How to Throw a Summer Crab Boil Party

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“The best way to eat crabs, as everyone knows, is off newspaper at a large table with a large number of people.” Laurie Colwin

A crab boil is one of the easiest summer entertaining parties to host.    Low on stress and high on fun, I make mine even easier by ordering the crabs already cooked, encrusted in Old-Bay style seasoning and picked up piping hot, right before guests arrive. Where we live these red-shelled beauties are Maryland blue crabs from the Chesapeake.  Their Latin name, Callinectes sapidus, means beautiful swimmer. Their flesh is sweet and succulent and they are in season now.  Aren’t they gorgeous? Continue reading

Chilled Soba Noodle Salad

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If you are looking for a really different pasta salad for your summer entertaining, this is the one!  Made with soba noodles, it boosts interesting texture, complex flavors, loads of vegetables, protein from tofu and peanuts and beautiful color.  It can totally be made ahead of time and will hold up well on the buffet table.  Don’t like tofu?  You could substitute shredded chicken breast or cooked shrimp. Adding edemame would boost protein and be a great addition too.  The recipe was recreated by my friend Christine who is a guest blogger today. She enjoyed the salad at famous chef Lynn Crawford’s Ruby WatchCo Restaurant on a trip to Toronto.  Christine brought it to a recent potluck where it was a hit.  The recipe feeds a big group.  It looks complicated but it really is not:  cooked soba noodles are tossed in a great honey-ginger dressing.  To that are added shredded veggies, sautéed tofu and marinated cabbage.  To finish, the salad is topped by crunchy peanuts and pea shoots.  It is worth making and leftovers, if you’re lucky enough to have any, will keep for a few days.  Dig in!

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Chili-rubbed Game Hens with Scallions, Sweet Potatoes and Chimichurri

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For many years, I have dreamed of travelling to Mexico.  Not to the beach resorts, but to Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende to take in the culture, the art and the stunning architecture. A special birthday was recently celebrated in this magnificent country.  The people were welcoming, the cuisine truly delicious and the art and architecture, spectacular.

I created an oven baked sheet pan dinner with some Mexican flavors that could make a wonderfull Cinco de Mayo dinner.  Game hens were roasted over a bed of scallions with sweet potato rounds and served with a zesty chimichurri sauce.  Can’t say it is authentic Mexican food but it was a delicious tribute to this country we fell in love with.  You could double the hens and veggies and have plenty of chimichurri for 4.

More Mexican inspired recipes can be found here.

Chili-rubbed Game Hens with Scallions, Sweet Potatoes and Chimichurri

  • 2 Cornish game hens, about 1 1/2 pounds each
    salt, pepper, chili powder, ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced horizontally in 1 inch thick rounds
  • 6 scallions, ends trimmed
  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
    Pat the hens dry. Sprinkle the inside cavity generously with salt and pepper.
    On a shallow baking sheet just large enough to accomodate the hens and the veggies, spread the scallions. Place the hens on top of the scallions.  Rub with the chili powder and sprinkle with cumin.
    Toss the sweet potato rounds with the olive oil. Spread around both hens evenly. Roast in the lower part of the oven for 45 minutes, flipping  the sweet potatoes over once. Remove the hens from the sheet pan to a serving platter and serve with the vegetables and chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri

  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup  fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

In a blender, place all ingredients and purée to a sauce consistency. Can be made several days in advance and refrigerated.  Serve alongside the Cornish game hens.

 

Tomato-Pesto Deep Dish Savory Pie

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This endless cool weather has me itching to get out into the garden.  Hélas, mother nature has not been cooperating.  When I saw a huge display of gorgeous  heirloom cherry tomatoes at my supermarket, I stopped dead in my tracks.  They could have fooled me into thinking it was tomato season.  They looked that good.  I brought some home and baked up this delicious tomato-pesto tart while dreaming of the homegrown tomatoes and basil, soon to come!  Summer in the kitchen, in spite of the weather!

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Keukenhof Gardens

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Are you dreaming of spring?   Let me take you on an escape to the most beautiful spring garden in the world: Keukenhof.  I had long dreamed of seeing the famous Keukenhof gardens in Holland which seemed to have seas of flowering bulbs.  A few years ago I did make the dream come true and Keukenhof was truly an unforgettable experience.  It is still one of my favorite trips.  The garden was designed in 1857 as an ornamental garden for Castle Keukenhof.  It has been open to the public since 1950 and features more than 7 milion bulbs in bloom with more than 800 varieties of tulips to dazzle one’s imagination.  The garden is set in 32 expansive hectares in beautiful established woods with 15 kilometers of foot paths meandering throughout.  Large swaths of flowering bulbs enchant in gorgeous woodland vistas with centuries old beeches. In 2018 the show is open from March 22nd to May 13th and this year’s theme is “Romance in Flowers.”  Keukenhof is an easy 45 minute commute on public transit from Amsterdam.  On the short journey, you will pass by the bulb farms with field upon field of tulips planted in large swaths of one color.  That sight alone is worth the trip.  Join me for a visit to Keukenhof!

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