Maryland Crab Cakes

Maryland is famous for it’s crab cakes, and you can’t visit without trying them.  Maryland crab cakes are different than a lot of other crab cakes that are out there because they have more actual crab in them, whereas others have more breading in them and are often referred to as “deviled crab cakes”.  I like them both, and both are tasty, but once you have had the original; the best; it is hard to go back to something different.  When we travel, we love to eat the local foods, and the best places to go are where the locals eat.   So we asked the residents of Havre de Grace where to go and we were told MacGregor’s had the best crab cakes in town.  They were scrumptious.  We actually split one crab cake meal between us, and we each had some Maryland crab soup as well.  My husband had the Maryland crab soup with a tomato base, vegetables and potatoes, while I had the creamy crab soup that was more like a crab chowder.  Both were delicious, and added to our crab cake plate, it made the perfect Maryland meal.  MacGregor’s is located at the very most northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay, and the back of the restaurant faces the Bay.  So you get a fabulous, authentic seafood dinner with a fantastic view of the Chesapeake Bay all at the same location.

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Havre de Grace is a town located at the northern most tip of the Chesapeake Bay.  It is  rich with history, dating back to the days of George Washington and the French troops of 1781.

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Maryland Crab Cakes

1 lb lump crab meat

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup mayonnaise

lemon juice to taste

1 TBSP garlic

1 cup onion, chopped fine

1 cup red pepper, chopped fine

1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs

1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce

1 TBSP malt vinegar

1 tsp paprika

cayenne pepper to taste

1 TBSP dry mustard

1 tsp parsley, chopped fine

salt & pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375* F

Mix the eggs, mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice together and mix well.  Then add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.   Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Form the crab mixture into patties that are palm sized and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Spray the top of the crab cakes with additional cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for an additional 5 minutes.  Serve with lemon and tartar sauce.  MacGregor’s served their crab cakes on top of a large cracker.

 

 

***MacGregor’s is located at:

331 Saint John Street, Havre de Grace, MD 21078

You can find them at Macgreghdg@aol.com or http://www.MACGREGORSRESTAURANT.com

 

 

 

Wine, Wine Everywhere Wine

Wine is one of the most universal beverages there is.  It is the nectar of the Gods.  Grapes and vineyards are grown in many different countries around the world, and just about every state in the United States grows some kind of grapes for wine.   There are the big mass producing wineries that we have all heard of.  There are medium size wineries, that are also fairly well known.  And then there are the small, boutique wineries that produce less than 10,000 cases of wine per year.  Often times, these smaller, boutique wineries are hidden treasures that are just waiting to be discovered.

While we were in Maryland, we were looking for things to do when we discovered one of these rare gems.  It was a small, family owned and operated boutique winery in Havre de Grace.  Our fabulous discovery was the Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery, owned and operated by the Ianniello family.   We were cared for very well by both Peter and his daughter Martine.   Mount Felix’s motto is “Wind, Water  & Wine …enjoy the view one sip at a time!”   How true that is too.  Mount Felix is located on 20 acres of rolling hills, filled with vineyards of different grapes.   It overlooks the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay.  The winery was an old farm house built in the 1880’s, and the Ianniello family lives right there in the house.    Mount Felix produces about 5000 cases per year.  They produce wines to satisfy all palettes, whether they lean to the sweeter side of wine or the dryer side.  I prefer dryer wines to sweeter wines, and the selections they offered for the dry flight were all delicious. They offered everything from a chardonnay to a full bodied red, as well as a nice, soothing and relaxing port.  If you like sweeter wines, they have a great flight for those as well, with some interesting infusions of different fruits, from blueberry to cherry to pumpkin.  The pumpkin wine would be delicious served as a mulled wine for the Holidays, especially Thanksgiving.

 

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Peter and Martine, with me in the middle, and a bottle of their Christilan Arias port, which was delicious by the way.   The Ianniello family is a very generous family and support a lot of charities.  We are holding the cookbook, Cooking With the Pros, by David Ortiz, formerly from the Boston Red Sox, and his famous athlete friends.   The proceeds of this cookbook go towards the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.  This fabulous book was a gift to me from Peter and Mount Felix.  I will definitely be cooking up a lot of these fabulous recipes, and of course, I will share them will all of you once I do.

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Now that’s a wine glass!

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Many thanks to Peter, Martine and Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery.  I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with you.

Next time you are in visiting the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay area, definitely pop in to Mount Felix for a delicious glass or two of wine and take in the sights of their beautiful winery.  The address is 2000 Level Road, Havre de Grace, MD 21078.  You can find them on Facebook: Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery; Instagram @MountFelix or Twitter@MountFelix.

 

The Legendary Kitchen of Julia Child

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Hello everyone.  I am back.  We took a little mini vacation to Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.  We were there for our nephew’s wedding, and of course we did some sight seeing as well.  We were only gone for a few days, and the weather was cold and rainy most of the time, but we still were able to get a lot done.  Pardon the pictures of me.  We took a red eye flight from Colorado to Washington D.C. and then went straight from the airport to the sights, and the rain, of the D.C. area.  So, unfortunately, I look like the tired drowned rat that I was.  Believe it or not though, I was actually doing a lot of research for my blog as well, mixing pleasure with “business”, although doing my blogging “business” is very pleasurable to me, and hopefully to all of you as well.

One of the stops we made while in Washington D.C. was the Smithsonian Museum, and of course, we had to see the food display.  It was all great, but the highlight for me was seeing the “legendary kitchen” of the one and only Julia Child.  She was and continues to be a huge inspiration and influence to me and many other chefs around the world.  Through her hard work, dedication and passion for cooking and food, Ms. Child was revolutionary in changing the way America and the world in general eats and cooks, taking cooking from being merely a necessity of life to the level of Culinary Art that it has become.  I wish I could have met her and could share a kitchen with her, but that will have to be in another time and place.  Ms. Child and I have a lot of things in common.  We are both from Pasadena, CA.  We both have a passion for both food and wine.  We love to entertain.  We both believe there is no such thing as too much butter, and everything is better with butter, and maybe even a little more butter just to be sure.  In the museum, there was a clip of Ms. Child and Jacque Pepin cooking together.  Mssr. Pepin was trying to make the recipe a little healthier, and was cutting down on the fats and the butter, while the whole time, Ms. Child just kept adding more and more butter.  They were doing one of Julia Child’s cooking shows in front of a live audience, and the audience was in stitches.  The look on Mssr. Pepin’s face just said it all.  He did his best not to break into a hardy laugh, while trying to make his dish, but could barely contain himself.  He finally just gave in to Ms. Child, because she was going to add as much butter as she wanted to, no matter what Mssr. Pepin did or said.  I can totally relate to that.  People always tease me for adding butter, and then more butter to my recipes.  And I whole heartedly follow her philosophy of wine for the food and wine for the cook.   If you ever get a chance to see the tribute that the Smithsonian has for Ms. Child, definitely go see it.  It is a fun tribute to the one and only Julia Child.  So as Ms. Child would say, “Bon Appetit”.

 

 

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Creole Honey Mustard Chicken

If you have been following my blog, you probably have already realized I love big, bold flavors.  I love to both cook and eat foods that let you know they are there.  Although there is a time and place for subtlety and milder flavors, for me, it is more the exception rather than the rule.  Given the choice, I am almost always going to go for the gusto.  I guess my taste in foods reflects my general personality as well.  I don’t hold back.  I just go for it.  This recipe captures this joie de vivre and has a bit of of a zing that will bring your taste buds to life.  It is a blend of classic honey mustard chicken with a new, updated twist that really makes the chicken pop.  And, it is super simple.  All you need to do is make your blend, that only contains four simple ingredients, and marinate the chicken.  I marinated it for about 4 hours.

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Creole Honey Mustard Sauce

Georgia Boys’ Creole mustard (any spicy mustard blend will work just fine)

Dijon mustard

honey

fresh cilantro, chopped fine

Mix all the ingredients together and blend well.  I used about 3 heaping TBSP of the Creole mustard, about 1 heaping TBSP of the Dijon mustard and about 2 heaping TBSP of honey, with about 1/4-1/3 cup of chopped cilantro.

I heated up the left over marinade (that had NOT been used on the chicken) and served it on top of the chicken once it was grilled and cooked.

 

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Creole Honey Mustard Chicken served over a bed of rice and lentils and topped with green beans and the left over Creole honey mustard sauce and toasted almonds.  I finished it off with a medium oaked chardonnay that had hints of apricots and lemon.  Bon Appetit!

 

*** Georgia Boys is a little family owned BBQ place here in the North Denver Metro area.  I don’t go there nearly as often as I would like, but if you are out in the North Denver area, it is definitely worth a visit.  Their burnt brisket tips are to die for.  They make all their own sauces, which are all really tasty, but their Creole mustard sauce is one of my favorites.

 

 

 

Vegan Iced Lemon Sugar Cookies

I experiment with all kinds of foods and all kinds of cooking techniques all the time.   I love to learn and try new things and new ways of cooking, and do so all the time.  Vegan cooking has been an ongoing experiment and a work in progress for a few years now.   I am not vegan or even vegetarian, but I know quite a few people who are and I try my best to cook things they can eat and enjoy as well.  Cooking vegan is not that much different from cooking regular foods, you just have to make sure that all the products you are using do not contain any animal products at all.  It is easy substitutions like using soy, almond, or rice milk instead of regular milk, and vegan butter instead of regular butter, and everything must be made completely from plant based products.  This is really not all that difficult once you know what to use and what you are looking for.  But vegan baking is a whole different story.  This can be tricky if you do not know your ingredients and where they come from.   There are a lot of things we would not think about that come from animal products.  A lot of items contain lecithin, which contains milk products, or gelatin, which is made from marrow.  Honey cannot be used either, because bees make the honey, although you can easily substitute agave for honey.  And you have to find substitutes for eggs that are vegan and often times you have to use things like flax seed or xanthum gum, or other different ingredients and different kinds of flours that you would not normally use when baking.  Often times, you cannot find these specialty ingredients in your normal grocery stores either, although these products are becoming more readily available.  You just have to know where to look and what you are looking for.  Vegan cooking I have down pat.  No problem.  But vegan baking can still be complicated, even for me.   One of the biggest challenges I face when I bake vegan dishes is that more so than not, they come out very dry.  As I said, it is still a work in progress, and I continue to experiment and tweak things all the time.

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The ingredient list.

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Rolling the cookies in sugar and pressing them before baking.

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Vegan Iced Lemon Sugar Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup sugar, plus more to roll the pre-cooked cookies in

1 cup softened vegan butter

1/3 cup lemon zest

1/2 cup silken tofu

3 TBSP lemon juice

 

Pre-heat oven to 400*F.

Sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside.  Mix the vegan butter and sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy, then add the tofu, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Mix together again.  Add the flour mixture 1/2 at a time and mix until everything is well combined and incorporated.  Roll the dough into balls about 1″ thick and then roll in the sugar.  Slightly press them to flatten them and bake for about 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden in color.  Let cool, then ice.  You can serve them either with or without the icing, but I thought they needed a little more pizzazz, so I adding the lemon icing.

 

Vegan Lemon Icing

1-2 TBSP vegan butter

2 TBSP soy, rice or almond milk

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp lemon extract

 

Mix all together and spread on your cookies.

 

 

 

 

Angel Hair Pasta with Scallops and Chorizo

I love scallops.  They are right up there with shrimp, crab and halibut as being amongst some of my favorite seafood dishes.  I love them cooked just about any way possible.  In fact, to date, I have never come across a scallop recipe I didn’t like.  The larger sea scallops are my favorites, although I do like the smaller bay scallops as well.   They both have slightly different flavors and both are good in a wide variety of dishes.  I tend to use the smaller bay scallops more for salads, but that is just me.  We love this recipe and I make it quite often when we have both sea scallops and chorizo sausage in the house.   This dish combines the sweet, delicate flavors of the sea scallops with the bold spicy flavors of the chorizo to make the perfect combination.

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Angel Hair Pasta with Scallops and Chorizo

cooked angel hair pasta

1 1/2 lbs sea scallops

1 lb ground chorizo sausage

1 large shallot, sliced very thin

1 heaping TBSP garlic, minced

mushrooms, sliced

spinach, chopped

grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in 1/2 ( you can use any kind of tomatoes you like.  Roma tomatoes work just fine as well. Or mix and match, as I did.  I used grape tomatoes and small komato tomatoes.)

1 can chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine

red pepper flakes to taste

salt & pepper to taste

Parmagiano cheese (optional)

olive oil as needed

 

Cook your sausage completely, then remove from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan, with the chorizo drippings, added additional olive oil as needed, cook your scallops for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned on all sides.  Remove and set aside.  Add your shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for about 2 minutes, or until the shallots are translucent.  Then add your wine and make sure to get all your drippings mixed in.  Reduce until about 1/2 of the liquid is gone.  This only takes a couple of minutes at most.  Add the chicken broth, spinach, mushrooms, and salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for about 5-7 minutes.  Add your scallops, chorizo and tomatoes.  Adjust the seasoning if needed and serve over the angel hair pasta.  Top with Parmagiano cheese if you desire.

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