Monday, June 13, 2011

Maryland Crab Cakes

It's been a long time since I've cooked something American (or actually, photographed something while cooking American, because I had Jambalaya this week and BYOB recently too), so I finally decided to make crab cakes. I've been wanting to make these for ages, but thought I couldn't get crab meat here in Holland. But then it occured to me, that while they don't sell fresh crab meat at the supermarket, I could probably get it in can! So I did :)

I found an interesting recipe of Maryland crab cakes on Epicurious, which is a great foodie-website. They have a series of 80 dishes from all around the world, including 8 in the USA. One of them is crab cakes from Maryland. Traditionally, blue crabs are used, as they can be found in the Chesapeake Bay, but of course I couldn't get hold of those.

I also learned the difference between 'boardwalk' crab cakes and 'restaurant' crab cakes, the former being deep fried and often stuffed with various fillings. The latter is a more sophisticated, gourmet version and is generally served on a platter or open faced sandwich.

Now I don't know how traditional the crab cakes I made are, but here is the recipe (copied from Epicurious):

  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (preferably flat-leafed)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 2 pounds lump crab meat, picked over
  • 2 cups fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a bowl whisk together the butter, the eggs, the sour cream, the parsley, the lemon juice, the Worcestershire sauce, the paprika, the salt, and the cayenne and stir in the crab meat and the bread crumbs gently. Form 1/2-cup measures of the mixture into twelve 3/4-inch-thick cakes and transfer the crab cakes as they are formed to a baking sheet sprinkled with half the cornmeal. Sprinkle the crab cakes with the remaining cornmeal and chill them, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour or overnight.
In a large heavy skillet heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking and in it sauté the crab cakes in batches, turning them once, for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until they are golden, transferring them as they are cooked to paper towels to drain. Keep the crab cakes warm on another baking sheet in a 200°F. oven. Serve the crab cakes with the tarragon tartar sauce and the lemon wedges.

I apologize for being lazy and copying the article, but I thought I'd rather show you some photos of my preparations (and there's a great video on the website too, check it out!). I halved the recipe, by the way, and still got eight crab cakes out of it.

The mixture

Fried in my special America frying pan (gift from Larissa, of course, IKEA!)

Frying the crab cakes

Eight crab cakes, and homemade Roseval potato fries

Served with lemon wedges (but missing the tartar sauce)

I did like this recipe, however, the crab cakes tasted a bit bland. I would therefore recommend additional seasoning or maybe a chopped spring onion as a filler. 

And lastly, I hope to be tasting the 'real thing' in Maryland some time soon, hopefully next year! I would love to visit Maryland, it's on top of my wanting-to-visit states!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bar Harbor Mix Cookies (Cranberry & Chocolate)

Long time, no cookin'!

Haven't gotten around to do much cooking lately, but since I have the time now, I figured I start again with some cookies. I was craving cookies earlier today, but didn't have any butter at home. After a bit of googling, I found several recipes using vegetable oil instead of butter, so I figured I'd give it a try. And..I've also used a secret ingredient of mine, yoghurt! It adds a little bit of a tangy flavor without making it sour.

For these cookies I've used Back to Nature Bar Harbor Mix, which I bought in New York a few weeks ago.

It's a great mix of cranberries, vanilla almonds and dark chocolate coated almonds. I actually wanted to make chocolate chip cookies, but didn't have those at home, so this seemed like a good alternative. Even better maybe!

Here's the recipe:


2 eggs
2,5 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons yoghurt
Few tablespoons of oatmeal
1 1/2 cups of Bar Harbor mix, or a mixture of cranberries, almonds and chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius (375 F)

Beat the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl and mix with a fork or electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the vegetable oil and vanilla and mix in thoroughly. Add the flour, baking powder, oatmeal and salt and mix at low speed.

Stir in the Bar Harbor mix, drip the yoghurt over the dough and mix.

Make little drops of dough using a spoon on a baking tray lined with foil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

The cookies will be a lot bigger than before and are crispy on the outside, but really fluffy on the inside.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Savory Southern Snack: Hush Puppies

I've made them before but that was before this blog existed. So last weekend on 31st December 2010, when all of Holland was frying our traditional 'oil balls', I was in for a more savory Souther snack: Hush Puppies.

Now as you may know, I don't really use traditional recipes or measure anything. I just cook by my gut-feeling. But if I were to give measurements, I would say this is the recipe to stick to:

1 cup white flour
1 cup cornmeal (or polenta)
2 eggs, beaten
1 onion, diced
Some salt, pepper, paprika (powder), onion powder and garlic powder
A bottle of sunflower oil for frying

Heat the sunflower oil in a small pot. Be careful if you are not using a deep frying pan. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Once oil is hot enough (you can test this by dropping a small piece of bread into the oil; if the oil starts bubbling it is ready) spoon little drops of the batter into the oil. You can use a tablespoon for larger hush puppies or a teaspoon for smaller drops.

When the hush puppies are golden brown, remove them from the pot with a spoon and let rest on a plate with kitchen towel to absorb the grease. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper.

Best served when hot.

A Very Yummy Thanksgiving

I know, I know. Thanksgiving was in November, not January. On Thanksgiving I cooked myself a lovely meal, but I just never got around to writing it down in this blog. Hence, I hereby present: The belated very yummy Thanksgiving meal and blog!

In anticipation of Thanksgiving I assigned my students (the cute 12 year olds) the task to write a report on the American celebration. As their English is still insufficient, most of them had directly copied the information from Wikipedia (which I was fine with, by the way, I did not expect them to be able to write a full report after three months of English), but some reports were very interesting (bits about pilgrims, turkey and even Black Friday) and full of nice imagery of the holiday.

For my own Thanksgiving dinner I prepared turkey breast with cranberry sauce, caramelised onions, chestnut and orange stuffing and mashed potatoes.

It was very yummy indeed!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cajun fried chicken with zucchini fritters, baked potato and salsa

This morning I realised I still had some Cajun rub left from Sainsbury's supermarket which I bought in Cambridge. I'd actually never used it.

So I decided that for this week's American meal I was going to make Cajun chicken. While I was browsing through cookbooks for ideas I realised I could make my own fried chicken, which I love. Ok, it's not super healthy, but it's fun to make. I found a recipe by Jamie Oliver that used a baked potato (or baked sweet potato rather, but I couldn't find any at my grocery store) with cajun alligator meat and salsa. Seeing as I don't live in Louisiana and don't exactly have alligators swimming in my next door swamp, I decided to go for the fried chicken.

The salsa asked for tomatoes, spring onion and green tomatoes, but we don't have those here either (unfortunately I will never be able to make fried green tomatoes then), so I chopped up some zucchini instead. Then I figured, well, why don't I make some zucchini fritters as well! Once in North Carolina, I tasted the most amazing zucchini fritters at the Olive Tree (no website unfortunately) in Winston Salem.

For the fried chicken and zucchini fritters I mixed some Cajun rub with some flour and dipped the meat and veggies in a beated egg mixture first and then in the flour-spice mixture. I baked the potato in the oven and I chopped up the other veggies for the salsa (and a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar go a long way). I deepfried (be careful!) the meat and veggies and it turned out great! I also made a dip of yoghurt with garlic powder to go with the fritters.

So all in all, it was a bit of Jamie, a bit of me, and a lot of yumminess!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Meatloaf, baked potatoes and happiness at home

I'm home for the weekend. Home as in at my moms. That's my real home, where I feel most comfortable and where true happiness can be found. I have so many siblings and I love being around them. I have one real sister (22), one real brother (19), one stepbrother (15) and one stepsister (13). I also have a 5 year old half-sister but she lives at my dads. And, of course, I have the best mom and stepdad.

Today was a typical Saturday at home. Woke up around 10, stayed in PJs until 1. Did some laundry, did some homework checking (still a teacher, even on weekends) and did some major relaxing.

Listening to my brother playing the piano and guitar is always a treat and instantly makes me feel at home. Last year he was travelling through Australia and I immensely missed his music.

(don't mind his foul language at the end of the second video, lol)

I went into town with my mom, which is always a treat. Again and again, she tries to give me all sorts of stuff. Clothes, kitchenware, magazines... Today's score was a grey scarf from HEMA, a fake bouquet of roses and some toiletries. She also gave me lots of her old clothes that she doesn't wear any more, such as knitted cardigans which serve perfectly as work-outfits.

We also love to go to the grocery store together. Today being Saturday, I told her I had to cook something American.
So I took the American cookbook my mom owns (which is an amazing cookbook!) and browsed through it.

My mom suggested meat loaf. Fine by me. I cooked it a few weeks ago with peas in it and mashed potatoes on the side, but decided to make a simpler version for today. Regular meat loaf with baked potatoes with sour cream, chives and bacon bits, and a salad with homemade croutons. As I couldn't really find a recipe in the cookbook, I decided to make up my own version. And it worked perfectly. It was delicious!

Here's the recipe for 8 people (2 meatloafs)...yes told you we are a big family:


1500 gr. ground beef
3 eggs
100 gr. breadcrumbs
1 onion
salt, pepper, garlic powder

(and I think the baked potatoes and salad are pretty much self-explanatory)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (Celcius). Chop the onion and sautee until goldenbrown. Mix the ground beef, eggs, onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a big bowl and knead with your hands (watch out: the beef is cold, whilst the onion can be quite hot = interesting effect).

Add the breadcrumbs and knead until you have a solid mixture. Place the meat mixture into two greased cake tins and add some breadcrumbs on the top. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour.

My family loved it :-)      
(although they do think that this blog is the ultimate cheesefest..which I have to admit is true)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

It's 9/11/2010. Nine years after the disastrous fall of the Twin Towers, I have finally taken up the courage to watch a documentary. I've chosen to watch the documentary 'the 102 minutes that changed America', which only uses footage from locals on camcorders or cell phones. Of course I'd seen the live footage of the planes crashing into the buildings before, as well as the collapsing towers. I've seen the main shots.

But never have I fully realized the enormous impact on the New Yorkers and the aftermath in NYC. The smoke rushing through the streets after the buildings have collapsed, while people are trying to get away from it by running up north. This is the stuff you see in movies and computer games. And then, when everybody has been evacuated: The white debris changing the always-crowding-on-the-streets-city into an eerie ghosttown.

I found the documentary highly impressive and for the first time really saw the disaster through the eyes of New Yorkers. I could feel their panic, their fear, their disbelief. I will be traveling to New York next summer and I am most certainly planning to visit Ground Zero and show my dedication to the people who have lost friends or family members, or those who have died themselves.

In order to commemorate the events on 9/11/2001 I've decided to cook a New York meal, albeit simple. It's nothing to brag about from a culinary point of view, and I won't add any recipes, as these are nothing more than a quick bite into a memorial service. However, I will show you some photos of the things I made and consumed, whilst watching the impressive documentary.

Bagels with Salmon and Cream Cheese

Bagels were introduced to America by the many Jewish immigrants. These boiled breadrolls with a donut-like hole in the middle quickly became popular in New York City, and are thus known as typical NY food. Salmon and creamcheese on a bagel is a classic combo.

Twin Tower Brownies