Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crab Benedict

While Michael and I were on vacation in South Carolina, one of our favorite places to eat was Toast , in Charleston. His favorite dish was Eggs Meeting Street...it reminded me a lot of Eggs Benedict, only with crab cakes and fried green tomatoes. He enjoyed that so much that I planned to try to come up with something similar...minus the tomatoes.

One day I was watching Paula Dean on the Food Network...she was preparing breakfast foods and one of her recipes caught my attention...Crab Benedict. She made it look easy...even easy enough for me to attempt. The whole thought of making a hollandaise sauce and poaching eggs had me feeling a bit intimidated but she made it look so easy that I decided to give it a try. So I printed off the recipe and forgot about it for a while.

I was going to Michael's for the weekend, actually his birthday weekend, and was going to do a good bit of cooking so before leaving, I packed the Crab Benedict recipe along with my other cooking supplies. I knew I was making crab cakes and would save a few to prepare Crab Benedict.

Monday morning, I decided to attempt making this meal. I was a little nervous preparing this since I've never made or eaten hollandaise sauce or poached eggs. I had to make the hollandaise sauce twice...the first time egg yolks were scrambled...the second time, it was perfect. My first poached egg had to be tossed but the other three worked out well...one egg..the white started to separate from the yolk so I took that one and gave Michael the two nice ones...once it was covered in hollandaise, it looked pretty good.

I didn't follow her recipe, exactly...she made a crab salad (which looked very good and that I plan to prepare in the future), where I used crab cakes, but I did exactly as the recipe said for the hollandaise sauce. So after two attempts at the sauce, one poached egg in the trash and one emergency run to the grocery for more eggs (thanks to Michael), the food was plated and ready to eat. If I do say so myself, it did look yummy (sorry no pictures, but I was too stressed and didn't even think about pictures until after we had eaten). I couldn't wait to try it but was sadly disappointed after my first bite. The sauce was sour....horribly sour; I was not at all happy. Poor Michael took it like a man and ate every bite of the two that I had plated for him....not saying a word, even when I said something about the sour taste. He eventually admitted that it was a bit tart but not bad...the man must have a cast iron stomach.

The next day, I posted a question on BakeSpace about my hollandaise sauce, asking if it was supposed to taste sour and telling them that I had used the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 T of white vinegar in the sauce as the ingredients and directions said. Both DD and Karen wrote back and said it shouldn't taste sour and that they had never heard of putting vinegar in hollandaise. So we came to the conclusion that this had been a misprint.

I will attempt making Crab Benedict again and use the same recipe, omitting the 1 T vinegar...I may even make the crab salad instead of crab cakes. I think it's definitely worth a second try. I promise pictures next time too...

Here is the recipe...as I said before, I substituted crab cakes for the salad and used toasted English Muffins instead of the cheesy biscuits and as you can see, I've removed the offensive vinegar from the sauce ingredients and directions.

Crab Benedict

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2008

Prep Time: 20 min Inactive Prep Time: hr min Cook Time: 15 min Level:
Easy Serves:
4 servings

Crab Salad:
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups lump crab meat, picked free of shells

Hollandaise Sauce:
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons cream
4 large tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 lemon, juiced
Dash cayenne
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar

Poached Eggs:
3 cups water
1 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
Parsley, for garnish
Cheesy biscuits, to serve

For the Crab Salad:
In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for the crab and red peppers. Gently fold in the crab and peppers. Reserve.

*Cook's Note: When mixing the crab and peppers, be careful not to break up the crab too much.

For the Hollandaise Sauce:
Combine all ingredients, except the vinegar, in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water. Whisk until thick, approximately 3 minutes; set aside until ready to use. Do not reheat or cover the pot. Thin, if needed with a little chicken broth.

Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a low simmer in a medium saucepan.

Crack an egg into a small ramekin and gently slide the egg into the water. Crack another egg into the same cup and while the water returns to a low simmer, slide the second egg into the water. Repeat. Let lowly simmer until the eggs are set. This will take about 2 to 3 minutes for soft runny yolks. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate.

To Plate:
Top a cheesy biscuit with a poached egg. Add a small scoop of crab salad on top of the egg. Spoon the hollandaise over the egg and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Crab Cakes

Michael and I met, via Internet, on November 2, 2008 and it didn't take me long to realize that he liked seafood and especially liked crab cakes. It seemed as though whenever we would talk on the phone, he had just finished eating crab cakes, or was getting ready to eat them for dinner. On our trip to the Carolina's, while in South Carolina, he usually ordered a meal that had some type of crab in it, and more often than not...you guessed it, it was crab cakes. Then and there I decided that sometime I was going to make some crab cakes for him.

Not being a seafood lover myself, I felt mystified at preparing anything that wasn't poultry, beef or pork. One day, while shopping in Williams-Sonoma, I picked up a Crab Cake mix...I thought this would be an easy way to make them, and they should be good. I was afraid if I tried something from scratch, it could be a failure. I left the box of mix at Michael's and finally on Sunday, got around to making them.

I looked everywhere trying to find Jumbo Lump Crab...I found some on the shelf at Kroger, but wanted something a little more fresh. I was shopping at Jungle Jim's one day and went into their seafood shop and found a 1 pound can...it was in the cooler section and said it was to be kept refrigerated. So, I packed it in my cooler and took it to Hilliard with me. I wish I could remember the brand of crab that I bought...the crab was very nice indeed. I'll buy it again sometime and post the name.

Sunday night, around 9:00 PM, I decided to make the crab cakes. I had been trying all weekend and something always came up. Actually wanted to make them for Michael's birthday on Saturday, but ended up going out to dinner with a few members of his family. Anyway, I opened and drained (I was impressed because there wasn't much to drain) the crab then proceeded to follow the directions on the box....that was the easy part. The box of crab cake starter consisted of two packages of bread/seasoning mix and two packages or panko crumbs...this way you can make crab cakes using 1/2-1 lb. of crab. When I tried to make the crab and bread/seasoning mixture into patties, I couldn't get them to hold together....needless to say, when I tried to turn them in the pan, they fell apart. I was not at all happy! Michael kept saying that it wasn't important as long as it was good. Not being someone who likes to cook, he doesn't understand that we want the food we prepare to look nice as well as taste good. Around the time I tried making the fifth cake, they started staying together, so I ended up having several crab cakes...intact. Michael and I sampled some of the ruined cakes and both decided this mix was quite tasty.

The next time I make crab cakes, and there will definitely be a next time, I want to make them from scratch, although I will pick up another box of this mix when I'm in Williams-Sonoma, to keep on hand for a quick meal...it was delicious. That says a lot coming from a meat and potatoes girl.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tropical Fruit Cake

I had this cake for the first time at work. One of the girls I work with found it on the Taste of Home site and decided to share it with us. We all really liked it. I had it again at my family reunion last July. My niece, Pam, had made it, substituting low/no sugar and low fat ingredients...it still was delicious. Michael liked it a lot! So I decided that I would make this cake for Michael's birthday and since he's diabetic, would make it as sugar/fat free as possible.

Thursday, Michael and I went to Giant Eagle to do our grocery shopping for the weekend and I decided to get the ingredients for the fruit cake. I couldn't find a sugar free cake and couldn't find fruit in it's own juice, but did get the light syrup style, I used sugar free pudding and light Cool Whip.

This is a very good cake...light and fruity tasting. As much as I like icing on cakes, this Cool Whip version is a nice change...not as sickeningly sweet.

1 yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1 can mandrin oranges (use liquid -- (11 oz.)
1 regular size Cool Whip
1 large can crushed pineapple - I think it was about a 15 oz can (use liquid)
1 small pack pecan chips
1 package reg. size box instant vanilla pudding -- (do not mix up the pudding just pour it in dry)

Heat oven to 350

Mix cake mix, eggs, oil and oranges for about 2 minutes with mixer on lowspeed
Pour in cake pan (make sure to grease and flour pan or use PAM spray)
Bake 25-35 minutes, cake is done when inserted toothpick comes out clean

Mix ingredients for icing well, spread on cooled cake and sprinkle pecans on top, then refrigerate.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Bacon Barbecued Beans

Several weeks ago, after my trip to Pittsburgh, I was still wishing I had gone to the strip and shopped at some of the stores, especially the Penzey's Spice store. I had always wanted to purchase their spices but was hesitant to order them online or through the catalog....don't ask me why, I've ordered other things that way with no problem. Anyway, I went online and was searching their site when I decided to check the store locator. I remembered that they had at least one store in Ohio but wasn't sure where it was, but knew that it wasn't in Cincinnati. I was surprised, and excited when I saw that there were two stores in Ohio, one in Cleveland and one in Columbus...not only was it in Columbus, but it was only about a 20 minute drive from Michael's apartment....and I even knew its approximate location. I had just been on that road in June when I had taken Michael to the hospital to visit his brother Bob. So, the last time I was in Columbus I asked Michael to drive me to Penzey's. I was in heaven....I could never have imagined such a store...filled with more spices and herbs than I could ever have wanted plus cookbooks, their latest catalogs and some free recipes next to some of the different spices. I picked up a few jars of spices along with a jar of BBQ 3000 and the two recipes that were nearby.

I've tried all kinds of baked beans, canned and pork and beans that other people have doctored up and although they may be good, I've never been excited about their taste. Nothing has ever tasted as good as my mom's baked beans. Those have been a favorite of mine, and a few other members of my family and friends, ever since I can remember. That recipe will be in a future post. Today, while at Michael's, I decided that since I had a taste tester, I would try the Bacon Barbecued Beans recipe that I had picked up at Penzey's.

1/2 lb. bacon, diced (can use turkey bacon for less fat)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans (15 oz.) great northern beans, drained and rinsed (the recipe called for one can of great northern beans and one can of black beans)
1 tablespoon BBQ 3000 or Barbecue of the Americas (both Penzey's blends)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat for 3 minutes.

Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until the onions are soft and the bacon is browned. Drain off any excess bacon drippings.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer thebeans for 15 minutes. Can easily be prepared in a crockpot.

This recipe was a lot easier to prepare than my mother's baked beans and I thought they tasted very good...some of the best I've had, although, not my mom's. Even though they were good, there seemed to be something missing...not sure if they needed a little more sugar and/or ketchup so will add a little more the next time I make them. Of course, they may taste better when I re-heat them tomorrow...so many things do. Michael liked them, he even had a couple spoons full before I put them away.

This is definitely a keeper!

*Update....August 24*
Michael says that he wants me to make a double batch next time. That's good sign!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pittsburgh Cookover

The weekend of June 26, 2009, Michael and I went to Pennsylvania to a Bakespace meet-up. Last year a few of us from the Breakfast Club forum got together in Richmond, IN and had a wonderful time. This year Karen was kind enough to offer her home for the weekend for a gathering of BakeSpace members. Members from the Breakfast Club and Happy Hour met at her house on Friday night and Saturday afternoon for good food and conversation. We came from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. I saw a few people I had met last year; AnnMarie, her husband Jim, DD, and Jennifer. This year I got to make some new friends, some from the Breakfast Club and some from Happy Hour, Karen and Dan (our hosts), her mother Margaret (we all loved her), Marguerite, Martha, Cara and Michele. Jennifer brought her sister Kathy, DD brought her husband Jim and Michael came with me.

Friday afternoon, after several delays, Michael and I arrived at the Comfort Inn in Washington, PA , unpacked and rested a bit then headed out for Karen's house. After stopping along the way to purchase some Coke and Diet Coke, we easily found Karen and Dan's lovely home. We were supposed to be served pizza but they had gone all out and prepared a delicious meal, including some recipes of BakeSpace members who couldn't join us. Since most of us had to travel such a long distance, we didn't prepare any food but each of us gave Karen a hostess gift. I gave her some Ohio wine, a box of Cheryl & Co. Cookies and a box of Buckeyes....all Ohio companies. Michael and I had a great time seeing my old friends and meeting new. After we ate and visited for a while, we helped clean up and then went back to our hotel.

Correction, most of us didn't make anything. DD out did herself once again and made a beautiful cake for our gathering. It was too lovely for me to describe. For more on her cake and her posts about the Cookover, check out DD's blog - DDPiesSlice

Saturday, before going to Karen's, we went to Cannonsburg, Pa and stopped at Sarris Candies. Ann and Jim had told us about this on Friday so I told Michael that we needed to stop in. Oh my goodness, that place was wonderful! Michael bought a box of chocolates for Karen that were made in shapes of sewing supplies (she had made us all aprons, so he thought she would like this) and before leaving, we had some ice cream.....yummy. We decided that we were coming back before heading home on Sunday.

We arrived at Karen's that afternoon, along with the basket I had prepared for the basket swap. We had decided earlier that we would all bring a basket that was filled with items from our state or something that represented who we were. My basket consisted of food made in Ohio along with a deck of Miami University playing cards. Karen, again had prepared a ton of food, we ate and chatted, even talked to Babette and some of the BakeSpace members online and via web cam. Later we exchanged our baskets...Karen got mine and I got one from Cara, one of the girls from New Jersey. The basket swap was a lot of fun....it was almost like Christmas, going through them and seeing what each of us had received. Another wonderful time, eating and drinking too much....we hated to see it end, but unfortunately it ended all too soon. I can't wait until we get to do another one.

Sunday, we loaded up the car to head back to Ohio, stopping first in Cannonsburg for more ice cream and to purchase some candy. I definitely want to go back to PA. DD posted on her blog about visiting the strip and I feel like I missed a lot by not going there, so plan to see that if I get back that way again.

The Cookover was covered in the local paper


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