Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tapas for July

I cannot believe it's been two months since we hosted the last Tapas Night.  I have to confess I missed doing it last month and I'm not going to let two months go by again like that.
From now on, it's every month. 
Besides which I need an excuse or would that be an impetus to clean my house?  
Just kidding.  I've been known to wash the kitchen floor on a regular basis.  Not to mention cleaning the stove, etc. 
I'm just heading down to the kitchen to wash the glasses and think back on all the conversations, and great dishes that were brought last night. 
I think I might have actually gotten pictures of most of them.
Yay me!
But I'm going to start this off with a look at the table after everyone's gotten a plate or two full of all the great dishes that were brought.
Now that's the picture of a successful party. 
Here's how it looked going in.
 Potato Salad with Beets a new taste for me and very good as well.
Potato salad with Beets
  Southwest style rollups, absolutely lovely
 Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, two great tastes in one. 
Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
 Peel and Eat Shrimp, shrimp is good good.
Peel and Eat Shrimp
 Deviled Ham Salad, love Deviled Ham, and this was so good.
Deviled Ham Salad
 King Mackerel Bites, I need the recipe for these, as well as a King Mackerel?
King Mackeral Bites
 Layered Salad.  I had to do two views of this, it was so pretty, and it tasted great as well.  I now have footed bowl envy.  I need one of these.  Really I do. 
Layered Salad

Layered Salad
 Spinach Roll (temporary name until I find the right name)  So good though
Spinach Roll
 .  Roasted Brussels Sprouts I find it hard to believe that there was a time I did not like Brussels Sprouts.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
 Black Bean, Okra and Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and Roasted Tomatoes
Black Bean, Okra and Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
 Gingered Carrots, light and tasty
Gingered Carrots
 Sausage Bread I've hinted very strongly that I need this recipe.
Sausage Bread
  In the back there, was a fish dip with jalapeno's which I did not get a great shot of. my bad.
Before we get to the Dessert Portion of today's post, here are my contributions.
  Carrabelle Crab Cakes which took first place as in, 'winner winner, chicken dinner' for the first Annual Crab Cake Cook Off.
Carrabelle Crab Cakes
    This was a fund raiser for the Carrabelle Lighthouse.  And look at the cute trophy I got. 
Brie wheel with Crusty Bread
Brie wheel with Crusty Bread  (I had planned on making a Baked Brie but my oven is on hiatus until next week)
I also made an Herb Goat Cheese Spread with Pretzel crackers.  You can see them right to the back of the brie picture. As well as these Meatballs in Marinara Sauce
Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

And now for the desserts:
 Boston Cream Pie, Pineapple and in the back Cheesecake Cups
Cheesecake Cups, Pineapple and Boston Cream Pie
Peanut Butter Rice Krispie treat with frosting.
and last but not least this Trifle. 
Which is a fitting end to a great evening.  

I've put off the dishes long enough, time to get down to the kitchen and wash them and reflect.  
Until next month...

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Carrabelle Crab Cakes

I know I titled this Crab Cakes, my way, but really any time you make any kind of dish, you make it 'your way'.  Whether you follow the directions to a 'T' or put your own twist to it, no two people will make it exactly the same.  I did re-title this to Carrabelle Crab Cakes.

Crab Cakes aka Carrabelle Crab Cakes
And that goes doubly, triply, multiple times for Crab Cakes.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend and we were talking, casually, about various things.  You know, sealing wax, cabbages and kings.
She mentioned that a couple of local guys were talking about their crab cakes and how they thought theirs were good and I said I make a mean crab cake as well.   And the rest is history.

The upshot is that a lot of people around here swear their crab cake is the best.

I  put my money where my mouth is and competed against three very good cooks in our first Annual Crab Cake Cookoff.  And best of all, this was also a very well attended fund raiser for the Crooked River Lighthouse, the goal of which is to replace the 'pirate ship Carrabella' which was burnt last year. 

Did I mention I won?  Well, I did.

Although the Lighthouse was the big winner here.  I just got a cool trophy and bragging rights. giggle.

I'm sharing the winning crab cake recipe here.   I don't believe in 'secret recipes', I think we should all have the ability to cook to the best of our skills and knowledge.   And that includes how to make something as simple and yet polarizing as a Crab Cake.

In my opinion a Crab Cake should be a simple thing to make.  Nothing fancy, just crab, a little bit of filler, and something to make it stick together enough so you can make cakes out of it and either fry them or bake them.  Either way is good.

Personally, I like mine fried in a little bit of butter and olive oil.

Recipe:   Carrabelle Crab Cakes   Yield: 4-6 good sized crab cakes or about 25 small appetizer size crab cakes.

1 lb. Lump Crab Meat
20 saltines, crushed, not too fine
1/4 cup Mayonnaise  (I love Dukes Mayo for this, as it's so thick and rich and most like my own homemade mayo)
1 egg, separated
1/2 tablespoon Sambal Oelek Sauce  (use less if not a fan of hot stuff)
flour for dredging
butter and olive oil for frying.
Chives for garnish
Lemon and Lime slices for garnish as well. 

Crush the saltines until they resemble a fine crumb, but don't pulverize them completely.
Crushed Saltines
  Set aside.  Beat the egg white until it's nice and fluffy but not stiff.
Mix the egg yolk, Sambal Oelek and the mayonnaise together.

  Fold in the beaten egg white, set aside for a minute.
Put the crab meat in a large bowl, pick through it if needed to get bits of shell out, but don't break up the crab too much.  I mean it.  Treat this as if it were the most fragile cake batter you've ever made.  

 Sprinkle the saltines over top of the crab and mix in gently.  This will help to absorb any liquid in the crab. 

 Fold the egg/mayo mixture into the crab, using a spatula and lifting up from the bottom and the sides.  Just until it's incorporated. (or in my case I started to lift the mixture up from the bottom with my handy dandy blue gloves and then switched to a spatula)

I know I keep saying gently, I mean it too.  The whole point is to keep the crab in as big pieces as possible.
When ready to cook, heat a pan up with some butter and olive oil to medium high.  I actually made some Ghee as the solids in the butter can burn very easily.
Make crab cake patties using an ice cream scoop
and dredge with some flour. 

 Shake off the excess flour before cooking though.  Flatten slightly before putting them into the pan to cook.
Add to pan and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until you get a nice brown crust.  You want the pan to be fairly hot, medium high heat.
  Serve with a dipping sauce if desired.

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. Sambal Oelek
juice from one lime
zest from one lime (zest the lime before you try to squeeze the juice out, it's much easier to do that first. Please learn from my oop's) 

Stir together and serve with the crab cakes.  Garnish with some chopped chives if desired.

I'm also going to make some for our Tapas Night, cause it's always nice to share. 

Hey, crab cakes are good food.  
Carrabelle Crab Cakes
and here I am with the trophy.

2016 Carrabelle Crab Cake Cook Off winner

I was featured on Miz Helen's Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday, here it is, with pride.  Full Plate Thursday

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Blackened Mango Shrimp on a Stick.

I've decided that I'm just going to keep on featuring Shrimp for my Fish Friday Foodies offerings.

I'd had a great idea for using Tuna, but just didn't make it into the fish store for some.

I usually have shrimp in my freezer anyway and really, I love shrimp so...

 Ta Da!!!!

Shrimp on a stick
Blackened  Mango Shrimp on a Stick.    6-8 shrimp per serving (depending on size)

1 lb. peeled uncooked shrimp
1 jar Mango Chutney  ( I love Crosse & Blackwells Major Grey's Chutney)
1 tsp. Blackened Seasoning ( I used some of my Healthy Solutions Cajun Seafood Seasoning)
1 tsp. EVOO or Avocado Oil
Prepare the shrimp by threading it onto a skewer, then sprinkle with the Cajun Seafood Seasoning.
Heat a pan with some EVOO or Avocado Oil (which I've just discovered is great for sauteeing, high smoke point is always a good thing), until almost smoking.  
Set the shrimp into the pan, you want to 'blacken' the shrimp with the seasoning.
  Saute' on one side for a couple of minutes, then turn over and cook the other side, just another minute or so.   I like my shrimp to 'pop' when I bite into them, so be careful you don't over cook.
Serve with some Yaki Soba Noodles and snow peas and carrots or some other stir fried veggies.    And use some of the Major Grey's Chutney for a dipping sauce for the shrimp.  It's a fun, unique combination that tastes great.  
I think this would also work well on the grill, or under the broiler but since my oven went on strike and said NO!! to my using it anymore,  and I don't have a grill, I used a little fry pan instead.

And for some reason I've been on a blackened seasoning kick lately and have been pairing it up with all kinds of fun dips.  And this one, I thought was a winner. 
I know Chutney and Blackened seasoning?  But it works, it really works together.   

Shrimp on a stick
In the interests of full disclosure, the Healthy Solutions Cajun Seafood Seasoning was given to me to help develop recipes.  Thank you Healthy Solutions Spice Blends.  I've used a lot of their seasoning mixtures and haven't found a bad one yet.  No sugar, no salt, no MSG.  I love this stuff.

Now go check out all the other Seafood on a Stick.  Sue of A Palatable Pastime  is our hostess this month and it was her idea to put our seafood on a stick.    Sorry Sue, but I used some bamboo skewers, no sticks unless you count the toothpicks?  . 

Next month we've got to stuff a whole fish, giggle, and it won't be shrimp, or maybe it will, who knows.

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