Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 14.56.01

My Favorite Home Grown Tomato Recipes

Home grown tomatoes or even those grown at your local farm have a succulent and sweet quality that make any dish feel like something steeped in the flavors of summer - even when it's nearly autumn. Two relatively quick and fairly easy recipes are my favorite soup that my mom makes, Julia's Gazpacho, and Angel's Broiled Tomatoes. Both are lovely side dishes or starters or can be a light lunch when paired with fresh mozzarella and a baguette.
Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 20.43.35

The Great Dinner Caper

Life is all about stopping to smell the flowers, right? What about taking time to stop and eat the flowers? This week, you can give it a chance by cooking with capers. These small flower buds come from a Mediterranean shrub and have been a staple in regional cuisine for thousands of years. These shrubs can also be found in parts of Africa, Asia, Italy, southern France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, and Morocco. Buds vary in size from delicate small ones (nonpareils) to large ones (not to be confused with caperberries which usually have seeds and a stem). While closed, the caper shrub’s flower bud is hand picked then pickled to create the tangy flavors that are synonymous with the capers available jarred in grocery markets. They are packed in salt or brine to preserve the buds, making them a bit salty and deliciously tart. Customize your capers with Julia Child’s wise recommendation to replace half of the jar’s brine marinade with vermouth. This is also possible to add a little punch to green olives destined to be in martinis. Capers are an international affair. Their pickled nature makes them easy to transport worldwide so countries from the Mediterranean to the Arctic to the Panama Canal may incorporate capers into their cuisine. This week, travel to Europe by enjoying Frikadeller Patties. A few countries have variations of this recipe, using different meats and shapes to make it their own. For decades, my family has enjoyed this light and delicious European burger of sorts. Pasta Puttanesca bring Italy to your table as the sweet scents of the sauce waft through the air. Surprisingly simple, the vegetarian sauce holds up to variations and reheating. Travel the world without leaving your kitchen with the charm of capers in international cuisine.
Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 15.53.54

I’m Not Crabby, but My Dinner Is

You know it’s crab season when the nice table linens are replaced with yesterday’s newspaper. Anyone living within a day’s drive of the Chesapeake Bay has a special appreciation for crab that is only paralleled by France’s passion for cheese. These days, Maryland-style crab cakes pop up on menus from Toledo to Tucson. Personally, I’d much rather try that city’s specialty, but I like knowing the crab cake has fans from sea to shining sea. Blue Crab is the usual choice for Mid-Atlantic cuisine since the crabs have taken a liking to the Chesapeake Bay. The Blue Crab also has a fancier name, Callinectes sapidus. The first part means beautiful swimmer in Greek and the second part means savory in Latin. Though Blue Crab is local, many other types of crab (eg, Dungeness, Snow, Alaska King) are available thanks to the marvels of modern-day shipping efficiency. In general, all crabs should be eaten within 24 hours if raw or live and within 48 hours if cooked. Whether it’s a hot day or a chilly evening, this week’s recipes pay homage to the savory Blue Crab. Without hesitation, the Chesapeake Crab Cakes are the first listed in the column and the first to disappear from a dinner plate. If you can’t get to Chincoteague Island or Maryland’s Eastern Shore, then this recipe will take you there! Cool off with Crab & Avocado Salad, which has a tangy citrus dressing that is barely there so you can enjoy the natural flavor of the crab with the smooth avocado to balance out the spice. A crab column wouldn’t be complete without Maryland Crab Soup. This recipe went through rigorous critiques to become what it is today. Turn a snack or appetizer into a seaside experience with Kathy’s Crab Puffs. Easy to make, they’re an instant crowd pleaser.