Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Authentic Maryland Crab Cakes


This recipe was a great use of our leftover crab after our homemade steamed blue crab lunch we all feasted on yesterday.  It's super easy and now our favorite crab cake recipe to date.  We've found that simplicity is key to the perfect crab cake.  We took direction from a couple of different recipes and our good friend, Pete, who like David, is originally from Maryland.  Any crab connoisseur knows the best steamed crabs and crab cake recipes originate from Maryland.  Pete made us the best crab cakes that David and I've ever tasted over 12 years ago, back when we all were neighbors.  Those crab cakes made quite the impression on us because we're still talking about how amazing those were.  I think we did a good job of trying to replicate Pete's rich, but unbelievably delicious.

1 - 1/2 cups blue crab meat
11 saltine crackers (you can use Ritz crackers for an even richer, butterier tasting crab cake, however, we prefer saltines)
1 egg beaten
1 TBSP mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp Worcestershire
1/8 tsp Old Bay seasoning
salt  and pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter
Tartar sauce (recipe to follow)

Carefully check the crab meat for any cartilage. Put meat in a bowl and set it aside. 

Crush the saltine crackers very fine and mix with all the other ingredients. Gently fold in the crab. Only mix enough to combine ingredients. You don't want to break up the crab into fine shreds. Shape into 4 crab cakes, an ice cream scoop helps make same-size servings.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

Heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan. Sauté until golden brown on each side. This will only take about 3-5 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle a tiny bit of Old Bay before serving.  Garnish with tartar sauce, remoulade and/or lemon slices.

Tartar Sauce
1/4 cup Hellman's mayo
2 - 4 TBSP pickle relish
1 dash Old Bay
1 dash lemon pepper
1 dash celery seed
1 TBSP grated or finely chopped onion
1 - 2 dashes of Tabasco
juice and zest of 1/4 to 1/2 a lemon

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 TBSP chili sauce
1 TBSP Creole mustard
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 - 1/2 tsp Louisiana-style hot sauce, or to taste
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 medium scallions, chopped
1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
1 TBSP minced celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Mix together mayonnaise, chili sauce, mustard, olive oil, hot sauce, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in scallions, parsley, celery and garlic. Season with chili powder, salt and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate.

Grilled Garlic Artichokes with Wasabi-Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce

We had this at one of our favorite restaurants, Tei Tei Robata Bar, served with a fabulous wasabi mayonnaise dipping sauce.  We couldn't wait to try this on our own and when we did we were very pleased with it's outcome.  At Tei Tei they served their artichokes with a fabulous wasabi-mayonnaise dipping sauce.  Or it's equally as good served with a lemon butter as well.  Very rich in flavors and now this might be my favorite way of preparing artichokes.

6 small artichokes
2 lemons, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
wasabi-mayonnaise dipping sauce or lemon butter (recipes to follow)

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Squeeze the juice from one lemon into the water. Trim the tops from the artichokes, then cut in half lengthwise, and place halves into the bowl of lemon water to prevent them from turning brown.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat.

Add artichokes to boiling water, and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain.

Squeeze the remaining lemon wedges into a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil, butter and garlic; season with salt and pepper.

Brush the artichokes with a coating of the garlic sauce and marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Place them on the preheated grill. Grill the artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, basting with dip and turning frequently, until the tips are a little charred. Serve immediately with the remaining dip and either or both of the following for a dipping sauce.

Wasabi-Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise
4 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp wasabi paste or 3 tsp wasabi powder

Whisk together mayonnaise, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, and wasabi paste until sugar is dissolved.

Lemon Butter

1 stick of butter
2 - 3 lemons
salt and pepper

Melt butter.  Add juice of 2 - 3 lemons depending upon size and your taste.  Stir in salt and pepper.

Monday, January 14, 2013

David's Easy, Individual Servings of Paella

Over the weekend David had the brilliant idea of making individual servings of Paella and to simply simplify what can be a very complex recipe.  He absolutely did that and more. What David prepared for us last night was the BEST Paella I've ever tasted...AND it couldn't have been any easier to prepare.  This is an exotic dish that is sure to please most everyone.  Thank you my sweet love for always sharing your creativeness with us all!

6 individual tin bowls, greased with a little olive oil
2 packages Vigo Saffron Yellow Rice 10 oz each
1-1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (a store-bought rotisserie chicken works well)
3 - 4 chorizo sausages, taken out of casings, browned with some chopped onion
24 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (save the shells)
1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup green pepper, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
12 saffron threads steeped in broth
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
Lemon wedges

Bring the saved shrimp shells to a boil in the chicken broth to help make a fish-like stock.  Simmer on low for 10 minutes or so.*

In the meantime layer the rice in the tin bowls, top with a little chicken, chorizo, onion, pepper and 4 shrimp, divided evenly into each bowl.  Pour stock over each serving, again dividing evenly.  Submerge 2 saffron threads into each serving.  Cover with  heavy foil and place on a grill preheated to medium.  Cook for about 30 minutes, keeping a close eye that the Paella bowls aren't browning too much and that the desired "crust" is formed.  Plate each serving by turning each tin upside down into a bowl garnishing with chopped parsley.  Serve with lemon wedges and Tabasco on the side.

*Usually when we make a stock of any kind we add a few whole pepper corns, a couple of whole cloves, a little chopped onion, celery, carrots and garlic.  But the point of this recipe is to make it easy, so this process can be ignored entirely. 

**You could freeze individual servings for up to 6 months to make for a quick-fix, homemade meal.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sherri's Rocky Road Candy

This treat is a chocolate lover's dream come true!  I share this recipe with you that has been passed down from one of my sisters, Sherri.  I don't know that she knows this but I make RRC every Christmas.  It's super easy and is sure to cure any sweet tooth anyone might have.  Put RRC in pretty Christmas and holiday tins to give as gifts to neighbors, co-workers, etc...I sometimes double the recipe to make for bigger pieces of pure wonderfulness.  I share this recipe with lots of love and happy wishes to all of you for the New Year!!  BRING ON 2013!!!  God Bless you all!!

12 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
2 TBSP butter
1 - 10 1/2 oz. package tiny marshmallows (this is 5 - 1/2 cups and I usually don't use this much)
8 oz. unsalted roasted peanuts

Combine chocolate chips, condensed milk and butter over low heat until melted.

In a large bowl combine marshmallows and peanuts.  Add chocolate mixture.  Line a 9"x13" pan with wax paper.  Pour mixture into pan and chill for at least 2 hours.  Break into pieces or cut into small squares.

To a Happy New Year

Well, the holidays have come and gone and now comes the time in our lives when we make all of those wonderful New Year's Resolutions.  One of my New Year's Resolutions this year is to get back to my blog and share newly discovered recipes as well as old family classics.  David and I are as passionate about food as we ever have been and we look forward to stepping out of our comfort zone again and trying some creatively new and amazingly tasty dishes. 

In the meantime here's a brief background on what's been going on in the McQuaid household the last year...

Because we're complete gluttons for punishment, we adopted two lab puppies, Ryder and Layla, about a year ago. I've mostly been occupying my time with them and have not been very adventurous in the kitchen and therefore I haven't been blogging much at all.  Although, we're still cooking all the time, we've mostly been cooking up our family favorite comfort foods, like pho, roasted Cornish hens, cowboy steaks, homemade sushi, boiled crawfish, crab, or lobster, etc...  

As far as our kids go, Avery's loving life in college at CU Boulder and is thriving there...who wouldn't in such a cool town?  Cassidy continues college at Brookhaven and has admirably been working two jobs and saving money with the hopes of moving out on her own soon.  Dylan still enjoys playing  guitar and has been playing hockey for several months now, and it's amazing how quickly he's picked up the sport.  I respect how committed he is to always wanting to learn more.  With our nest quickly emptying, it's absolutely all the more reason to be celebrating life, family and friends.  What better way to do just that than with lovingly prepared food that we can all enjoy together.  

David and I cherish our date nights (or lunches) together where we will dine at Bolsa, Tei Tei, Javier's, Dalat, Ziziki's, Aw Shucks, Angry Dog or Herrera's to name a few favorites...there's definitely no shortage of incredible restaurants in Dallas.  Along with fabulous food, David and I will never tire of seeing live music, especially with the music scene in Dallas being so vibrant and diverse, so many great venues and so many great local bands.  

We're about to celebrate my beautiful Mom's 85th Birthday...she is truly an amazing lady.  She's still going strong, working out at Curves most everyday, she's always making us laugh and has the biggest heart of anyone I've ever known.  I want to be just like my Mom when I grow up.  :-)  In December David's parent's, Tom and Sara celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with close family and friends traveling from as far as France and all over the US.  What an inspiration Tom and Sara are to us all.  The McQuaid's are such a special, tight-knit family because of the two of them and the love they represent.

As of November I landed a fabulous job with a fantastic team and I've met some really interesting people that will be my lifelong friends.  I'm so appreciative for this unique opportunity and to be a part of the revitalization of Downtown Dallas.  What an exciting time it is for our great city.  

Unfortunately with life there comes the heartaches as well.  I have to mention that this time last year we lost our beloved golden retriever, Bailey. What a beautiful friend and family member she was to us all and will be greatly missed...she will remain in our hearts forever.  RIP sweet, old, Bailey Boo!!

Words cannot express how proud I am of our family and all that everyone has accomplished!!  I love you all so much!!  Here's to a very Happy 2013!! xoxo