Southern Style Crab Cake Melt with Cheddar, Remoulade, and Roasted Asparagus

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Happy Tuesday!

I apologize for not posting; I’ve been overwhelmed between preparing to move, ending my school year, and so on. But no more excuses–I am here to stay!

I prepared this recipe yesterday to help my neighbor Jennifer with her “Surf and Turf” themed Memorial Day party. She was dead set on us making a ceviche, but I know that I am not one that likes to experiment on a large group of people. The little experience I have with ceviche tells me that I should 1.) get the freshest seafood ever and 2.) I need enough acid/time to marinate the fish. And so, I encouraged her to let me go with one of my favorite things to eat instead…crab!

I love crab cakes, crab legs with drawn butter, soft-shell crab, she-crab soup, or a crab gnocchi bake; Zach and I could devour Snow Crab, in particular, for days. Crab has such a distinct sweetness and flavor that it is totally undeniable. Crab cakes are definitely a weakness of mine, but they’re often…mediocre. I’ve had them out and have been disappointed. They can be dry, loaded with fillers (and thus, very little crab), and quite frankly, unaffordable for the average person dining out.

It’s one of the more expensive items you can purchase in a restaurant, and it may be an item you are afraid to make yourself because..

1.) It’s costly–chicken, anyone?

2.) It’s seafood–frightening for some.

But trust me when I say it isn’t that scary at all! And while I agree it’s not the cheapest meal to make, it’s so worth it. For this recipe, I use good quality canned crab (Phillips’). Yes, you could use fresh crab. Sure, you can cook your own crab and pick them to pieces, but you’ll die of starvation by the time you’re finished. Good quality canned crab is appropriate for this dish!

You should make this if you’re a crab lover and/or you’re looking to impress. Even if you’re not entertaining a few guests, this recipe can be easily even made for a single person (yes, you read that right), so that you can make yourself a 15 minute meal that tastes divine.

Now I have a “holiday” crab cake recipe I make, and I also make a salmon cake that is similar to the recipe I am providing here. This crab cake melt, however, is less fuss. When you’re cooking for a crowd, you don’t want complicated. You want tasty and easy, and this is perfectly that.

From all my experiences making seafood cakes (I’ve made tons), the best base has…

1.) Creamy components (Mayo, Sour Cream, and/or Remoulade)

2.) Butter Crackers (Like Club or Ritz)

3.) Sautéed Diced Peppers and/or Onions

Sure, you can make a deep fried one with typical breading (Panko or Italian-Style), but I don’t think that does anything to actually accentuate the natural taste of the crab cake. I personally (and for this recipe) broil, not fry the crab cakes. The flavor is much more prominent, and I believe the crushed cracker breading approach creates the right texture.

Now what heightens this dish (without taking away the excellent seafood flavor) is the cheddar that is melted. This crab cake melt, as the name implies, involves smothering the crab cake in gooey cheese on top of a split English muffin. It’s amazing! The first time I had a Crab Cake Melt was in Downtown Wilmington, NC. Not only was it fantastic, but it was only $9.99 at an awesome place called Paddy’s Hollow.

For the price of two crab cakes at the aforementioned restaurant, you can serve a hearty appetizer for 12, so let’s get started! Again, this recipe can easily be scaled down to a romantic meal for two, so don’t feel the need to invite company over…

Because I doubt you’ll want to share. 🙂

Ingredients for Side Dish: Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 bunch of fresh Asparagus
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Ingredients for Remoulade (Make first to add to your crab cake mixture!)

    • 3 cups mayonnaise (or sour cream!)
    • ½ cup Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
    • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (I like Cholula!)
    • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend** (optional)
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
    • 1 tablespoon ketchup, plus more if needed
    • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
    • 2 tablespoons chopped capers
    • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
    • 2 tablespoons finely diced celery
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 1 tablespoon finely diced green onion tops
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for Crab Cake for 2 (Multiply most ingredients by 6 to create 12!)

  • 2.5-3 ounces of lumped crab meat (canned)
  • 3 tablespoon of sour cream (or mayo)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (Cholula or Sriracha works for me!)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/6th of a sleeve of Club Crackers, crushed finely (if you’re making for 12, use a whole sleeve)
  • 1 beaten egg** (for 12 servings, I only needed 2-3 large eggs to bind!)
  • 3 sliced and diced jarred roasted sweet bell peppers OR 3 sliced and diced sweet MINI bell peppers (you must sauté beforehand) FINELY DICED
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons of homemade Remoulade (P.S: If you don’t have time, you can buy this, too–but fresh is best!)

For serving…

  • 1 split English muffin (or 1 package of English muffins for company; I recommend Thomas’ English muffins)
  • 2 slices of Cheddar cheese

 

Directions for Side Dish: Roasted Asparagus

  1. Slice off woody ends of fresh asparagus.
  2. On a sheet pan, evenly spread out asparagus. Coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Once oven is preheated to 400 degrees, cook for 10 minutes. Do not cook it any longer than that! If you’re serving this for company, cook the asparagus last.

Remoulade Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise or sour cream. Whisk in the mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, seasoning blend, paprika, lemon juice, and horseradish. Add the ketchup and whisk together. Add more ketchup as needed to get the pink coloring necessary.
  2. Once the color is achieved, add in the garlic, capers, relish, celery, parsley, and green onion. Stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Crab Cakes Directions

  1. First, slice and dice your sweet bell peppers very finely. If your peppers are not jarred (in other words, fresh peppers), sauté them in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire. Stir until soft and fragrant. Put aside to cool–do not add to mixture until cooled as you are adding them to eggs! You don’t want scrambled eggs, do you now? 🙂
  2. Once the peppers are cooled (or if they’re jarred, simply diced), add them to a bowl. Next, add the canned crab, hot sauce, Dijon mustard, mayo/sour cream, beaten egg(s), and remoulade. Over the sink, pulverize your cracker sleeve finely. You may use a food processor if you don’t feel like smashing the crackers yourself. Tip: Use your index finger and thumb to break up large pieces! Once the crackers are crushed, add them to the mixture. Stir lightly to combine; don’t overmix! Make sure your mixture looks nice and moist. If it doesn’t look super moist, add a little bit more remoulade, sour cream, and Dijon mustard.
  3. Next, split your English muffins in half. Toast your English muffins about halfway.
  4. Once the English muffins are toasted, place sliced cheddar on the bottom of each English muffin half.
  5. On top of the cheddar, scoop out a generous amount of crab cake mixture  that will eventually be distributed on each English muffin slice. You don’t have to shape it with your hands–simply plop on top.
  6. **Alternatively, you can place the cheddar on top of the crab cake depending on how particular you are about presentation! If the cheese slice is too large, you’re better off putting the cheese on the bottom.
  7. When ready to serve (and remember, these can be made ahead), broil for about 10 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Serve with remoulade on top!

 

 

 

Fried Chicken and Belgian Waffle Sliders with Arugula, Tomato, and Avocado and Maple Dijon Sauce

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Happy Sunday!

So I have this tradition I’ve had for quite some time since I’ve lived on my own…I make waffles on Sunday. Some people find solace in attendance of church services, others take long drives–me? I make waffles. It gives me a sense of inner peace, and it’s something I look forward to by the week’s final end. My fiancé bought me an awesome Waring professional Belgian waffle maker for my birthday last year, and I have used it religiously with utter delight. I am a lover of brunch with champagne, and I think that to be a proper brunch host, I just needed to have a solid waffle maker. Thanks, Zach!

I made my Belgian cuties as usual today for my love and me…except it’s just two of us, and I slipped by making extra batter. It was probably the best mistake I made today. The worst mistake I made was going to Michael’s (the crafts store) thinking that I could only buy one thing…ugh. My credit card is officially whacked for the month. 🙂

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I could eat these for the rest of the week, but that might get old. I decided to make them as sandwiches…genius! I recalled a Pinterest post and thought that today would be the day to give it a go. I didn’t follow the recipe for the waffle batter like they specified as I used my waffle recipe from this morning. The recipe in the Pinterest post is excellent for a savory waffle, so when you go make this yourself, feel free to use that one, but just know that you don’t necessarily need a savory waffle for this awesome sandwich. I believe the chicken, avocado, tomato, and arugula add enough savoriness, but to each their own!

If you are a southerner, or if you have a southern palate, you know how amazing fried chicken and waffles is. It’s a wonderful balance of sweet and savory, and it’s an excellent brunch item as it encompasses the best BUTTERMILK items. Ladies and gents–I do require you use buttermilk for your chicken, and preferably also for your waffles. Buttermilk does absolute wonders, and it is my secret weapon for today. Tip: If you don’t feel like running out and buying buttermilk, you can always add a little vinegar to regular milk and bam! The chemistry experiment will suffice as your vice.

This recipe is relatively simple, but if you have time on your side, go for the overnight yeast waffles versus my fast waffles (especially for breakfast). They are both good, but the yeast waffles are superb.

Same thing for the chicken–it’s best to let the chicken marinate in buttermilk overnight, and dredged so that the outside dries out and the inside remains moist (you know, the crispiest fried chicken ever.) Time is your friend, but if you’re short on time, you can always take short cuts. Heck, you can even buy fried chicken to not make a mess. I just won’t allow you to make Eggo waffles in lieu of a homemade batter. If you do want simple box mix, I like to use Aunt Jemina in a pinch. But please, let go of that EGGO. 🙂

This post is going to look really long, but that’s because I included three options for waffles. First, pick your waffle you want to make. I offer the savory version that has cheddar and scallions from Candid Appetite, my easy waffle, and my overnight waffle (which is great when time is on your side.) They’e all good–it just depends on your need.

After you make your waffles, then work on your chicken.

Lastly, ASSSSSSEEEEMMMMMBBBLLLEE!

STEP ONE: Waffle Batter Ingredients and Instructions (Pick One!)

Savory Version from Candid Appetite:

Ingredients

2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (55 grams) light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon (8 grams) baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons (6 grams) baking powder

½ teaspoon (4 grams) salt

2 teaspoons (14 grams) freshly cracked black pepper

3 large eggs, room temperature

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. In a large bowl stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and black pepper. Make a well in the center of the bowl and set aside.
  3. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk together. Pour into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter and buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon, stir the waffle batter until just combined. It should be sightly lumpy. If the batter appears to be too thick, add a splash of buttermilk and stir until pouring consistency is reached. Fold in the cooked chopped bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions.
  4. Lightly grease the waffle iron with cooking spray or melted butter. Pour in about ½ cup batter in each waffle cavity, more or less depending on size of waffle iron. Cook until the waffles are golden brown and crispy.

Easy Weekend Waffle from Lei Mangia :

2 cups  flour

4 teaspoons  baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon  salt

1⁄4 cup  sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

2 eggs (you could separate yolks from whites, whip up whites until fluffy and add to batter if you have time, but again it’s the easy waffle!)

1⁄2 cup of Canola oil

2 cups milk (but buttermilk, preferably!)

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Separate the eggs.
  4. In small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.** (or to make it simple,  don’t separate the eggs–the whites will make your waffle fluffier, though.)
  5. Mix together the egg yolks, milk and oil and stir slightly.
  6. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
  7. Fold in beaten egg whites.
  8. Put 2/3-1 cup of waffle mixture in the center of the waffle iron. Do not close your iron until all the mixture is properly distributed! Cook for about 5 minutes (depending on your waffle maker’s setting.)

Perfect Overnight Belgian Waffles (Based off of Barefoot Contessa and modified by Lei Mangia):

½ cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees) 
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast, at room temperature 
2 teaspoons sugar 
2 cups lukewarm whole milk (90 to 100 degrees) 
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
plus extra for the waffle iron** (Or use cooking spray like Pam)
2 tablespoons honey  (I usually leave the honey out–it’s up to you!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 extra-large eggs 
¼ teaspoon baking soda 

Instructions: The night before, combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a very large bowl (the batter will expand enormously).

  1. Allow it to stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast dissolves and the mixture has started to foam, which tells you the yeast is alive. Stir in the milk, butter, honey*, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit overnight at a cool room temperature.
  3. The next morning, preheat a Belgian waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions and brush the top and bottom with melted butter (or use cooking spray, which is easier).
  4. Beat the eggs together with the baking soda and whisk them into the batter until combined.
  5. Pour just enough of the batter onto the hot waffle iron to cover the grids (1/3 to ½ cup each, depending on your waffle maker), close, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat, until the waffles are golden brown. Remember: It’s always best to go on a lighter setting and leave it in longer versus overcooking!

STEP TWO: Make Your Finger Lickin’ Chicken!

1 pound chicken breast cutlets, cut in half

1½ cups buttermilk

1 tablespoon of hot sauce, optional (but recommended, and I love Cholula!)

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

canola oil for frying (fill a cast iron skillet!)

Instructions;
  1. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Cover with buttermilk and add the hot sauce, if using. Toss together until evenly mixed and all the chicken is submerged in the buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have the time, this step is not crucial but it will help make the chicken tender and juicy. You can leave it up to overnight, which if you’re doing this ahead, I totally recommend!
  2. In a shallow dish combine the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper.
  3. To coat the chicken, grab a piece from the buttermilk bowl, slightly drain off, and throw into the flour.
  4. Pat the flour into the chicken, on both sides. Return to the buttermilk bowl (with the rest of the chicken) and coat both sides.
  5. Place the chicken back into the flour, once more, and coat both sides. We’re double dipping the chicken. Lay the coated chicken on a rack placed over a baking sheet. Repeat in this manner until all the chicken is coated.
  6. Allow the coated chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes, this will allow the fry to dry a bit and stick to the chicken.
  7. In the meantime, heat about 2 inches of oil in a heavy duty pan, such as a cast iron skillet.
  8. Once the oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches. Cook for about 5 minutes on the first side, turn over once golden brown and crispy, continue to cook for another 4 minutes on the other side.
  9. Drain the chicken and place on a separate rack set over a baking sheet. You can keep the cooked chicken warm in a 200°F oven until all the chicken is fried and you’re ready to serve.

Or, you can buy fried chicken and save yourself the fuss. 🙂

STEP THREE: Assembling Your Sandwich

Ingredients

1 cup of arugula

1 thinly sliced tomato (preferably off the vine)

1/2 slice of ripened avocado

1/4 cup of pure Maple syrup

3-4 tablespoons of Dijon Mustard

Prepared Waffle and Chicken

The Finale…

  1. Take your waffle and divide it into sections (mine has four sections per waffle which makes two sandwiches per waffle.)
  2. Slice avocado and tomato. Rinse arugula.
  3. Mix maple syrup and Dijon mustard together to create sauce.
  4. Put thin avocado slices on the bottom piece of the waffle.
  5. Place chicken on top of the avocado. Drizzle sauce.
  6. Put sliced tomato on top of avocado layer. Put a half a handful of arugula on top of the tomato. Slightly dress the arugula with more sauce.
  7. Place another waffle piece on top. You may use a toothpick to keep it together, if you like.
  8. Eat! You may need a knife and fork, but that’s only half the fun. 🙂

 

 

Pulled Pork and Smoked Gouda Cheddar Mac and Cheese with a Panko Parmesan Topping

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Happy Monday!

Zach always wants macaroni and cheese. This past weekend in particular, he told me to make some. I haven’t made this Gouda Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese in over year; apparently, the last time I made it was around Valentine’s day. I say that’s too long for this decadent goodness. Who doesn’t love this childhood cult favorite? You know, the southern side dish that immediately increases waistlines upon impact?

I will tell you this–this macaroni and cheese recipe is a lot more work than its blue box counterpart, but this recipe makes plenty and is so rich. It’s worth it–otherwise, I wouldn’t post it! You’ll get at least ten heaping servings, and I made this only for Zach and me. You guessed it–I’ll be eating macaroni and cheese for the rest of the week. I am certain this is illegal. This is made with butter, heavy cream, milk, and four cheeses (cream cheese, cheddar, smoked gouda, and parmesan.) To me, the smoked gouda comes out the most flavor wise, the cream cheese helps smooth the sauce over, and the cheddar helps round out the gouda. This was made very diet conscious indeed…

This would be great to make for a potluck or for a holiday  I am sure between Lent and New Year’s that everyone will be craving something fattening!) I love the topping; the crunchy Panko and the salty Parmesan truly work wonders with the melted butter. I am not always a fan of macaroni and cheese with a topping, but this one does the trick. The flavors here are also more complex through the use of sautéed onions and (optional) bacon. If you don’t use bacon, that’s fine–just make sure you make pulled pork. There’s something about barbecued foods that make this mac and cheese really shine. If you don’t feel like making pulled pork, feel free to go to a reputable barbecue joint by you; Zach and I love Mission BBQ for a chain.  Again, if you want to just make the macaroni and cheese by itself, that’s fine too, but the hint of BBQ sauce that seeps through does pull this dish together.

Get Jiggy With It
The ‘Roni
  • 1 box of Rotini macaroni, cooked and drained (or any other pasta you want to use, like elbow)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 1¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
  • ½ lb smoked gouda cheese, shredded
  • ½ lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz cream cheese, cubed
The Topping
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 4-6 slices bacon crumbled *** (optional!)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup bacon crumbled** (optional!)

Jazzercise For Your Thighs!

  1. Prepare your macaroni according to package directions. Set aside in a large pan (9X13 or larger would work!)
  2. Do your prep work! Shred all your cheeses (except parmesan and cream cheese). Dice your onion.
  3. In a large pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Saute chopped onions until translucent and just starting to caramelize.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and sprinkle in flour. Next, whisk until mixed with butter and onion. Cook on medium heat for one minute. You need to form a roux.
  5. Combine milk, cream and broth in a large measuring cup and add all at one time to mixture in pan. Whisk over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Mixture will thicken considerably. If it doesn’t thicken, raise the heat a bit until it does so, and then lower it once it bubbles up.
  6. Add salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Then you should reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the cheeses to the pan and stir to thoroughly combine.
  8. Add cooked macaroni to cheese mixture and stir to combine; reduce heat and cook on low for 5 minutes for everything to meld together and get hot. Smooth top.
  9. Combine panko bread crumbs, melted butter, bacon and Parmesan cheese together and mix well. Sprinkle over the top of the noodle casserole and broil the dish until the top is just starting to brown. Mine broiled in less than five minutes–so make sure you keep your eye on it!
  10. Devour politely. 😉