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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Foodbuzz Giveaways and Contests

One of the things I love about Foodbuzz is all of the contests and giveaways.  Jason from Ancient Fire Wines and I are having our own contest right now for those who subscribe to CSA's or shop at their local farmer's market.  Remember to post your comments for that contest.  Here's the loot I got from our CSA and at our farmer's market today:

And, here's the loot we got from a walk around our yard:

I'm thinking a sweet corn risotto from Cat Cora's new cookbook for the corn.  Scott Duncan's (The Inexpensive Eater) roasted beets with the beets.  A salad with the sunflower shoots and snap peas.  More of the eggplant and tomato salad with eggplant and tomatoes.  (Stay tuned for that posting - it was fantastic!)  Maybe some applesauce with the apples.  An herb salad with the basil and some goodies from our herb garden - chives and chive blossoms, tarragon, parsley...  On top of all of that, I have 10 pounds of blueberries delivered from Michigan early this week.  There's a blueberry pie post and a blueberry crumble post calling my name...

So what are some of the contests going on on Foodbuzz?

Adventures in the Pioneer Valley is giving away some gift cards to CSN.  Here's the URL:

Authentic Suburban Gourmet is having a crostini contest.  I've entered my daughter-in-law's garlic shrimp crostini.  Here's the link to that:

And, the link to the contest:

Baking Serendipity is also giving away a gift card from CSN but she's doing a muffin contest to do so. 

I've entered the Lemon Lavender Blueberry Muffins here.

Here's the link to the muffin contest:


Crab Cakes Benedict with Remoulade Hollandaise Sauce

These crab cakes benedict were served as the entree for our Mardi Gras party as part of Foodbuzz' 24x24.  They're ever so much better than the plain pipe rack eggs benedict!  And, I especially love the combination of the remoulade sauce and the hollandaise sauce.  I really need to find a couple of other uses for it so I've got an excuse to make more!

Crab Cakes Benedict

So, how to put them together...  Toast English muffin halves, top each with a warm crab cake,

then a poached egg,

then some remoulade/hollandaise sauce. 

If it's just us, I poach my eggs in a water bath in a skillet.  It's somehow more elegant.  But, for a crowd, I'm not going to try that!  So, I used my trusty egg cooker. 

I kept the first batch warm and just kept poaching.  The yolks were a little more cooked than I'd have liked but they were fine for the party.

I've blogged about these crab cakes before but long before the camera became a part of my blogging.  Not only that but these were the entree for the Mardi Gras party.  So, I'd feel a bit strange just sending you to an old blog.  Ergo, a repeat. 

One of our guests was born and raised in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  He proclaimed these the best crab cakes he'd ever eaten.  Wow!  Now, that's a compliment.  As much as I really don't like repeating dishes too often, I still think I could eat these once a week.  They're that good.

Harry Caray's Crab Cakes

1/4 c finely diced red onion
2 T thinly sliced scallions
3/4 c panko
1/2 c heavy cream
1 T dijon mustard
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t Tabasco
1 t Old Bay seasoning
1/2 t garlic powder
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 T lemon juice
1 1/2 lbs crab meat
1/2 c flour
olive oil or a mixture of butter and olive oil

Mix the ingredients through the crab meat in a large mixing bowl.  I start with the onions and scallions. 

Use a light hand as they're much better if they're not dense. 

Interestingly enough, all the recipes seem to call for lump crab meat.  I've found the claw meat more flavorful in these.  Also, the original recipe calls for chopped red bell pepper.  I think that detracts from the flavor, so I leave it out. I use a 1/3 c measure to scoop out the right amount for each crab cake.

Get the olive oil to the shimmering point and VERY carefully toss in a couple of droplets of water to make sure it's hot enough.  I say VERY because you don't want to get burned by the popping!  Form a crab cake and lightly dust it with flour.  Don't crowd the crab cakes in the pan or you'll have a tough time flipping them. 

This is too crowded - I messed one up when flipping and sadly had to use it as my test crab cake.  Ah, come on, you believe that, don't you?

Once the first side is nicely browned, flip the crab cakes and continue to brown them.  You may have to add more olive oil.  The original recipe called for browning these for a couple of minutes then baking them.  Because I've switched to olive oil, they're not browning as quickly.  And, I don't like the idea of getting yet another pan dirty.  So, I just do them totally in the skillet.

It looks like Stacy and I failed miserably in the photo department for the two sauces that were combined.  Maybe I should make some more just to take photos?  No, there's already too much from the CSA basket to justify making sauce...  Darn.  I'd love to hear your ideas for using this combined sauce.

Harry Caray's Remoulade Sauce

1 c Hellman's Olive Oil mayonnaise
2 T capers (chopped if they're larger)
2 T very finely diced red onion
2 T Dijon mustard
1/4 t Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 t paprika
1 t Worcestershire
1/4 t Tabasco
1/2 t lemon juice

Mix and serve.  For the crab cakes benedict, I mixed the remoulade above with a double batch of Mom's Blender Hollandaise.  This is the easiest hollandaise sauce to make.  It doesn't separate.  You can make it ahead and warm it up before serving.  It just plain works.

Mom's Blender Hollandaise

3 egg yolks
1 T lemon juice
1/4 t salt
1/2 c hot melted butter

In a blender, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice and salt.  Then, with the lid partially removed, pour the butter in in a steady stream.  To warm up before serving, place in a bowl in a pan of warm water or use a double boiler. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Your Best CSA/Farm Market Menu Contest

Kate’s Kitchen ( and Ancient Fire ( are teaming up to create some buzz for CSA/Farm Market inspired menus. There are so many fresh ingredients the possibilities are limitless!

 For the next week we are asking for visitors to submit comments to this post on both blogs with a menu inspired by selections found in their CSA share or purchased at a local farm market. Menus can be for any meal of the day and should include the name and ingredients of each of the dishes being prepared. The majority of the ingredients used must come from the CSA/Farm Market, but staple items from the pantry and fridge are allowed; use your own judgment as to the “staple” nature of items used. Detailed preparation steps are not required for entry. Make sure you also tell us why you love a certain ingredient or what your goals were for combining the flavors, and of course anything else that excites you about fresh, local food.

The prize for the lucky winners will be a feature in each of the host’s blog one day the following week. The hosts will pick multiple winners randomly from all the entries we accept (see the rules above) and will contact winners for more information. Take pictures of anything applicable. If you win and you can get us photos we’ll post them. If you have complete recipes available we will also consider including those or link to your site where they are posted.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fruit Salad with Hurricane Dressing and Ginger Muffins

How many of you have a hurricane glass from Pat O'Brien's lurking in the back of your glassware cabinet?  Me too.  Two of them.  My first trip to New Orleans was during my sophomore year at IU.  Four of us piled in a Camaro and drove down to see what Mardi Gras was all about.  One of the guys had a friend who was from New Orleans.  Her parents were kind enough to let a whole herd of college kids crash at their house.  There were kids sleeping on about every square inch of floor in their home.  I'm not sure exactly how the bathrooms survived.  That's when I got my first hurricane glass.  From Pat O'Briens. During Mardi Gras.  Fortunately, my mother didn't find out about that trip for, oh, about 30 years.  Aren't memories like that great? 

For the fruit salad, I tried to recreate the flavor of the Hurricane without knocking everyone flat with the rum...  I wanted the ginger muffins to be a nice addition without detracting from the star of that course - the fruit salad. 

Fruit Salad with Hurricane Dressing


Fruit salad:
1 pineapple cut in 1/2" chunks
Fresh blueberries

Fresh strawberries, cored and halved (quartered if they're big)

Dressing Ingredients:
dark rum
orange juice
pineapple juice
Rose's lime juice
dash of grenadine


Dice the pineapple.  Wash, core and dice the strawberries.  Wash the blueberries.  You'll want about equal amounts of each.  Keep them in separate containers until you're ready to toss the salad.

Mix the dressing to taste.  I wound up with about a half cup of dressing to six cups of fruit.  First, I poured a couple of tablespoons of Myers Dark rum into a measuring cup.  Then, I added a couple of tablespoons of orange juice concentrate and about three tablespoons of pineapple juice.  At most I added a tablespoon of the Rose's lime juice.  It's amazing how that took the bite out of the dressing.  Then, just a dash of grenadine.  If you want to leave the rum out, I don't see why that wouldn't work. 

Ginger Muffins

I've talked before about making Sommer's wonderful ginger mulberry muffins.  They were so moist and flavorful that I thought they'd make a wonderful side to the fruit salad.  I left our the mulberries and used more than the amount of crystallized ginger called for in the recipe.  I just dumped a huge handful in - probably 2/3 cup.  Sommer says she's made these with other fillers and they were still really good.  I can imagine lots that'd be good.  Lemon/blueberry (although these lemon/blueberry muffins are still my favorites,) apple/cinnamon, strawberry/rhubarb...  Maybe even something savory like a yellow squash?  Hmmm, an idea to try!

1 c whole wheat flour

1 c all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 t ground ginger

1/2 c unsalted butter, melted

1/2 c sugar

1/4 c honey

1 large egg

1 c plain yogurt

2/3 c crystallized ginger (I left it in the pieces which were about 1/4")


Preheat oven to 350. Mix the dry ingredients together (the first 6.)

Then, mix the wet ingredients together (everything but the ginger.)

Carefully fold in the ginger.

Drop into mini-muffins tins and bake for 12-18 minutes.

The first time I made these (with the mulberries) I overbaked them. This time, I lowered the temp and checked them every couple of minutes after 8. They were perfect at about 15 minutes.

adapted from: A Spicy Perspective (

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Black Brandywine Tomato

I'm interrupting our regularly scheduled programming (the Mardi Gras party for 24x24) to show you an incredible tomato.  It's called a Black Brandywine

I started to fix myself some cottage cheese and tomato for lunch and stopped when I picked up this tomato.  Plopped it into the cottage cheese and took some photos.  Believe you me, this tomato tastes every bit as good as it looks.  To my way of thinking, it's the perfect tomato. 

Here's the story.  Back in about 1999, I bought one of these guys at a local garden center.  Planted it in the garden.  I was in the old house then and had a HUGE garden. 

The plant produced and produced and produced.  Now, back then I also had a dog by the name of Sallie.  She was part border collie and part Nervous Nellie.  I got her when some clients captured her in the midst of a very busy intersection downtown.  They thought she looked like my Maggie dog.  She kinda did in that they both were black with white vests.  Well, anyway, Sallie loved tomatoes.  No, that's not enough emphasis.  She LOVED tomatoes.  It was always a race to see who'd get them first. I'd think I'd leave one on the vine just one more day and then I'd wish I'd picked it earlier because herself would be stretched out in the middle of the backyard chewing on my tomato.  So, I had tomato seeds ALL over the back yard. 

The next year, I went back to get another Black Brandywine.  Bill said he was really sorry but they just didn't sell so he didn't grow any.  I was beyond bummed.  Then, in the middle of one of the flower beds, there it was - a volunteer.  From then on, I made sure to scatter seeds and hope for volunteers. 

Sallie died of a stroke Feb 16, 2004.  She was only 10.  I missed her terribly and missed her helping seed my yard.  Time marched on and there weren't any more volunteers.  I met Connie and a few years later he sold his house and I sold my house and we moved in here.  I still tried to find the elusive Black Brandywine.  Finally, eureka, he found one advertised in a magazine last year.  He ordered it.  Talk about nirvana.  The first one that was ripe was an incredible treat.  I remember standing in the back yard eating it straight from the vine.  Wonderful. 

This year, once again, we couldn't find the plants.  But, we got lucky and had a volunteer come up.  So, here's the second Black Brandywine of the season.  You guessed it.  The first never made it into the house! 

Tomato Aspic, Avocado Mousse and Seafood

This was the salad course for our New Orleans 24x24 party.  I came up with it based on two dishes we've had - one a salad with tomato aspic, avocados and creamy italian dressing.  The other was a seafood cocktail - served in a martini glass.  Many thanks to Kathyvegas for her tomato aspic posting!  The avocado mousse is from

Tomato Aspic


2 c tomato juice

1 packet unflavored gelatin

1/2 T sugar

1/2 t salt

1/2 T wine vinegar

1 1/2 T lemon juice

1/2 T Worcestershire sauce

few dashes hot pepper sauce

Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 c of the tomato juice. Set it aside to soften.

Heat the other ingredients over medium heat to a boil.

Add the gelatin mixture and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Pour into a mold or cups.
Refrigerate to set. This will take a couple of hours.  For this dish, I poured about 1/3 c each into martini glasses.

(from kathyvegas via
Once the aspic was set, I was able to add the avocado mousse.

Avocado Mousse:

2 firm-ripe avocados

1 T lemon juice

1 500 mg vitamin C tablet, crushed

1/2 t salt

1 1/4 t gelatin

3 T whole milk

1/3 c chilled heavy cream


Pour the milk into a very small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin on top. Allow it to sit for a couple of minutes to soften. Peel and seed the avocados. Place them in a food processor with the lemon juice, Vitamin C and salt. Process until smooth.

Heat the milk on low, stirring occasionally until the gelatin dissolves. Pour slowly into the processor while it is running. Once the milk is incorporated, stop. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Carefully fold the avocado puree into the whipped cream.

For this dish, I spooned a couple of tablespoons of the mousse into each of the martini glasses - on top of the tomato aspic.

Then, I smoothed the mousse and refrigerated the glasses.

adapted from

Crab and Shrimp Salad


1 c crabmeat
1 c diced shrimp


1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c lime juice

1 t cumin
1 t honey
1/4 t crushed garlic

Mix the dressing.  Add or subtract seasoning to taste.  Just before serving toss with the shrimp and crabmeat.

Top the aspic and mousse with the seafood salad.  We served this with Prosecco.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bloody Marys with a KICK, Savory S'mores and Salami Rolls

All of my posts this week will be the recipes from the New Orleans brunch we did to benefit the Gulf Recovery via Foodbuzz's 24x24 project.  A summary of the party is the post for July 25th.

We're starting today with the Bloody Marys and appetizers we served on our screened porch. 

Ok, so while I'm showing off the table, I just have to show you the absolutely gorgeous hosta right across the way.  Every time we walk out there, we comment on how lovely they are!

Bloody Marys
V-8 juice or tomato juice
St. Elmo's shrimp cocktail sauce
Worcestershire sauce
lime juice
celery salt
freshly ground pepper
homemade pepper vodka (recipe follows)

skewers with: cornichons, cocktail olives and almond stuffed olives

Directions:  This is essentially a season to taste exercise.  I have friends who swear by pickle juice in their Bloody Marys (yes, Milt, I'm talking about you.)  Others, like Donna, have special recipes for the seasonings.  She's got hers posted inside one of the cabinet doors in their rv.  It's really good stuff.  But I remember the Bloody Marys we used to have at the beach in Florida.  These are very similar.  We loved the kick the St. Elmo's shrimp cocktail sauce gave the drinks.  It was enhanced by the pepper vodka.





Homemade Pepper Vodka

The inspiration for this came from a cookbook called The Martha's Vineyard Table by Jessica B. Harris. I'd tried making pepper vodka by dumping about 1/4 c of freshly grated black pepper, a handful of crushed red pepper and a jalapeno into a 5th of vodka. It was the color of mud and even when it was poured through a coffee filter, wasn't a terribly wonderful concoction. Shortly thereafter, we traipsed to the Cape to see the kids and I bought the aforementioned cookbook. Voila!  Just a note:  The colors have faded since I made the vodka about three months ago.  If you're going to use this as a showpiece for a party, make it a couple of weeks ahead to allow time for the flavors to blend but keep the colors from fading.

fifth of vodka

green bell pepper

yellow bell pepper

orange bell pepper

red bell pepper

jalapeno pepper


Remove the cap and the plastic pourer from the bottle of vodka. Core the peppers. Cut them in rings about 1/4" wide. Make one cut in each ring. Feed the peppers into the bottle one color at a time. Finish with the jalapeno. Cap the bottle back up and allow the vodka to steep for a couple of weeks prior to using it. It will get stronger as time goes on, but we enjoy the colors so much that we just leave the peppers in there.

adapted from:  The Martha's Vineyard Table by Jessica B. Harris

Savory S'mores

While the kids were here we did a culinary tour of Indy.  As usual, I had a lapful of cooking magazines.  One of them was the most recent Everyday by Rachael Ray.  It was the grilling issue.  Perfect.  All I remember seeing is a mozzarella ball toasted like a marshmallow.  Brilliant.  An adult s'more.  Not that being an adult has EVER stopped me from eating a kid food - don't be silly, a lot of them are far too good to ignore. But, toasted mozzarella, olive tapenade and crackers.  Sign me up. 

mozzarella balls - 1" diameter

olive tapenade

crackers (we used Triscuits the first time and rosemary crackers the second)

thin skewers


Skewer a mozzarella ball on the end of a skewer. Toast it over an open flame until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Don't cook it too long or the cheese will ooooooze off the skewer and into your fire and create what we call a mell of a hess. Serve on a cracker schmeared with olive tapenade. You can buy the bottled stuff or make homemade using the following recipe.

from Everyday with Rachael Ray

Olive Tapenade

This tapenade serves as the base for The Olives tart. The tart is one of the best things I've ever eaten. When I first met Connie, I fixed him pissaladiere. He loved the combination of caramelized onions, anchovies, kalamata olives and romano cheese. This tart kicks it up another notch. I've used the tart pastry with lots of other dishes as well as the olive tapenade.  Tonight (Sunday - the day AFTER the party) I used up most of the leftovers.  The tapenade is still safely tucked away in the refrigerator until I can make the Olives Tart on Thursday.  I had to laugh today on the way to the office.  Connie was going on and on about how wonderful the olive tapenade was and how he'd never had any as good...  I casually mentioned that he'd probably had it at least five times and he'd even made it once...  REALLY?  He says.  Really.  It's the tapenade from the Olives Tart.  OHHHH.  That's really good stuff.  It is indeed.  Very versatile.  I wish I had this in my refrigerator all the time!


1 c kalamata olives, pitted

5 anchovy fillets

5 cloves garlic

1/2 c olive oil

1 T fresh rosemary leaves or 1 t dried


Place all of the ingredients in a food processor

and blend until it's a smooth paste.

from The Olives Cookbook by Todd English

Crispy Salami Rolls

28 salami slices, whole - 4" diameter

12 salami slices, chopped

8 oz cream cheese

1/2 c muffeletta (or, you can substitute chopped green olives)


Brown the salami slices until they're nice and crispy.

Drain them very well. Beat the cream cheese until it's fluffy. Fold in the crispy salami and muffeletta.

Schmear about 2 teaspoons of the cream cheese mixture on each salami slice and roll them up.