Zucchini “Crab” Cakes (GF,DF)

 photo IMG_0567.jpgIt would seem that I am not the only gardener overrun by zucchini this year, and I’m with most of the gardeners who responded to my last post; I’m delighted to have this problem of what to do with all of my zucchini. A few years ago a pal of mine posted a recipe on her Facebook page during the height of zucchini season. I was intrigued by the simplicity of the recipe and by the ingredient list which includes Maryland’s favorite spice mix, Old Bay Seasoning.

And so I began my usual process of fiddling, seeing how far I could move within the recipe while achieving the desired results. Over time I’ve adapted my friend’s lovely summer recipe and it is a zucchini staple in our house. While I won’t say that these actually taste like crab cakes (because my mother and many other Marylanders would be appalled by that idea), the flavor of these babies SUGGESTS crab cakes and they are just darned tasty crab facsimile aside. If Old Bay is not available in your area (I nearly passed out when I couldn’t buy it in California years ago), look for spice mixes intended for steamed spiced crabs, but be sure they don’t include super large chunks of spice as many shrimp boil spice mixes do OR try a homemade version like this one. Continue reading

Summer Awesomeness Fritters

What to do, what to do….  I really like to cook.  More importantly, I really like to eat.  But even I, with my pretty broad palate and spirit of culinary adventure, run into a case of the “I Don’t Knows” every once in a while.  When this happens to me, I take a good long look in the fridge.  What is in there that is either 1) so fresh that I will hate myself if I don’t eat it while it’s awesome OR 2) a little long in tooth and must be used now before it becomes a science experiment?  Better still, what to do when you’ve got a little of both?  This was my conundrum. My reluctant zucchini plants produced a couple more squash and while picking them I realized I hadn’t yet used the last surprise squash (powdery mildew is a pain in the patootie).  While I dug out the less fresh zuke, I came across some cobs of grilled corm from two nights prior – now that’s not going to get tastier there in the crisper.  What to do with this varied bounty?  Why, fritters, of course.  I’m so glad you asked.

I came across this little beauty while searching for “kid friendly zucchini” recipes.   Frankly, the idea of kid friendly zucchini is hysterical to me as mine will not touch it in any form in which it is recognizable, thus the recent zucchini stealth move on the mac ‘n’ cheese, but I’m always willing to believe that someone has gotten their child to eat a vegetable that mine won’t.  So I was game for the fritters, but of course I had to mess with the recipe, because who wouldn’t?  Ok, maybe a lot of people wouldn’t, but if you’ve been here before you realize that I simply don’t follow the recipe, ever.  Sometimes it’s a matter of stupidity and disorganization (a recent cashew cheeze debacle comes to mind), but most of the time it’s just orneriness.  And so Ms. Music, I see your Kid Friendly: Zucchini Fritters, and I raise you a whole mess of corn and a few other bits to reveal (drumroll, or something…)

Summer Awesomeness Fritters with Tomato and Avocado – makes enough for several adults for one meal or two adults for one dinner and a few lunches

    • 5 c shredded zucchini, drained
    • 1 c grits (I used semolina, but would use grits or coarse corn meal next time)
    • 1.5 c whole wheat flour
    • .5 c all purpose flour
    • 1/4 c nutritional yeast or parm
    • 1/2 t Old Bay seasoning
    • 4 t salt (or less if you’re not like me)
    • 1 t baking powder
    • 4 eggs (I used flax)

  • 2 c buttermilk (I used soured almond milk)
  • 2 c corn (preferably leftover amazing grilled corn)
  • 1.5 c fresh chopped tomato
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil
  • 1 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 avocado cut into pieces
  • drizzle rice vinegar
  • drizzle balsamic

Prep Notes: Shred your zucchini, either in a food processor or using a grater.  Place in colander or sieve and salt lightly.  Allow to sit (in the sink) for at least fifteen minutes.  Your zucchini will drop a lot of water and your fritters will be lighter and better cooked through than if you skip this step, trust me. If you’re making flax eggs, this is a good time to go ahead and get on that as well.  Soured almond milk?  Sounds gross, yes, and frankly, it wasn’t pretty, but it did the job.  I used a 2c measure, put 2 T of white vinegar in the bottom and then filled to 2c with UNSWEETENED PLAIN almond milk.  Got all curdly and separated a bit, still worked just fine and tasted superb (I mean in the fritters, no I’m not that hardcore, I did NOT drink the soured almond milk).

In a large bowl, combine flours, yeast or cheese, Old Bay and salt.  For those of you who aren’t from around these parts: if you haven’t heard of Old Bay, I am VERY, VERY sorry.  It is a seasoning mix that is used in this area  mostly in seafood dishes, and in particular on steamed blue crabs.  If you don’t have any in your area (and again, this would be VERY sad), I imagine you could sub out some other spice blend intended for the steaming of seafood. You could also leave it out, but you’d be missing out on some awesome.  Stir to combine.  If you’ve not cut the corn off the cob, go ahead and do that to give the zucchini some more time to drain.  Press the top of the pile of zucchini to release more liquid.  I’ve even gone so far as to wrap it in a tea towel at this point and squeeze more liquid out… this was probably unnecessary, but kind of cool to see.

Add eggs and butter or soured milk to dry ingredients.  Stir to combine without over mixing.  Add zucchini and corn and gently stir to distribute.  Let rest for 10 or 15 minutes.  Cook as you would…  if you know what I’m about to say, you’ve been here before… pancakes.  For me this means a cast iron skillet on medium with vegetable oil heated in the bottom. Flip when firm on edges and some bubbles have formed.  Cook in batches and keep warm in oven.

While cooking fritters, assemble avocado tomato goodness by combing the remaining ingredients.  Serve fritter with tomato avocado goodness on top sort of helter-skelter – ilke so:

Delish. A big bite of summer in every forkful. As for kid-friendly… not so much for us, but that meant I got to have more for lunch.

Carni-Mom Feeds the Troops Crabcakes

My poor carnivorous mother.  How did the T-bone fall so far from the tree?

The whatever it is that fell from the tree doesn’t even look like a T-bone anymore… more like an artichoke, or a glob of spirulina, or an apple!  And it happened twice.  Our mother has always been a meat lover of the sneak-a-raw-bite,-savor-the-organs,-suck -the-marrow variety.  So how did she end up with daughters who lean vegetarian and are both experimenting with raw foods?  Well, I’ll tell you.

I don’t know.

Perhaps a case of nurture over nature? or of nature over nurture?  I’ll stick with I don’t know.

In any case, she still loves us, even with all the beans, and has happily sampled all our dinner offerings this week in all their grainy, vegetabliciousness.

She enjoyed our plant based meals but also wanted to provide us with one of her specialties.  Carni-Mom wondered if we would be willing, or able, to consume either fried chicken or homemade crabcakes, both of which she does really well.

Luckily, Mom asked me about this fleshy dilemma on the phone, so Little Sis had no say and I was able to shout, “Crabcakes” quickly and unequivocally.   I explained that if Little Sis didn’t want to eat crabcakes I’d make sure there were lots of vegetables to satisfy her and would help eat her portion of the crabcakes.  I know, pretty self-less.

Despite my self-lessness, Little Sis ain’t no dummy and she wisely decided to eat her share… as did everyone (except the picky twin) with relish.  (Not really with pickle relish – not even tartar sauce or cocktail sauce necessary for these bad boys.)

Oh boy oh boy!

So here is the recipe my wonderful Carni-Mom uses to produce golden, lumpy, zippy bits of scavenger meat.  No shelling required on our part.  Thanks Mom!

Carni-Mom’s Crabcakes (adapted from the Old Bay Seasoning tin)

1 lb. crab meat
8 single saltine crackers (Carni-Mom used gluten free this time – thanks again Mom!)
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
chopped fresh parsley (couldn’t pin her down on an amount – about a third of a handful was the best we could do)
1/2 tsp. yellow or dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten

Smash crackers into small pieces.  Mix in everything but the crab meat.  Stir in crab meat.
Shape mixture into patties.

Only 12 minutes til chow time!

Broil 6 minutes each side.
Eat quickly enough to get seconds, but not so fast that you don’t truly savor this wonderful thing.
Thank the cook.

It has been one of the blessings of this week spent together at the beach to both give and receive food that is nourishing, often new, always tasty, and of course, seasoned with salty air and laughter.  Wishing you the blessing of healthy and savory gatherings with friends and family!