Sunday, September 30, 2012

Baltimore Crab Cakes

It was Singer’s turn to host this past Wednesday.  We celebrated her birthday by drinking champagne and gorging on enjoying an absolutely delectable flourless chocolate cake that Foodie made.  Being it was her (surprise) birthday celebration, we felt bad that it was Singer’s turn to cook but our regret quickly faded to delight as we devoured the crab cakes that she prepared.   I lived in a Baltimore suburb for a few years and eating these crustation disks of deliciousness brought back some wonderful memories.

Taking my first bite, I immediately tasted the Old Bay that blended so nicely with the tanginess of the mustard, the subtle heat of the jalapeño and the tartness of the lemon juice squeezed on top.

Baltimore Crab Cakes 
From: Bon Appetit Test Kitchen

¼ cup mayonnaise
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
½ jalapeño, seeded, finely chopped
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1 ¼ cup panko (these are Japanese breadcrumbs, now readily available at most supermarkets)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
¼ easpoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Lemon wedges for garnish

Whisk first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add crab; fold to blend. Stir in 3/4 cup panko, chives, salt, and pepper. Divide into 6 equal portions. Form each into 1"-thick patties. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place remaining 1/2 cup panko on a plate. Coat cakes with panko. Fry until golden brown and crisp, 3-4 minutes per side. Arrange atop lettuce; serve with lemon wedges.

Tartar Sauce
Mix together:
¼  cup mayonnaise
½ shallot minced
2 tablespoons of capers, rinsed and minced
2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish
1 ½ tsp of white wine vinegar
½ tsp of Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp of pepper

Additional note from the birthday girl….”I used an additional ¼ tsp of garlic/chili sauce to spice it up a bit!”

We ate, our gracious host opened presents, we drank, we talked.  Singer attempted to share photos from her trip to Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic, but her technology just would not cooperate.  It was, as always, a very pleasant evening.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pasta with Pumpkin and Parmesan

Dear readers,

This will be a quick note.  I promised my gym friends that I would post the recipe for an absolutely delicious and healthy pasta and pumpkin dish I found in the most recent edition of Prevention magazine.  So incredibly easy and delicious Fall yumminess.

Pasta with Pumpkin and Parmesan
1 package of tortellini  (cheese or mushroom)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (my addition)
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 cup of hot pasta water

Cook the pasta as directed.  In the meantime, heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold all the ingredients later.  Add the shallots, rosemary, garlic and nutmeg and saute, stirring until softened, about two minutes.  Stir in the pumpkin and the pasta water (more for a sauce with a thinner consistency).  Simmer until thickened.  Add the pasta and toss. Served topped with shaved Parmesan cheese and a sprig of rosemary. 

In the Good-to-Know category (not that there was such a category before)...also in this edition of Prevention , an article about a new conditioner that promotes a healthy scalp and hair growth... CLEAR Scalp and Hair Therapy Strong Lengths Nourishing Daily Conditioner.  It contains zinc prythione, which promotes and sustains hair growth and conditioning ingredients like sunflower seed oil that bulks-up hair strands. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fig Pancakes with Whipped Cream and Hazelnuts

As I told my dear readers in the “Knitted Shrug” post, I planned to attend the Rittenhouse Art Show with sister and best friend this past weekend.  What I didn’t plan on was a marathon blocking Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the surrounding northbound streets from 22nd Street through 4th Street for several hours. 

Needless to say, I was annoyed.  And late.  And hungry.

And I am a very cranky hungry person.  Ask sister and best friend….and former husband…which may help to explain the adjective.

The plan was to meet for breakfast before the art show and even though the meal could officially be classified as brunch by the time we ate, it was well worth the wait. 

We ate at a kitschy little diner at 4th and Spring Garden Streets called Silk City.  I ordered the Fig and Hazelnut Pancake special and let me say – without reservation – that these were the tastiest pancakes I’ve ever had.  The crunch and rich flavor of the hazelnuts blend so nicely with the sweetness of the figs and the smoothieness of the whipped cream.  My good mood was instantly restored, which sister and best friend totally appreciated.

Figs grow on trees and are a member of the mulberry family.  They are a cute little fruit, that, when sliced, reveal a colorful and luscious flesh.   Figs are versatile – used in both savory and sweet dishes – and are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure.  Figs are also a good source of dietary fiber, an important supplement for maintaining a healthy weight.

Since I did not leave the restaurant with a recipe (I usually ask, but I must have been so content that I forgot), the one offered below is cobbled together from a few I found on-line in an attempt to replicate the tastes.

Fig Pancakes with Whipped Cream and Hazelnuts


6-8 fresh figs, sliced lengthwise
2 eggs
1 ½ cup milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon maple extract (or you can use vanilla)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
(you can use 1 cup of either but I like to mix flours)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
1 smidge cinnamon (I define a smidge as a bit more than a pinch)
½  teaspoon nutmeg
Whipped cream
Maple syrup


In large mixing bowl stir together the flours, salt, half the nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl combine together eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir to blend. Pour the batter onto a hot griddle forming each pancake and top each pancake with a few sliced figs.  Cook until the batter is brown around the edges and the bubbles stop bubbling. Turn to brown the other side. Serve hot topped with whipped cream, maple syrup and the remaining hazelnuts OR with some fig jam….yum.

I really didn’t like these pancakes…can you tell?

We finally made it to the Art Show and I bought this delightful painted etching miniature by NYC artist, John Dorish.   Such a sweet little piece.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Knitted Shrug

Dear readers, I’d like to say right up-front – before anyone becomes faint from downright disbelief – that I did not make this charming little frock. 

I wish I had, but I did not.

It’s from a lovely little boutique in Swarthmore on Chester Road called compendium.  Equally lovely is the shop’s owner, Emily Scott, who greets everyone like she’s known them her whole life.  Daughter and I both feel like her new BFF.  The boutique showcases merchandise from independent and emerging designers, including the shop’s owner. Ms. Scott is introducing these designers, making it possible for them to showcase their goods and for chic-hungry consumers to acquire some beautiful and unique pieces.  To quote younger daughter....”Mom, you can buy me ANYTHING from compendium.  for Christmas!”  A native of North Wilmington, Emily tells me she has been sewing since she was a little girl and from what I can see, that stick-to-it-tiveness has paid off.   

In addition to woman and children’s clothing, the shop also carries handmade shoes, handbags and jewelry and some very eclectic prints and tee-shirts some of which are displayed on repurposed furniture, and you have to love that!

Now let’s discuss this darling little shrug.  It’s from a designer named Kate Blossom.  Kate’s Etsy page says that she loves “to create unique, earthy, ethereal, sometimes edgy, carefree, fun, country, chic, ranch, cottage clothes for women and children…casual, yet with a touch of elegance....with a spirit of the West and of the Irish moors my grandmother came from...” 

What I love most about this piece are the surprises…

the unraveled stitches…

the linen flower….

the lace trimmings….

ribbon embellishments…

…and even the earthy label. 

I am thrilled with this sweater…everything about it!  Today, I am going to "Art in Rittenhouse Square" with sister and best friend since childhood and I am wearing this little number.

Please take the time to visit compendium. and say hello to Emily.  We have to support our artisans so that they can thrive and their talents can inspire and delight others for a long time to come! 



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lemon Chicken with Potatoes, Rosemary & Olives

Daughter needed a new Spanish-English dictionary not because her old one is unexpectedly useless but because it somehow found a new home. 

So, she asked “now that the Borders is closed, where do we go to buy books?”  I answered that “there is a not as conveniently located Barnes & Noble about five miles away.” 

And off we went.  

I share this exchange because it is reassuring that others believe, as I do, that all the technology in the world will never replace the smell and vibe of a bookstore.   

Not that I don’t like technology.  You are, after all, reading this blog.
So she acquired a new dictionary, and as much as I tried to resist, temptation devoured me and I acquired a new cookbook for $7.98 called Simple Suppers, available in the bargain book section.  The back touts that the book “is invaluable, providing great straightforward recipes suitable for any occasion, whether it’s a simple speedy supper or a delicious meal suitable to entertain friends.”  Well that would be me…..on Wednesday night.

So, I’m flipping through the book – that has a picture of each recipe – and I pause at page 166 eyeballing a chicken recipe keeping in mind that it was my turn to cook this week.  I always fret plan days in advance when it’s my turn to cook.

The ingredients are pretty basic and there are only three steps in the preparation process…this is looking promising.

I decide to make this dish from the newest in my now overwhelming collection of cookbooks.

Lemon Chicken with Potatoes, Rosemary & Olives

8 skinless, bones chicken thighs
1 large lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, peeled and sliced thin
A bunch of rosemary
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces (I used Yukon Gold)
Salt and pepper
1 jar of pitted Kalamata olives

Preheat the oven to 400° Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish large enough to hold all of the ingredients.  Zest the lemon rind onto the chicken and squeeze the juice of the lemon over the chicken.  Toss to coat and let sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the potatoes for 5-7 minutes in salted water, drain and put aside.

After 10 minutes, add the olive oil, garlic, onions and half of the rosemary sprigs to the chicken mixture.  Toss gently and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, add the potatoes to the chicken mixture and toss gently.  Roast the potato and chicken mixture in the oven for 45 minutes. Replace the rosemary sprigs with fresh rosemary, add the olives and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Garnish with fresh rosemary…I forgot this step.

This dish, accompanied by roasted asparagus, was simple, but delicious.  We also had an arugula salad served in the lovely traveling salad bowl and a delicious Malbec from Argentina.  For dessert, we had fruit cobbler with vanilla ice cream fresh whipped cream.

Foodie, once again, came to my rescue and assisted with a knitting problem.  Hopefully, I'll have some significant progress to share on my current project this weekend.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Raspberry Puree Sauce

This past Wednesday, our weekly dinner gatherings started up again following our summer break.  It was wonderful to catch up with everyone and hear about their trips to Europe, California, and, of course, the beach.  My assignment -- as it always is when we have dinner at Architect’s house -- was dessert.  Foodie reminded me of the time I almost set her house on fire making Brandied Bananas.  No fire involved this time, but I did gussy up bakery bought lemon bars with homemade raspberry puree sauce and fresh raspberries.  Easy-peasy, kind of swanky, and so delicious!

Anyway, following a delicious dinner of chicken roasted on the grill, roasted sweet and Yukon gold potatoes,
a delicious field green and plum salad (served in the lovely traveling salad bowl) and a bottle of FrancisCoppola red wine (I think it was a Cabernet Sauvignon…regardless, it was good!) we enjoyed lemon bars drizzled with fresh raspberry puree sauce.

Raspberry Puree Sauce (adapted)

1 pint fresh raspberries
¼ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cold water

Whisk the cornstarch into the cold water until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture, raspberries, sugar, honey, and orange juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the desired consistency is almost reached…the sauce will thicken as it cools. Once cooled, puree the sauce in a blender then strain through a sieve to capture the seeds and liberate the smooth, velvety raspberry sauce. You can serve this warm or cold…I served it cold.

This sauce would be perfect served warm on ice cream, cheese cake, pancakes or even to give a salad a little zip.  Brownies would definitely steal the show with a bit of this sauce incorporated.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Crock Pot Oatmeal

I belong to a very nice gym in Wilmington, DE called Plexus.  In addition to flexible schedules, nice equipment, great classes, beautiful locker rooms and knowledgeable staff, there is a resident yogini who often offers delicious and nutritious recipes, many of which are available on the sister yoga website, Empowered Yoga.

Anyway, my co-worker often brings real, home-prepared oatmeal to work and one day I asked her about the recipe. She told me it’s from the EP site and gave me a copy.  Taking a quick glance at the ingredients, I had all on hand, except a small crock pot.

I do have a big, honking, dinosaur crock pot so I decided to stop at Target to see if I could score a cheaper smaller one while they are still offering back-to-campus deals.

$10 for a 2 quart, classic round crock pot…with recipes. SOLD.

Crock Pot Oatmeal

1 cup steel cut oats (not quick oats or instant)
4 cups of water
2 tablespoons of flax seed
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

The night before you want to enjoy this super-food breakfast, combine all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 2-3 hours.  Store overnight in the refrigerator.  In the morning, reheat in the microwave and top with walnuts or almonds and fresh fruit.  I used blueberries and strawberries that I also got at Target.  Gotta love Target.

According to the Blueberry Council, blueberries are dietary rock stars.  Blueberries are a powerful antioxidant that work to neutralize molecules linked to the development of cancer.  Additionally, they contain vitamin C, dietary fiber and manganese, important for bone health and converting certain foods into energy.