medium skillet over medium high heat, heat unsalted butter until sizzling.  Add in 2 or 3 crab patties.  You don't want to crowd the pan.  Sauté on each side 2 minutes, or until golden.

For the step-by-steps:
Gently mix ingredients.

Lightly tamp into molds.

Neaten up the edges.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.

And sauté in butter.

Golden brown goodness.

In the case of crab cakes, less is more.
Less filling.  More crab.

If you like, add a squeeze of lemon.
For a nice dip, try a swirl of mayo and sriracha.
Fresh dill is a nice touch.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Rosie Makes Crab Soup.

Normally, I don't think of May as being "soup weather," but goshgolly, it's cold.  And by "cold" I mean it's in the 60s here.  So I want soup.  In particular, I want a crab soup.

Now here's the thing about crab soup.  Restaurants will have it on the menu during the winter.  And during the winter, crab is not in season.  And I don't want out-of-season crab.  When crab is in season, it's generally hot outside and I'm not in the mood for soup when it's hot.  'tis a quandary, 'tis.  Today, however, I have the best of both worlds - I have cold weather (Yeah, I know.  Cold is relative.) and crabs are in season.  To quote noted food writer, Clementine Paddleford, "The day has the color and the sound of winter.  Thoughts turn to chowder... chowder breathes reassurance.  It steams consolation."
 Yes.  I'll be having crab soup today.

I bought a pound of crab meat at Billy's Seafood and I'm using half of it for the soup and half for crab cakes.  Don't want any leftovers.

Rosie's Crab Soup
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
1/3 cup shrimp stock
1/2 cup vegetable stock 
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 pound crab meat, picked
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
chopped chives/parsley/red sweet bell pepper

In a medium sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat.  Add the celery and onion and cook, stirring, for about a minute.  Add the other tablespoon of butter and melt, then add in the flour, stirring and cooking another minute, to get the raw taste out of the flour.  Turn heat to low. Slowly pour in the shrimp stock, stirring, to let thicken.  Then stir in the vegetable stock, skim milk, and cream.  Stir and cook until mixture thickens.  Pour in the sherry.  Add in the crab meat and heat through.  Season to taste.  Ladle into bowls and top with chives, parsley, and chopped red pepper.  Add a few oyster crackers, if desired.

For the how-to's:
Finely chop the celery, onion, and red bell pepper.

Melt a tablespoon of butter and cook the celery and onion.

Add in the remaining butter, melt, then sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring.

Cook the flour to remove the raw taste.

Slowly add in some homemade shrimp stock.
I always have shrimp stock in the freezer.
We buy shrimp in bulk, de-head 'em, shell 'em, size 'em, then freeze 'em.
Take the shells (and heads if you're not squeamish), sauté in some oil over medium heat, add in a bunch of aromatics - onions, carrots, celery, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves - add water to cover, some salt, and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Drain off liquid, discard solids, and freeze the stock in pint containers.

If you don't have shrimp stock, just add more of the vegetable stock.  I happen to like the extra flavor boost that comes from using shrimp stock.

Let it thicken up.
Add in the vegetable stock, stirring over low heat.

Add in the skim milk, or whatever milk you have.  
I always have skim milk and cream on hand, so that's what I use, but you could use 1%, 2%, or whole.
Add in the cream for the richness.
Stir in the sherry for the goodness.

When you have the base as thick as you want it, add in the picked-over crab meat and heat through.
Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Now here's a Rosie Tip for you in case you want your base a bit thicker:  Use beurre manié.  That means "kneaded butter."  Simply rub equal amounts of flour and butter together to form a paste, say 2 tablespoons of each.  When the flour is fully incorporated into the butter, add a small ball of the beurre manié (maybe 1/2 tablespoon at a time) to your soup.  Stir over low heat and let the beurre manié melt and thicken the soup.  If it needs more thickening (It's a matter of personal preference.) add in more of the beurre manié.  Using beurre manié allows the butter to melt directly into the soup, evenly dispersing the flour particles.  If you just sprinkled flour into the soup, you'd get clumps and one never wants clumps.  This way, you get a lovely velvety texture with no clumps.  Any leftover beurre manié can be frozen for later use.

Ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley and chives and red pepper.
And I like the crunch of oyster crackers.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Rosie Makes Strawberry Ice Cream.

Strawberry ice cream.
Love it!

This might be the easiest ice cream ever.
No eggs are involved.  There's no cooking.  No custard.
It's just cream and milk.  Some sugar.  Vanilla.  And strawberries.  And an ice cream maker.

And if you just happened to pick a bunch of strawberries over at Malco's Point Harbor Pick Your Own Strawberry Farm, even better!  252-491-8266 in case you want to go.  135 James Griggs Road in Point Harbor, NC.  Or just go get 'em at Food Lion and be done with it. 

Strawberry Ice Cream
2 cups chopped strawberries
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
6 oz. skim milk
2 oz. heavy cream
1 TB vanilla
pinch kosher salt

Rosie Note:   In place of the 6 oz. skim and 2 oz. heavy cream, you could use 8 oz. whole milk.  I never have whole milk on hand, but I always have skim and cream, so I substitute, erring on the side of fat.  (Technically, the correct substitution would be 7 oz. skim and 1 oz. cream.  Call me a rebel.)

Coarsely chop up strawberries and toss with 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl.  Let sit for 15 or so minutes so the strawberries release their juices.

In a blender or processor, pulse the strawberries a few times.  Pour into large bowl and add remaining sugar, heavy cream, skim milk, vanilla, and salt.

Pour mixture into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions, occasionally scraping down sides with a spatula.  Takes about 30 minutes.

If you like soft ice cream, serve immediately.  
If there's any left, freeze it.

Toss the coarsely chopped strawberries with sugar and let sit for a while.

Pulse/pulse in a processor/blender.

Add rest of sugar.

Stir in cream and milk and vanilla.
And pour into the ice cream maker.

Serve with more strawberries.

Or...  you can drizzle some honey over top and sprinkle on some grape nuts.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Rosie Makes Some Of The Best Granola/Trail Mix Squares

 It's one of my favorite things to eat.

I've found that as I've      aged      matured, I really can't eat full meals anymore.  They're just too much.  But, I can snack, nibble, and nosh all day long.  Enter granola.  It's perfect for snacking.  It's chewy.  It's crunchy.  It's nutty.  It's ... perfect. 

Mr. Hawthorne used to be in charge of the granola.  He'd see me eating handfuls of Quaker Oats granola right out of the box and said, "I can make that.  And I can make it better."  And he did.

Rosie, not to be culinarily deposed, had to get on the granola bandwagon too.
And so, I've come up with an excellent granola recipe which is highly adaptable to one's own tastes and proclivities.  I'm giving you the basic guidelines here, and you can try it out for yourself my way first, then go out on your own, adding here and there to suit yourself.  This is a recipe that can be played with.  Have fun!

Rosie's Granola
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups coconut
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 cups quick cooking oatmeal

Combine all ingredients very well.

1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
3 TB molasses
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 TB vanilla
1 tsp kosher salt

In a small sauce pan, combine corn syrup, honey, and molasses.  Bring to a simmer and cook about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in coconut oil, vanilla, and salt.  Let cool a bit.

Slowly pour syrup into dry ingredients, stirring to coat evenly.  Take your time here, because you want that syrup distributed throughout the oats and nuts.

Line a 10 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper and heat oven to 325°.
Press granola mixture evenly into pan.
 I use an offset spatula to press around the corners, then I cover the mixture with plastic wrap and use a mini rolling pin up and down and back and forth to press and even out the mixture.

Bake in a 325° oven for 35-40 minutes total.  Every 10 minutes or so, rotate the pan and press down the granola mixture with your rolling pin.
When it's golden, remove from oven and let cool a bit.  Lift parchment and granola out of pan and slice into bars.

Now, for the step-by-steps, then I'll offer some suggestions and substitutions.

 In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients.

 Slowly, pour in simmered syrup, stirring constantly.

 Keep stirring and mixing.

 Pour onto a parchment lined 10 x 13-inch baking pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and press out evenly with a mini rolling pin.
This way and...
that way...

Take an offset spatula and neaten up those edges.

And bake.
Every 10 minutes, rotate the pan and roll the granola to press it down.

Let cool a bit.  Then invert and slice.

Let cool completely.

Rosie's Suggestions and Substitutions
This recipe is not etched in stone.
As for the nuts, use what you like.
Peanuts are a good choice, as are honey-roasted peanuts, which I threw in one time just because I had them.  Sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds are a great addition too.
One time I even threw in a handful of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal

and Youngest Hawthorne
recognized it and like it!

As for the nuts I use, I don't bother chopping them.  I generally use them whole, but sometimes I put them in a bag and run a rolling pin over top to lightly crumble.  It's up to you.
I do not use raisins, although I do use dried cranberries.  I think raisins have a tendency to take on a "burned" flavor, so I avoid them.  If you think of anything else you might want to add, say your preference of nuts or even dates (Go Medjool!  Not dried.), go right ahead.  The recipe is capable of taking on another cup of nutty, fruity goodness. 

  Maybe next time
 I'll throw in some Grape Nuts!