Monday, September 01, 2014

Corn Crab Cakes

Wee miniature crab cakes.
As I mentioned the other day, we had plenty of crab meat left over from Mr Minx's birthday crabs. Some of it went into a crab salad eaten with nectarine soup, and the rest went into the ubiquitous crab cakes. We also had a leftover ear of bi-color corn. I didn't want to fight over it, so I sliced the kernels off the cob and tossed them in with the crab.

We also had some of my brother-in-law's corn fritters/hush puppies left. Rather than use crackers or bread in the crab cakes, I broke up a fritter, soaked it in a little milk, and added it to the mix. Yes, I am a big fan of recycling. You're not likely to have any giant hush puppies lying around, but cornbread or a corn muffin will do. Just don't use too much--you don't want the breading to be obvious. It should just be part of the "spackle" that holds the shreds of crab together.

Corn and Crab Cakes

1 ear of sweet corn
1/2 lb fresh blue crab meat, picked over for shells
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 egg
1/2 corn muffin, or 2x2" square of corn bread
1 tablespoon half and half
Oil for frying

Cut the kernels of corn off the cob and put into a large bowl. Add the crab meat.

In another bowl, beat together the mayonnaise and the egg, add the Old Bay.

Crumble the corn muffin/bread and soak the crumbs in the half and half. When the crumbs are moist, put them in the bowl with the crab and corn. Add the mayo mixture and fold gently. Refrigerate for at least one hour before forming into large or small cakes.

Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add several cakes at a time to the pan, but do not crowd--you want to be able to get a spatula in there to flip 'em.

Cook cakes until brown on both sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain before serving. Serve with tartar sauce (or not).

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Congratulations Conrad's Chef Jake Hack!

The Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament, a live, local, interactive culinary competition concluded this week in front of a sell-out crowd at the Inn at the Colonnade a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel (4 University Parkway, Baltimore). The bracket-style single-elimination tournament started back in June with 16 area chef teams vying for over $10,000 in cash and prizes, and the title of “2014 Mason Dixon Master Chef Champions."

After 14 events, and seven weeks of competition, Conrad’s Seafood and Chefs’ Expressions went head-to-head for one final match on Sunday, August 24th. Both teams brought their expertise and creativity to “Battle Craft / Local Artisan,” but only one emerged as the Champion – Conrad’s Seafood!

Both chef teams were required to use a variety of featured products including an award-winning Berkshire Hog supplied by Autumn Olive / AM Briggs, horseradish from Tulkoff Foods, oysters from E. Goodwin and Sons, sweet country sausage from Logan’s Sausage, domestic wild rice from Roland Foods, Milano hot coppa from Atalanta, and unsalted Vermont butter from Emmi Roth USA. In addition, each chef team had two secret ingredients they had to incorporate at the last minute. Conrad’s secret ingredients were guanciale and Vidal Blanc wine from Boordy Vineyards (who also hosted the wine tasting for the Final Match), Chefs’ Expressions secret ingredients were pancetta and a Boordy Reisling.

The Conrad’s Seafood team (Executive Chef Jake Hack, Sous Chef Joe Lancelotta, and Chef Assistant Gary Citterman), had 30 minutes of cold prep and just one hour of cooking time to produce their winning dishes of DECONSTRUCTED MARYLAND COBB (Artisan greens, fried oyster, chicharrones, sweet sausage viniagrette, quail egg), THREE LITTLE PIGS (Roulade of pork with oyster and sausage stuffing over cured pork grits and fried lollipop kale), and PORK AND PEACHES (Pork and peach cake, bruleed peach, and pecan brittle), a dessert that “wowed” all three expert judges.

The Chefs’ Expressions team (Executive Chef Adam Snyder, Sous Chef William Jones, and Chef Assistant Adelaide Kachur) created equally impressive dishes of CRISPY WILD RICE PANCAKE and OYSTER FRITTER (with horseradish sausage aioli and crispy fried coppa salad) for the appetizer, PETERMAN’S MAPLE SUMAC GLAZED PORK SHOULDER (with farmstand black walnut romesco, and purslane salad with baby potatoes) for the entrée, and STICKY PAW PAW PUDDING (paw paw Riesling sorbet, wild mint gastrique, and Jenny's apples) for dessert.

The expert judging panel for the night was Mitchell Platt, General Manager of The COSMOS Club in Washington, DC, Chef Marc Dixon, Owner of Barconcina, and Chef Neill Howell, owner of The Corner Pantry and last year’s Mason Dixon Master Chef Champion. This panel, along with audience members who purchased ‘Judging Experience’ tickets, tasted and voted to determine the night’s winner.

The winning Conrad’s Seafood team received almost $10,000 in prizes, including: $1,000 cash from the organizers, a Wisconsin cheese making trip with sponsor Emmi Roth USA which includes airfare and an overnight stay with behind the scenes education and tours of cheese making facilities as well as a beer brewery tour (valued at approximately $3,000), a Vulcan convection oven (valued at $3,000), a professional Robo Coupe food processor ($800), a bar basket from American Metal Craft, a day of training with German Certified Master Chef Edwin Scholly, the official Chef a la Mode Championship jacket, a plaque for the winning restaurant, metals for each member of the winning team, and of course bragging rights as the 2014 Mason Dixon Master Chef Champions! The First runner up also receives culinary prizes from sponsors valued at over to $1,100.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Nectarine Soup with Crab Salad

It has long been a tradition to have steamed crabs for Mr Minx's birthday. We usually get two dozen, which comfortably feeds four adults, but for some reason, we had a ton left over this year. We did our part, putting away a dozen between the two us (along with hush puppies and corn on the cob), but there were still several crabs left by the time we were done. These were meaty suckers, so once we picked the remaining critters, we had a whole pound of meat (.984 lb, to be exact) left over.

I can probably eat a pound of crabmeat served with nothing but a fork, but that's no fun, and maybe more than a bit piggy. I didn't want to only make crabcakes, especially since I feel I've done that recently. I thought back to a soup I made with avocados and garnished with crab salad and decided that would hit the spot. Only we didn't have any avocados. But we did have a big bag of nectarines and white peaches that I had purchased at the farmers' market earlier in the week. Rather than going to my old stand-by soup, gazpacho, I decided to let the nectarines speak for themselves. Blended with a bit of Greek yogurt and seasoned with savory spices, it went nicely with the rich, sweet, blue crab (the best crab!).

As for the salad, I went with a ceviche-style preparation, with citrus juices, jalapeno, and tomato. Mr Minx and I agreed that it was a restaurant-quality dish, and not really all that difficult to prepare. And made entirely from things we already had on hand in the pantry and fridge.

Nectarine Soup with Crab Salad

For soup:
5 nectarines
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chicken stock (you can use veg stock, or water)
1/4 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon harissa powder
Pinch cayenne
Large pinch salt
Agave syrup, to taste

For salad:
1 small shallot, minced
1 small tomato, seeded and diced, or 5-6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1/2 lb fresh blue crab meat

To make soup: Peel nectarines and cut into chunks, discarding pits. Place nectarine flesh into a blender or food processor with remaining ingredients except cayenne, salt, and agave syrup, and pulse to a puree. Season to taste with the last three ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make salad: Place vegetables in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together citrus juices, olive oil, and agave syrup. Pour over vegetables. Add crab meat and gently fold to coat with dressing. Refrigerate for at least an hour for flavors to meld and to tame the oniony-ness of the shallot.

To serve: Pour soup into bowls or cups. Top with a generous portion of crab salad.

Serves 4-6, with extra crab salad.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sailabration Events

So what are you doing for the Sailabration on September 13th? Waterfront Kitchen is having two parties, both with harborside seats for the fireworks.

Sailabration Spectacular Cocktail Party

There's no better place to party during Charm City's Star-Spangled Sailabration Spectacular than with us on the harborfront promenade at Waterfront Kitchen. Stoked on great food and drink, surrounded by friends, you won't have to ask, "Oh say, can you see?," when the fireworks start. They will be bursting in air in full technicolor directly overhead. Join us for a great party. We're celebrating the good life, Chesapeake style, in this land of the free and home of the brave.

Party: 7:30-10:30 p.m. Fireworks: 9:30 p.m. Cost: $59.

On the Table
Buckets of Housemade Celery Salt & Cayenne Pepper Potato Chipswith Blue Cheese Dip
Buckets of Sweet & Spicy Applewood-smoked Bacon

From the Grill
Brown Sugar and Espresso Marinated Flank Steak Sandwiches
Grilled Onions, Housemade Steak Sauce
Soy, Orange and Ginger Marinated Pork Loin Sliders
Asian Slaw
Maryland Sweet Corn, Old Bay Butter

To be Passed
Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Spicy Chicken Satay, Hoisin Dipping Sauce
Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Brioche Pizzas

Local Beers and Wine

For tickets: EventBrite.

Sailabration Spectacular All-American Wine Dinner

Could there be a more fitting way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key's national anthem? We don't think so. Join Chef Jerry Pellegrino for a five-course, eight-wine All-American Wine Dinner, with seats on our harborfront promenade and a spectacular fireworks display overhead. Yes, it's the very same harbor from which the Star Spangled Banner was penned. And no, we won't mind at all if you break into a patriotic chorus or two during dinner. That's what the entire celebration is about.

Dinner: 6:30 p.m. Fireworks: 9:30 p.m. Cost: $159.

Chef’s Amuse
Domaine Chandon ‘étoile’ Rosé

To Start
Pan Roasted Rockfish
Chanterelles, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Corn & Thyme
Peter Michael ‘L’apris Midi’ 2012 (Sauvignon Blanc)

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Sweetbreads atop a Veal Crepenette
Braised Fall Greens, Griottine Cherry, Sweet Potato
Martinelli ‘Bella Vigna’ Pinot Noir 2012
Martinelli ‘Zio Tony Ranch’ Pinot Noir 2012

Great Napa Cabernet
Fall Spice Braised Beef Short Rib
Truffled Potato Cream, Grilled Figs, Braising Jus
Axios 2003
Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Robert Foley Claret 2010

The Undeniable King of Syrah
Pan Seared Foie Gras
Plum & Rosemary
Sean Thackrey Orion 2010

To Finish
A Study in Chocolate

For tickets: EventBrite

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