Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Maryland Style Soft Shell Crabs

 
First you run them under cold water, then you trim off their little faces and next you pull their lungs out!
EEEEK!!!  Tender loving words re-iterated by my Mom, while teaching me the process when I was a kid.
"How to clean a Soft Shell Crab"!
 
So do you know how to clean the beautiful, delicate Soft Shell Blue Crab?  Better  yet, have you ever cooked a few and savored its deliciousness?  An important part of the process to stack the perfect Soft Shell Crab Sandwich you need to slice a big, fat juicy tomato in a thick kinda way, then slather on some mayo and slap it on - yes.."Wonder Bread".  This is nothing but pure joy!
Such a beautiful Sea Creature.   I love to saute' them in butter til it's shell is golden crisp.  No flour - just sear that gorgeous velvety soft crabby-ness,  this my friends is a delicacy extraordinare!
 
Well anyway, I was scanning the fresh Seafood Market in my neighborhood the other day and my eyes fell upon 3 perfectly gorgeous little Soft Shell Crabs.  I asked to touch them...yes, I did ask that question.
I proposed a deal to the Store Clerk, I told her I would just touch with the tip of my finger so I could feel if it was actually a SOFT CRAB, and I would use a piece of wax paper as the health safety barrier.  One  small bit of pressure on this little Darlin' and it was very evident.. we had scored the Mega Score!  The perfect Soft Shell Crab, so exciting.  Eighteen dollars later, gave me 3 little Soft Shells to go... so worth every penny.
 
The Crispy Soft Shell Crab Recipe:
 
A couple of Soft Shell Crabs - cleaned and ready to go
A dash of Old Bay Seasoning 
3 Tblsp. Butter
Red Tomato
Your favorite Mayo
 Wonder Bread
 
Over medium heat add the butter to a large saute' pan. Allow the butter to melt until bubbly.  While waiting clean your  Soft Shell Crabs, then rinse under cold water, dab dry with paper towels, then dust with just a bit of Old Bay .  Once the butter is bubbly place the crabs in the saute pan, over medium heat.  Cook about two minutes on each side or until crisp.  Place the crabs on the white bread that holds the mayo and tomato..  Cut sandwich in half and take a big bite of those little tender Feeler legs that will be dangling off your bread.
OMG DELICIOUS!!
 
Read onward for some interesting INFO about SOFT SHELL CRABS!!.
 SOFT SHELL CRAB PIX in the  "alive state".  As you can imagine holding a hard shelled crab in bare hands could be a bit painful!   When it's a Soft Shell Crab their exterior is as soft as velvet.
    Thanks About.com for a great reference picture.
 
So again, I'm giving you INFO from a researched source which was BLUECRAB.COM.  These folks made it
oh so easy for me to explain! 
 
Blue crabs periodically shed their smaller shells through a process known as molting. The soft-shell is the blue crab in its molted state which is abundant in supply from late spring to early fall
 
Blue crabs are invertebrates meaning they lack a spinal column. Instead, the blue crab has a rigid exoskeleton (hard shell.) The shell grows in discrete stages interspersed by molting, but the growth of internal tissue is more continuous. In order for the crab to grow larger, it must periodically shed its smaller shell through a process known as molting.   Early in its molting cycle the crab slowly begins to form a new soft shell underneath its existing hard shell.
 
When a blue crab has grown sufficiently to require a larger shell, the following events occur
Molting hormones are released.
** This time frame is known as the "Peeler" stage.  Hence in this stage they are called PEELER CRABS
  • The hypodermis detaches from the existing hard shell. The hypodermis is a layer of cells directly beneath the shell.
  • The hypodermis produces enzymes which begin to dissolve the shell components. Much of the existing shell is recycled causing it to become thin. Inorganic salts are resorbed from the shell and stored internally.
  • A new inner soft shell slowly forms underneath the existing shell. When this new shell has fully formed, the crab will be ready to molt.
  • The crab stops eating and seeks shelter in order to avoid predation. During this process the crab is highly vulnerable to predators, including the two-legged variety!
This time frame, is known as the "Buster" stage.  Hence in this stage they are called  BUSTER CRABS
  • The hypodermis detaches from the existing hard shell. The hypodermis is a layer
  • The crab rapidly absorbs water which causes its tissues to swell and split the old shell open across the back between the lateral spines. Fracture planes in the claws split open to allow the claws to be pulled through.
  • The crab begins the slow, arduous process of backing out of its old shell, which is then discarded.
  • The newly molted crab pumps water into its tissues in order to inflate the shell to its new size. The new shell will be roughly one-third larger (33%) than the old shell. The new shell reaches its full size within six hours after molting.
This time frame is known as the "Soft Shell Stage".  Hence in this stage they are called  SOFT SHELL CRABS!  YEAAA!
  • The salvaged inorganic salts are rapidly re deposited to help thicken and harden the new shell will only harden in water (the hardening process stops if the crab is removed from the water) and will take approximately two to four days to fully harden.
Over time, as the crab slowly grows inside its new shell, tissue water is replaced with protein. Once there is no more room left to grow inside this shell, the whole molting process starts over again.
Note that some people mistakenly believe that a soft crab is completely different species of crab. As you have just learned, this is not true.
Also note that many people believe that a full moon yields larger catches of soft crabs This belief is reinforced by the fact that most commercial harvesters claim to see an increase in peeler/soft crab abundance before and after a full moon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cashew Cranberry Brownies

Admit it.  Sometimes a "boxed mix"is just as good or better then a from scratch recipe!
This statement just sooo holds true with Ghirardelli Brownie Mix.  I am insanely in LOVE with the Dark Chocolate mix offered by Ghirardelli!! 
Oh wait... let me set the record straight here!!! I have not in anyway been contacted by the Brand, nor am I promo'ing it.  This just happens to be my most favorite and my families favorite Brownies ever!   You seriously need to give it a whirl.  I guarantee you perfect, moist, rich delicious Brownies!
I whipped up these gems to send along with my husband for his co-workers which just happen to be overseas at this time!  YEA... these delicious chocolate delights are traveling 1/2 way around the world on a jet plane, as I speak.
I jut know the "guys" are gonna love this combo of Cashews, Cranberries, White Chocolate Bits and moist delicious Dark Chocolate Brownies!!  So YUMM.  The Cranberries add a nice tartness to the chocolate richness.
The recipe is on the side of the box and is super easy.  I did substitute cashews for the recipe item of pecans...simply because that's what I had in my kitchen cabinets.  Tweek it, you will love it.  Enjoy - enjoy!!!
Cathy
HAZZARD IN THE KITCHEN!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Space Coast Stars & Veggie Nights‏

 
 
Hi!
 
Sometimes you just want QUICK & EASY, that's why I created this recipe.
As you will see it's an easy recipe that let's you ADD too or minus from making it your own creation.
 
Have fun with it.  Add some chicken slices as a possibility or additional fresh veggies and spices.
 
For now - happy cooking!!
 
    Cathy


 10 Minutes Or Less  

Description: Teeny tiny little Star shaped Pasta makes for a super fast, complete Side Dish.
You will soooo enjoy the crisp texture of Snow Peas, Carrots and Red Onions on this bed of tiny Stars, dazzled with a delicate Citrus Cream Sauce.  
Wah La! – under 10 minutes & your good to go!

Note: This dish can easily be changed to a Vegetarian Dish with just one simple alteration!


Ingredients

2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth {room temperature}
1 Cup Pastina {Barilla Brand pasta}
½ Cup Milk
2 Ounces Softened Philly Cream Cheese {you can use 1/3 rd Fat brand, or Original or Spreadable}
1 - 10 Ounce package of Bird’s Eye Steam-Fresh Spring Vegetables in Citrus Sauce
1 Lime
1 Tblsp. softened Butter

In large sauté pan on high heat bring chicken broth to a boil {about 2 minutes}.
While waiting for the broth to boil, put your bag of Steam Fresh Veggie’s in the microwave for 6 minutes, following directions on the bag for steaming.  Once chicken broth comes to boil stir in your cup of Pastina, reduce heat to medium-high after you have stirred in the Pastina.  Stir occasionally, being careful to not allow the Pastina to clump together. Note- if it seems most of your moisture has been absorbed, go ahead and toss in a few tablespoons of warm water.
Suggest you set your timer.  Pastina should be al dente in 5 to 6 minutes.  While your waiting for your veggie’s to finish in the microwave and your pasta to cook, put your softened cream cheese in the food processor,  {a mini-food processor can also do the job} let it whip for a few seconds then pour in the milk slowly while processor is continually running.  Once milk is incorporated, Add the lime juice of one whole fresh lime.  Whirl for a few seconds and your cream sauce is ready.  Hope you haven’t forgotten about stirring the Pastina while whirring that food processor!  : }.  At this point stir in the tablespoon of butter to the Pastina.
“Bing” goes the microwave; your veggie’s are ready.  It is best to let your Steam-Fresh bag sit 1 minute before carefully opening the package.  Meanwhile plate your Pastina.  Now pour the veggies directly over top the Pastina.  Drizzle your dazzling Citrus Cream Sauce over the center length of your veggie’s.  It s Side Dish time & your done!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

King's Chef Diner

It makes me smile that the Hazzards are Food Machines.  True Foodies.  It's no secret the love of food is passed down within the ranks of a family.  I am from a family of great cooks and it began with my Mom.  My  8 brothers can all cook, some better then others, some are sensational cook's, and some are in the Food Industry.  My two sisters are also Wiz's in the kitchen, and our eyes roll back in our head over great deserts!  We all pay homage to great food and fabulous cooks.  Praising verbally and always in multiple statements how much we are enjoying the food. 
This Hazzard Clan of mine loves to call or text one another and discuss in length the next recipe they are creating,or one in which they just simply consumed.  Elaborating about the colors, the flavors, the textures, the deliciousness, how we wish we could have shared it together that very moment.  We are always planning our next food encounter.  Often that planning stage takes place while we are still enjoying a meal!  Yeah, we are Foodies with a capital F.  Savoring every delicious morsel, analyzing what secret spice we think is in a particular dish we have tried.  We are like Kitchen Scientist.. trying the tasting formula over and over again, until we have the ingredients figured out. 

So you see it should come as no surprise to you that our vacations require intense planning around places to eat.  And that my friends is where King's Chef Diner comes in to play - located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It's an eclectic  joint with great energy and fun Servers and Cooks. Phenomenal food!  Huge portions, all served with their home made Green Chile Sauce on the side, or heaps of  fresh jalapeno slices.  Reasonable prices, and a Clean Your  Plate Club Sticker when you finished every bite.  That honor went to my husband the skinniest guy in our group!  This 6ft.'3, 184 lb guy finished his plate of a giant Reuben sandwich stacked 5 inches high layered with fresh jalapeno's and a side of home fries.   He then methodically finished my other 1/2 of sandwich which was Corned Beef and Swiss with mustard and jalapeno's on rye bread plus fresh sliced fries.  He ate it all, each bite better then the first.  But the piece de' resistance went to my daughter Kates meal, which consisted of the juiciest 14 oz. hand cut sirloin steak I ever tasted, plus two eggs, homemade hash browns and Texas Toast.  The price tag on this magnificent Mama Jama was $13.95.



The surprising moment of this days Brunch went to my son Jonathan who ordered the 1/2 lb. custom burger of angus beef with bacon, cheese onion and smothered in a giant layer of jalapeno's.  This was a mountain of delicous-ness that made you wonder how anyone could wrap their mouth around such a tall bite.  the burger was cooked to perfection of medium rare just juicy and dripping wonderful-ness!!
Let me NOT forget the sinfully creamy, cheesy-cheese fries.  Each fry was the perfect crisp bite on the outside, soft potato on the inside and each one dripping in melted cheddar  Talk about delicious. If you ever find yourself in Colorado Springs you must stop by for a full delicious belly of food from King's Chef Diner! 
So my friends when in Colorado Spring be sure to put Kings Chef Diner on your To Do List.  We did and so did Food Network.  We are all in agreement you won't find a better breakfast or lunch anywhere..bring your BIG pants, you're gonna need em!!
Sharing pix of our great food experience @ Kings Chef this summer, while on our Fierce Cross-Country  Bike Road Trip!  Hazzard Road/Food Warriors ROCK!!.
Kings Chef Link