Sunday, July 15, 2007

Classic Maryland Style Soft-shell Crabs

I love 99 Ranch! This grocery chain has become my go to place for seafood. I am always on the hunt for crabs and can usually find them, but the quality is sometimes questionable and I don’t want to spend a small fortune to get them. 99 Ranch to the rescue! My latest find has been frozen soft-shells from Vietnam. The price was around $17/dozen and they were a pretty nice size, about 4-5 inches. That’s relatively cheap. They were really pretty and fresh looking. Clean white meat, bright blue shells, I almost thought they would start to move, which kind of gave me the creeps. Best thing is that they are individually wrapped and already cleaned. First dish I wanted to try was pan-frying them in a seasoned coating. This is my standard for making soft-shells. Of course it has Old Bay in it.

6 fresh or defrosted soft-shells
1-11/2 c flour
1/8-1/4 c Old Bay Seasoning
2 eggs beaten
1/2-3/4 c Canola Oil
1 tsp water

(Sorry about the measurements on this. I add to it, as needed, because sometimes you need more coating and oil for frying)

1. Pat the soft-shells so they are relatively dry.
2. Mix the flour and Old Bay together and put on a plate for coating the crabs.
3. Whisk the eggs and add a little water to thin out. Place on a separate plate for dipping the crabs in.
4. Coat the crabs, one at a time, into the egg and then the flour mix. This will be a thin coating. Set aside on a plate till ready to fry. Don’t wait to long or the coating will start to break down.
5. In a fry pan heat the oil and when a drop of water sizzles in the pan place the crabs’ shell side down into the oil. Watch out, as the oil will splatter.
6. Fry for about 3-5 minutes and flip gently when golden brown and fry the bottoms for another 3-5 minutes.
7. Drain the excess oil off on a paper towel and serve with lemon wedges.

I made the dish shown above with a side of red chard from the garden that I diced and quickly sautéed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Zucchini Bread with Basil and Golden Raisins

It was bound to happen. I have too much zucchini growing in the garden. All of it sprouted from the soil without any interference (or encouragement) on our part! I must admit that this year’s crop is delicious. The squash has a light creamy flavor. Sautéed in olive oil results in a buttery taste and texture. I think we ate zucchini with every meal for a week and actually didn’t tire of it. I obviously have zucchini on the brain if I happened to notice that one crop we picked happened to look like a value scale. I guess it’s the artist in me!

Last year I experimented with a zucchini bread that wasn’t too sweet and more interesting then just zucchini. I know the classic odd pairing is zucchini with chocolate, but I wasn’t after a dessert bread. So here is my take: Zucchini Bread with Basil and Golden Raisins! It bakes up beautifully. Stays very moist and not too sweet.

11/2 c flour
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 c Canola Oil
2 large eggs; beaten
1/2 c sugar
1/12 tsp vanilla
1 lb zucchini coarsely shredded
1 cup fresh basil; shredded
1/2 c chopped golden raisins

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a parchment lined loaf pan. Mine is shiny metal not the black heavy kind.
2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients.
3. In another bowl combine the wet ingredients except for the zucchini, raisins and basil.
4. Fold the zucchini, raisins and basil into the wet ingredients.
5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Do not over mix.
6. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes or until a skewer pulls out cleanly from the center. Remove from pan and let cool.