Who Doesn’t Like Crab Burgers? Or Crab Cakes?

Crab burger? Crab cake? Not much diff, really. But let me tell you: These burgers are G-O-O-D! Best of all for a summertime meal, they are actually better when mixed and formed early in the day when it’s cool, and then left in the ‘fridge until it’s time to cook them.

Here’s a picture of a crab boat from the Chesapeake Bay, where some of the best crabs in the country — the world! — come from. And, as I make my crab burgers with Cajun seasonings, we can ‘t forget the delicious crabs from the Gulf of Mexico that they are eaten all through Louisiana. Lucky people!

Image

Cajun Crab Burgers

What’s the difference between a crab burger and a crab cake? I am not sure there is much. I serve them in nice soft potato buns, which work best with seafood burgers and I especially like the crab with the South Louisiana spices found in the crab mixture and the mayo. When making crab burgers or crab cakes, always start with the best crabmeat you can find and afford. And if you mix and form these ahead of time, not only will life be easier when it’s time to cook them, they will hold together a little better in the hot oil. To save even more time at the last minute, cook these ahead of time and reheat them in the oven, arranged in a shallow baking pan. And, p.s., the mayo is so tasty you will want to use it for other sandwiches and burgers, etc.

Serves 6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup minced onion (about 1/2 onion)

1/2 cup minced celery

1/2 cup minced green bell pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 large egg

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

11/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 pound lump crabmeat

11/2 to 13/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs (see note)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil, for frying

6 potato rolls or hamburger rolls

Creole Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, pepper, and garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together the mayonnaise, egg, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, Cajun seasoning, hot pepper sauce, and paprika. Stir the cooled vegetables into the mixture and then gently toss in the crab to combine. Fold in 1 cup of the breadcrumbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Form the crab mixture into six patties, each about 1/2 inch thick. Coat with the remaining breadcrumbs and if not cooking right away, refrigerate for up 4 hours. (These are a little easier to cook when chilled, but it’s not necessary.)

In a large sauté pan, heat enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the crab patties. Heat the oil over medium-high heat or until a breadcrumb sizzles when dropped in the oil.

Gently lower the crab patties into the oil using a slotted spoon and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Serve on the rolls and top each burger with Creole Mayonnaise.

Note: To make fresh breadcrumbs, grind bread in a blender or food processor until it turns into crumbs. For more, see page 00.

Creole Mayonnaise

Makes a generous 1/2 cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

A few drops fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the mayonnaise with the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, Cajun seasoning, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if needed.

Use right away or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Who Doesn’t Like Crab Burgers? Or Crab Cakes?

Crab burger? Crab cake? Not much diff, really. But let me tell you: These burgers are G-O-O-D! Best of all for a summertime meal, they are actually better when mixed and formed early in the day when it’s cool, and then left in the ‘fridge until it’s time to cook them.

Here’s a picture of a crab boat from the Chesapeake Bay, where some of the best crabs in the country — the world! — come from. And, as I make my crab burgers with Cajun seasonings, we can ‘t forget the delicious crabs from the Gulf of Mexico that they are eaten all through Louisiana. Lucky people!

Image

Cajun Crab Burgers

What’s the difference between a crab burger and a crab cake? I am not sure there is much, but these are a little more robust than the crab cakes on page 00, and I serve them in nice soft potato buns, which work best with seafood burgers. I especially like the crab with the South Louisiana spices found in the crab mixture and the mayo. When making crab burgers or crab cakes, always start with the best crabmeat you can find and afford. And if you mix and form these ahead of time, not only will life be easier when it’s time to cook them, they will hold together a little better in the hot oil. To save even more time at the last minute, cook these ahead of time and reheat them in the oven, arranged in a shallow baking pan. And, p.s., the mayo is so tasty you will want to use it for other sandwiches and burgers, etc.

Serves 6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup minced onion (about 1/2 onion)

1/2 cup minced celery

1/2 cup minced green bell pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 large egg

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

11/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 pound lump crabmeat

11/2 to 13/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs (see note)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil, for frying

6 potato rolls or hamburger rolls

Creole Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, pepper, and garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together the mayonnaise, egg, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, Cajun seasoning, hot pepper sauce, and paprika. Stir the cooled vegetables into the mixture and then gently toss in the crab to combine. Fold in 1 cup of the breadcrumbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Form the crab mixture into six patties, each about 1/2 inch thick. Coat with the remaining breadcrumbs and if not cooking right away, refrigerate for up 4 hours. (These are a little easier to cook when chilled, but it’s not necessary.)

In a large sauté pan, heat enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the crab patties. Heat the oil over medium-high heat or until a breadcrumb sizzles when dropped in the oil.

Gently lower the crab patties into the oil using a slotted spoon and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Serve on the rolls and top each burger with Creole Mayonnaise.

Note: To make fresh breadcrumbs, grind bread in a blender or food processor until it turns into crumbs. For more, see page 00.

Creole Mayonnaise

Makes a generous 1/2 cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

A few drops fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the mayonnaise with the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, Cajun seasoning, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if needed.

Use right away or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Chilled Tomato Soup…You Won’t Find This in a Can!

When the tomatoes in your garden or local farmer’s market are at their seasonal best, make soup. Yup. Soup. There are lots of other ways to enjoy summer’s juicy gift, but this no-cook, chilled soup is outstanding.

Ahhhhhh! Summer.

Image

Chilled Tomato Soup

You may be familiar with hot tomato soup, specifically the famous soup sold in red and white cans from coast to coast, but if you haven’t tried the real thing, refreshingly cold, here’s your opportunity. Make this when the tomatoes are at their best in the markets or on the vine. The soup requires zero cooking and so could not be easier. Just let the ingredients mellow in the refrigerator for a number of hours so that the juices exude from the tomatoes, and then zap everything in a blender. Done! If you have access to heirloom tomatoes, all the better. It’s one of my all-time summer favorites.

Serves 4 to 6

 

3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into large dice

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

14 to 16 fresh basil leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup crème frâiche (optional)

 

Put the tomatoes, oil, vinegar, about 10 basil leaves, 2 teaspoons of salt, and garlic in a large glass, ceramic, or other nonreactive bowl. Stir gently, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 10 hours or overnight.

Process the soup in a blender in batches. Taste and adjust the seasoning with basil, salt, and pepper.

Garnish each serving with a swirl of crème frâiche, if desired, and the remaining fresh basil leaves.

Lamb on the Grill — Oh So Good!

I think lamb is one of the best meats for the grill. For some reason, it’s not thought of as readily as beef and pork, but I suggest you wait no longer. Give it a try! You’ll like it as much as I do — and that’s a lot.

Debra Ponzek

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Mustard and Garlic

If you like leg of lamb, you’ll love this simple, straightforward way of grilling it, boned and flattened—also called butterflied—so that it cooks relatively quickly over good, hot coals. I find it easier than roasting a bone-in lamb in the oven. I decided to bathe the lamb in a classic marinade made from mustard, red wine, and garlic, as well as some generous handfuls of fresh herbs. As it marinates, the meat soaks in this savory brew, which heightens its flavors. When it’s time to cook,  all you need to do is watch the meat for about half an hour as it grills. It’s important to take the meat from the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour before cooking; cold meat does not cook as evenly as does room-temperature meat. I like the lamb just as it comes off the grill, no sauce — but the mint-flavored mustard is wonderful with it, too.

Serves 8

10 garlic cloves

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 (5- to 6-pound) butterflied leg of lamb

3/4 cup Dijon mustard

3/4 cup red wine

1/2 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons herbes de Provence

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Minted-Honey Mustard (recipe follows)

 

Cut four of the garlic cloves in half. Roughly chop the remaining six.

Mix together the rosemary and mint.

Spread the lamb open on a flat work surface. Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, make eight small slits into the meat on the inside of the lamb. Stuff the halved garlic cloves into the slits. Spread the mixed herbs over both sides of the lamb. Transfer the lamb to a glass, ceramic, or other nonreactive dish large enough to hold it opened up.

Mix together the mustard, wine, oil, herbes de Provence, and the remaining garlic. Pour over the lamb, cover the dish, and refrigerate the lamb for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator about 1 hour before grilling. Wipe off the marinade and remove and discard the garlic halves. Lay the lamb on a clean platter and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Spray the grilling grate of a gas or charcoal grill with vegetable oil spray. Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Grill the lamb for 12 to 15 minutes on each side for medium-rare lamb: the internal temperature will read 145°F for medium-rare. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the butterflied leg of lamb and the desired degree of doneness.

Let the lamb rest on a cutting board for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing against the grain. Serve with the Minted-Honey Mustard.

garlicstock

Minted-Honey Mustard

Makes about 1/2 cup

 

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

2 to 3 tablespoons honey, or as needed

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves

 

Stir together the mustard, honey, vinegar, rosemary, and mint. Taste and add more honey if desired.

The mustard can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. Let the mustard reach room temperature before serving.

 

 

One of My Favorite Magic Acts

Looking for an easy summer hors d’oeuvre that will blow everyone away? Try these mini crostini. So, so good!

crostini tomatoes #4

Why magic? Because they disappear before your eyes!

Why easy? Toast the crostini and roast the tomatoes ahead of time (which makes them taste even better). Assemble when your guests arrive!

Why appealing? They’re pretty and colorful. And they taste great!

I don’t have a recipe for these, but that’s okay. Just halve a few pints of colorful cherry tomatoes (if you can find heirloom cherry tomatoes, use them!), toss them with olive oil, a drizzle of honey, fresh thyme leaves, and salt and pepper. Spread them in a shallow pan and roast in a 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until juicy and soft.

BEFORE ROASTING

crostini tomatoes #3

AFTER ROASTING

crostini tomatoes #2

In the meantime, slice a baguette into slices (between ¼ and ½ inch thick). Lay them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. The salt and pepper are key.and  mean the difference between good crostini and great crostini. Crisp the little toasts in the oven for a few minutes, just until lightly golden. Let them cool before using.

When the crostini are cool, spread them with soft ricotta (or use goat cheese if you’d rather) and then top with the roasted tomatoes, which can be warm from the oven or already cool. Watch them disappear in a matter of minutes! Amazing!

By the way, I saved a few of the seasoned tomatoes from last night’s batch and tossed them with some scrambled eggs this morning. Yum!

 

 

A Truly Great Breakfast! Perfect for Summertime!

My kids love breakfast for dinner — and I remember being very happy when my mom let us dig into pancakes or French toast for the evening meal when I was a kid. It’s always fun, and, honestly, why not?

And now that summer vacation is here, it’s even more difficult to get everyone to the table. Breakfast food will help.

These breakfast bruschetta are a little fancier than some breakfast dishes, but they are still simple as can be. And if you don’t feel like serving them for dinner, try them for breakfast!

 BLT brushetta3

BLT Bruschetta

Here are all my breakfast favorites piled on top of crusty sourdough toast: eggs, bacon, and tomatoes crowned with dressed arugula. Sophisticated enough for dinner and easy enough to make on the fly for breakfast. You will want to make these open sandwiches often. Scramble or poach the eggs instead of frying them, and if you’re not in the mood for eggs, substitute avocado. Outstanding!

Serves 4

 

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 slices bacon

4 Roma tomatoes, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices

4 slices sourdough bread, each about 1/2 inch thick  

2 ounces baby arugula (about 4 handfuls)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 large eggs

 

In a small dish, whisk together the mayonnaise and mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until crispy. Drain on paper towels and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. 

Drain the excess bacon fat from the pan and then put the tomato slices in it. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for about 1 minute on each side or just until softened.

Toast the sourdough bread slices and spread each with about 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise mixture. Top each with the bacon and tomato slices.

Meanwhile, toss the arugula with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spray a nonstick frying pan with flavorless vegetable spray and heat the pan over medium heat. When hot, crack the eggs into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the whites are opaque and the yolks are  warm but still runny. 

Put a fried egg on top of each bruschetta. Top each egg with a small handful of arugula and serve immediately.

 

Flank Steak on the Grill

I have featured this recipe before on my blog — but it’s so delicious and so appropriate for July, the height of grilling season, that I felt it was well worth running again.

I suspect you’ll agree!

Flank steak is one of my very favorite cuts of beef, especially for grilling. It’s leaner than some others but has amazing flavor and a pleasing coarse texture that is hard to find in other steaks. Sometimes called London broil, it’s a flat-ish piece of meat that can be stuffed and rolled, although most of the time I grill it flat out (the best way, if you ask me).

If you can’t find flank steak or want to try something a little different, try skirt or hanger steak. These two cuts are close to flank in terms of flavor and texture. Skirt steak is a long, flat cut with more flavor than tenderness. The same goes for hanger steak, which has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. The ungainly steak is also called butcher’s steak because, the story goes, the double-lobed cut connected by a particularly tough sinew was prized by butchers for its flavor even though its homely appearance made it tough to sell. While hangers are delicious when cooked right, I prefer skirt steak as a stand-in for flank steak.

All recipes for flank steak instruct you to “slice the meat across the grain.” If that directive baffles you, consider that the meat is made up of long, relatively tough fibers that must be intersected with a knife to shorten them and make the meat tender enough to chew easily. You can see these fibers in the meat. To cut a flank steak correctly all you must to do is slice it on the bias, the diagonal, across those long fibers.

Here’s one of my fave recipes. Happy grilling!

Image

Yogurt and Spice Grilled Flank Steak

Vermillion, a restaurant near Grand Central Station in New York City, serves flank steak with a yogurt–sour cream marinade that is really delicious. I came up with my own version and am pleased as punch with the outcome. The spices mixed with the tartness of the sour cream and yogurt blend perfectly with rich flank or skirt steak. Whenever you grill steak, it’s important to watch it carefully so that it does not overcook. You can always put it back on the grill if it’s too rare but you can’t retrieve its juiciness if it’s overdone.

The meat has to marinate for at least six hours, so plan ahead.

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup plain yogurt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground curry powder

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

2 pounds flank or skirt steak

 

Mix together the sour cream, yogurt, cumin, curry powder, garlic, and jalapeño.

Lay the steak in a glass, ceramic, or other nonreactive dish. Pour the marinade over the steak and turn it a few times to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Turn the steak once or twice during marinating.

Spray the grilling grate of a gas or charcoal grill with vegetable oil spray. Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Lift the steak from the marinade and wipe the excess from the meat. Grill the meat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare, or until done to your liking.

Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing across the grain and serving.

Summer Fruit Crisps — the Livin’ is Easy!

Nectarine and Blackberry Crisp

 

Store bought or homemade -- either one is delicious with crisps.

Store bought or homemade ice cream — either one is delicious with crisps.

Fruit crisps are my go-to dessert in the summertime when local fruits and berries are at their luscious, juicy best. Quick and easy, they can be made ahead of time, and there’s hardly a soul who doesn’t smile when you bring one to the table. This one, with its oatmeal topping, is especially effortless. What’s more, crisps are perfect paired with whipped cream or ice cream. Homemade ice cream is not necessary, but it would be divine!

Serves 8

Fruit filling
8 ripe nectarines (about 2 1/2 pounds), pitted and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1 1/2 cups blackberries (12 ounces)
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Oatmeal crisp topping
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. To make the fruit filling: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
2. Mix together the nectarines, blackberries, lemon juice and zest. In another bowl, mix the sugar with the cornstarch and then sprinkle this over the fruit. Toss gently to combine. Transfer the fruit to a 2 1/2-quart baking dish.
3. To make the oatmeal topping: In the bowl of a food processor, mix together the brown sugar, flour, rolled oats, and cinnamon. Pulse to mix.
4. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, pulsing after each addition. The topping should come together like wet sand.
5. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling hot and the topping is golden brown.
6. Serve the crisp hot or at room temperature.

Breakfast for Dinner; Dinner for Breakfast!

Just about everyone is happy to pick up a burrito and dig in. And when it’s an egg-and-cheese filled breakfast burrito, who cares if it’s suppertime? I sure don’t!

 

avocadostock2tortillasstock

Dinnertime Burritos

When you bite into this burrito packed with scrambled eggs, cheese, and avocado you’re getting a lot more than eggs for dinner. The substantial handheld meal can be customized to meet the tastes of your family or to use up leftovers, such as grilled or roasted veggies, brown rice, proscuito or chicken—even refried beans. If I have cilantro, I add that, and a heaping tablespoon of sour cream adds extra zip. When the burritos are chunky, the generous size of “burrito tortillas” makes them easy to roll and fold.

 

Serves 4

 

1 tablespoon unalted butter

8 large eggs, lightly beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 burrito-sized or soft-taco-sized tortillas

1 1/2 cup grated Cheddar or mozzarella cheese

8 slices ham, cut into thin slices

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

½ cup hot or mild storebought salsa (use your favorite)

 

In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat. When melted, pour the beaten eggs into the pan and stir them with a fork for 3 to 4 minutes as they are softely scrambled. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the tortillas in a sauté pan over low heat or in the microwave.

Lay the tortillas flat on a work surface and divide the scrambled eggs among them. Top with equal amounts of cheese, ham, and avocado. Top with about 1 tablespoon of salsa and roll up the burrito. Tuck in the ends and serve.

If not serving right away, keep the burritos warm in a 200°F. oven until ready to serve.

avocadostock2

 

Lamb on the Grill: Absolutely Delicious!

Debra Ponzek

 

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Mustard and Garlic

If you like leg of lamb, you’ll love this simple, straightforward way of grilling it, boned and flattened—also called butterflied—so that it cooks relatively quickly over good, hot coals. It’s far easier than roasting a bone-in lamb in the oven. I decided on a classic marinade made from mustard, red wine, and garlic, as well as some generous handfuls of fresh herbs. The time the lamb soaks in this savory brew heightens its flavors so that all you need to do is watch the meat for about half an hour as it grills. It’s important to take the meat from the fridge about an hour before cooking; cold meat does not cook as evenly as does room-temperature meat. I like the lamb just as it comes off the grill, but the mint-flavored mustard is wonderful with it, too.

Serves 8

 

10 garlic cloves

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 (5- to 6-pound) butterflied leg of lamb

3/4 cup Dijon mustard

3/4 cup red wine

1/2 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons herbes de Provence

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Minted-Honey Mustard (recipe follows)

 

Cut four of the garlic cloves in half. Roughly chop the remaining six.

Mix together the rosemary and mint.

Spread the lamb open on a flat work surface. Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, make eight small slits into the meat on the inside of the lamb. Stuff the halved garlic cloves into the slits. Spread the mixed herbs over both sides of the lamb. Transfer the lamb to a glass, ceramic, or other nonreactive dish large enough to hold it opened up.

Mix together the mustard, wine, oil, herbes de Provence, and the remaining garlic. Pour over the lamb, cover the dish, and refrigerate the lamb for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator about 1 hour before grilling. Wipe off the marinade and remove and discard the garlic halves. Lay the lamb on a clean platter and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Spray the grilling grate of a gas or charcoal grill with vegetable oil spray. Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Grill the lamb for 12 to 15 minutes on each side for medium-rare lamb: the internal temperature will read 145°F for medium-rare. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the butterflied leg of lamb and the desired degree of doneness.

Let the lamb rest on a cutting board for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing against the grain. Serve with the Minted-Honey Mustard.

Minted-Honey Mustard

Makes about 1/2 cup

 

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

2 to 3 tablespoons honey, or as needed

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves

 

Stir together the mustard, honey, vinegar, rosemary, and mint. Taste and add more honey if desired.

The mustard can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. Let the mustard reach room temperature before serving.