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Tag Archives: Dill Weed

Maryland Muffin-tin Crab Cakes


(serves 5 =10 mini cakes)
My friend Reiko made me some Maryland Crab Cakes a few years back and that’s when I discovered this is one of the best ways to eat crab. I’ve been struggling ever since to come up with a crab cake that tastes better than hers. By jove, I think I have finally done it, by flavouring the crab meat with chinese wine in a pan-fry and mixing in a tad of curry spices. Do try it.    
 

Ingredients

  1. Crab Meat (450g)
  2. Dill Mayonnaise (1 cup)
  3. Bread (5 slices)
  4. Garlic (1 bulb = 12 cloves)
  5. Shallots (6)
  6. Egg (1)
  7. Vegetable Oil
  8. Basil
  9. Dillweed
  10. Chinese Wine (or Cognac)
  11. Woustershire Sauce
  12. Djoin Mustard
  13. Coriander Seed Powder
  14. Cumin

Pre-Preparation 

  1. You will first need to make some mayonnaise according to my Dill Mayonnaise recipe. You can do this just before the crab cakes, it doesn’t take long.
  2. You will also need to cut the crust off 5 slices of bread and leave them uncovered in the fridge for a few hours to dry it out.
  3. While fresh is best, in this case I think you can get away with using canned crab meat. If you plan to use fresh crab meat, you should boil or steam the crabs ahead of time, and then deshell them (450g of crab meat = 1 pound = 2 cups tightly packed = 3 cups loosely packed). Try to use bigger crabs as they have firmer meat and the crab meat will be in larger chunks.           

           Canned Crab Meat                           Bread Crumbs                                   Muffin Tin
               

Preparation 

  1. Peel and then halve the garlic and shallots. Use a food processor to mince them (together). Spread half of the minced mixture evenly onto the bottom of a large bowl and keep the other half for use later.
  2. Dice the dried bread into crouton sized pieces and then given them a two second pulse in the food proccessor to crumb them. Zoom in on the picture above to see the desired texture. Place the crumbs into the bowl with the garlic and shallots. Add 1T Dill weed, 1T of chopped basil and 1t salt and mix well.
  3. Brown the remaining minced garlic and shallot in a pan on low heat with 3T of vegetable oil. Next, add the crab meat and gently stir fry with the heat turned up. Do your best not to break up the chunks of crab meat.
  4. When the pan is sizzling hot, sprinkle on 1/4 cup of chinese wine (for cognac, see below). Gentrly stir fry again til the liquid has dried up and then turn the heat off. Season with 1t of white pepper.
  5. In a small bowl stir together 1 egg with 3T mayonnaise, 1T woustershire sauce, 1t mustard, 1t cumin and 1t coriander seed powder.
  6. Mix the crab meat into the bowl of bread crumbs. Next, spoon the egg mixture into the bowl, mix well to bind all the constituents. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 175oC (350oF).
  8. Brush the muffin tin with vegetable oil. Spoon in the raw crab cake, filling each hole to the brim before moving on to the next one. Press down firmly with a tea spoon to make sure the crab-bread mixture is compact. Next push the raw crab cake away from the rim of each hole to give the crab cakes a rounded top.
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes depending on when your crab cakes reach a light golden brown. After you remove the muffin tin from the oven, allow it to cool for a bit so the crab cakes can firm up. The colour should continue to deepen.
  10. Serve with the rest of the mayonnaise and some mixed greens. 

Notes

  • What if you don’t have a food processor? You can mince the garlic and shallots manually easily enough. For the bread, toast lightly, dice and then smash in a zip lock with a meat mallet.
  • Cognac has a high alcoholic concentration. If you are using cognac instead of chinese wine, start off with 3T of the brandy in the measuring cup and top this up to the 1/4 cup mark with water.
  • Crab Cakes can also be served for breakfast, they go very well with fried or poached eggs. See =>
  • Instead of 10 mini-cakes, you can also form you crab cakes into 5 mini-hamburger sized patties. Just shape the cakes by hand and use a regular baking tray.
  • Don’t use butter or olive oil as they don’t cook well at high temperature.
 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in Appetizers, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Homemade Dill Mayonnaise


(makes 2 cups)
There is a world of difference between homemade mayonnaise and store-bought mayonnaise, a difference anyone, even children can taste. Homemade mayonnaise is a bit more yellow because of the egg yolks so that’s how you can tell immediately its not off-the-shelf. But when you taste it, that’s when the quality comes through. Its richer, fluffier and creamier all at the same time. Its really easy to make with simple ingredients. Try it once and there’s no turning back.  
 

Ingredients

  1. Eggs (3)
  2. Vegetable Oil (1-1/4 cup)
  3. Dijon Mustard (1t)
  4. Dill Weed (2T)
  5. Lemon (1/2)

Preparation 

  1. Take 3 eggs out of the fridge two hours ahead to let them warm to room temperature.
  2. Seperate the yolks into the mixing container. You won’t be using the whites. Add 1t of dijon mustard and the strained juice of half a lemon.
  3. Beat the mixture till it is well mixed. I use a hand-held electric blender in a tall clear tumbler but you can do it by hand if you want to.
  4. Measure 1 and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil into a pitcher. Continue blending and add the oil a little at a time. You must add the oil very very slowly at first. If the oil looks seperated from the mixture, you are adding it too fast. When half the oil has been incorporated into the mixture, you can pour the rest in a bit faster.
  5. When the mayonnaise starts to stiffen, add 1t salt and 1t pepper. Beat/Blend at high speed to bring the mayonnaise up to the right consistency. Don’t over do it or the oil will seperate again.
  6. Spoon the mayonnaise into your intended storage container. Mix in 2T of dill weed using a spoon. Cover with cling film that is pushed down to evacuate all the air and refrigerate.
  7. Dill is good with seafood. If you don’t like dill weed, here are some other choices for flavouring your mayonnaise:
    1. GARLIC crushed (= Aioli, not Rouille)… good on bread with bouillabaisse 
    2. ANCHIOVIES in oil… perfect for schnitzels
    3. HONEY and more mustard… chicken nugget dip
    4. CUMIN… also nice with crab cakes, and boiled eggs
    5. PESTO… a bold flavour for meat sandwiches
    6. SHALLOTS minced and fried… great for poached fish
    7. or refer to my earlier Mayonnaise Glazed Sole recipe

Notes

  • The egg yolks are left uncooked, that’s the secret to the natural taste and texture. Fresh eggs would be best but if not, make sure you bought the eggs less than a week ago. If the yolk sac has begun to thicken or turn orange, your egg has expired. 
  • Since you are not pasturizing any of your ingredients like the food companies, this will not keep as long as bottled mayo. That’s the one downside of homemade mayonnaise. Make sure all utensils and equipment touching the mayonnaise, and your hands, are spanking clean.
  • This is one of those times you should not use olive oil because it has a strong taste. I usually use canola oil for this, but if you have concerns over erucic acid, use alternatives like sunflower seed or soyabean oil.
  • If you are using an electrical blending appliance, make sure it is the type that does not need the cover to be on when its operating or you will have to open and close it 100x.
 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in French, Ingredients, Recipe

 

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Penne with Smoked Salmon, in Dill Cream


(serves 3)
If there is one herb that brings out the best in smoked salmon, it is dill weed. So why not use them together in a pasta sauce? This is a simple, yet delightful pasta dish, ideal for first timers and people comfortable in the kitchen alike. I’ve arranged the recipe so you can cook the pasta and the sauce at the same time, so you should be able to make it in under twenty minutes.

Ingredients

  1. Penne Pasta (3 cups)
  2. Smoked Salmon (200 g)
  3. Cream (1 cup)
  4. Grana Padano (3T)
  5. Garlic (2 cloves)
  6. Dill Weed (3t)
  7. Brandy

Preparation

  1. Put a pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. Then peel and press your 2 garlic cloves. 
  2. Next, you need to flake the smoked salmon. Stack your smoked salmon pieces in 3s and roll them up.  Cut each roll lengthwise once and then proceed to slice the rolls into thin pieces.
  3. In a pot (or frying pan if you have a big one), fry the salmon in 3T of olive oil, doing your best to smash the pieces into flakes (with a wooden spatula). This should take a minute or so once the oil is hot. – By now your water should be boiling and you can put your penne into the water.
  4. With the fire still going, add 1 cup of cream and 2t of dill weed to the salmon. Cook for another minute. To round off the sauce, add 1t sugar, the pressed garlic (1 heaped t or so) and 4T brandy before you turn off the heat.
  5. Grate some Grana Padano into a fine shaving. You should end up with 3T of grated cheese.
  6. You should cook your pasta until it is still hard but no longer powdery when bitten. Penne takes longer to cook than most other pasta so this should take about 7 minutes, but will depend on each particular brand.
  7. When the penne is ‘done’ , drain it and then add it to the sauce in the pot. Continue to cook the pasta in the pot until it is al dente, or as soft as you like. If it looks like the sauce is drying up from the heat, add a bit of water. You may need to do this a few times.
  8. With the fire off, stir in your grated cheese till it melts and then divide onto your serving dishes. As a final touch, sprinkle lightly with black pepper and 1 further t of Dill weed. 

Notes

  • If you are into drinking, add the brandy at the end so the alcohol doesn’t evaporate.
  • One of the key secrets in making pasta dishes is to undercook and do the final softening in the sauce itself. This allows the pasta to capture flavour from the sauce and also keeps the temperature from falling before you serve.
  • This recipe calls for Grana Padano as it is the mildest of the grated cheeses. Although you are using only a little cheese, if you use a stonger grating cheese, the smell may overpower the primary flavour.
  • You can use Rigatoni if you don’t have any Penne handy but the 3 cups amount is for Penne.  With the bigger tubes, you’ll need a ‘larger’ amount.  I guess thats why some people use the weight rather than volume?
 
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Posted by on December 10, 2009 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe

 

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The Herb Page


This is by no mean a comprehensive list. I’ve only put in herbs that I use fairly regularly. I feel there is no meaning in putting down a large list of meats and dishes for each herb so my comments are somewhat concise, zeroing in on things to remember each herb by. In the ideal world everything should be fesh. But this is the real world. If you want to have a full range of herbs at your disposal, its more practical to use freeze dried herbs. In general, just use more of the dried variety and you will get close to the effect of the fresh herb. Unless otherwise stated, all my recipes assume dried herbs.

One distinction to keep in mind is the difference between grassy and woody herbs. Grassy herbs can be sprinkled on directly and will just ‘disappear’. Woody herbs (like rosemary and thyme) have to be cooked for a very long time or at very high temperatures to become edible, otherwise you have to use a muslin bag or boil the herbs seperately to get an infusion. 

Herbs 500

  1. Basil. When I smell Basil, I think Italian cuisine. There are many varieties of basil, including Genovese (think pesto) Basil, Thai Basil, but Sweet Basil is the variety normally found in the kitchen. Basil is one of the few herbs that retains its flavour with cooking so it is sometimes used in stews or slow cooked sauces. When basil is mentioned to me, raw tomatoes will always come to my mind as its perfect partner, in Insalata Caprese (a salad of tomatoes and mozzarella), in Tomato Bruschetta or in some other similar dish.
  2. Bay Leaves are one of those strange herbs that have better flavour when they are dried. Consequently that is the way the are mostly sold. Long cooking releases the full bittersweet flavour of bay leaves and most braised and stewed dishes could do with a few bay leaves. When I think of bay leaves, I think of bolognese sauce and other ragu sauces using cooked tomatoes. Remember to remove the leaves prior to serving.
  3. Bouquet Garni is a bundle of woody herbs usually tied together with butcher twine that is thrown into long cooking dishes such as stews. After the flavour of the herbs is infused into the food, it is discarded. The bouquet is a legacy practice from the days before bottled freeze-dried herbs became widely available and is not all that common nowadays.
  4. Cilantro refers to the leaves of the coriander plant and tends to be associated most with Asian and Latin American cuisine. It is also used in Portuguese dishes, probably because of influences from Macau. Its very strong and permeating aroma does not get assimilated and it is very useful for masking the intensity of an overwhelming primary smell. Cilantro is often used in steamed or poached fish, and in seafood stock, to “freshen up” the seafood. If your Gorgonzola sauce is too cheezy or your goose too gamey, cilantro is one of your options.
  5. Dill Weed refers to the thread-like leaves, as opposed to the seeds, of dill. i.e. dill weed is the herb and dill seed is the spice. Freeze-dried (i.e. still green) dill weed retains its flavor relatively well, and should be stocked as a standard herb in every kitchen. When I think of Dill weed, seafood immediately comes to mind. It is used in the marination of raw salmon into gravlax or in dill butter served with crustaceans. It also goes well in cream and cream cheeses, leading to its wide use in dips.
  6. Fines Herbes is a combination of herbs popular in the Northern Mediterranian countries, comprising usually parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil although other herbs may be used as well. In general, fines herbes are intended to be added only towards the end of the cooking process, and this dictates which herbs can or cannot be included. If you don’t have an exact herb in mind when cooking something, such as an omelet you just made from leftovers, fines herbes will work well as an all-purpose herb.
  7. Herbes de Provence is another combination of herbs. The main components are thyme, basil, fennel and lavender although a few additional herbs are always added depending on the blend. This herb set is the mainstay of Provencal Cuisine, which is the cooking style of that part of Southern France around Marseilles and Toulon. One of the popular ways to use Herbes de Provence is with garlic and butter, such as in the case of baked escargots.  
  8. Lemon Grass is a herb used in marinating chicken, pork and seafood to give it an exotic oriental taste. It gets its name from the beautiful citrus rind flavour and aroma that it imparts, without the bitterness. Curries and salads from Indochina and Southeast Asia very often contain lemon grass.
  9. Oregano is often paired with basil or tomato sauce and is naturally used in pizzas. I would also consider Oregano when making egg and cheese dishes. Since world war two, when GIs discovered pizza and oregano while liberating Italy, the two have become immutably linked. Because oregano retains its flavour and aroma when dried, it was readily adopted by the US pizza chains. Ironically, I don’t use oregano much, because it reminds me and my guests of pizza.
  10. Parsley is defended by many ‘experts’ as a useful tasty herb but I stand firmly in the underwhelming camp. Sometimes I sprinkle some chopped parsely on red or yellow cream soups, on new potatoes, for aesthetic purposes. I also mix chopped parsley with garlic and butter for garlic bread to give the spread more body and a better appearance. Sometimes parsley is used in larger quantities in stuffings, again to give body. To sum up, parsley is good as a garnish and little else.
  11. Rosemary to me is an English herb that I always associate with roast chicken, and well basically anything that is roasted. It is woody but has a taste that reminds me of flowers. Rosemary is surprisingly versatile in spite of its distinctive character. It can be used, in lesser amounts, in a large variety of soups, stuffing and meat marinades.
  12. Sage is a bitter peppery herb used mostly with meat, popular in the Medditerranean and sometimes English cooking. It is most commonly found in stuffing. Sage has a strong aroma and taste and will dominate other smells if too much is used. I don’t usually use sage unless it is specified by a recipe.
  13. Tarragon is cultivated mainly in France and naturally appears often in French recipes. It is probably most known for the flavour it imparts to tartare sauce and bearnaise sauce. When I think of tarragon, I think of desiccated coconut, some people say licorice but maybe it is because they don’t have much contact with coconut. This herb has a strong sweet aroma and is one of my favourites. I often use it in baked casserole dishes.
  14. Thyme is a herb in the ‘warm’ category that is usually added early in the cooking process as it releases its flavour slowly. Like bay leaves, thyme retains its flavour on drying better than most other herbs and doesn’t disintegrate easily. Unlike bay leaves however, it  comes in very small pieces and cannot be fished out after cooking. I usually only use thyme if I am going to strain after cooking as in the case of bullion, or if I am using a muslin bag.
 
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Posted by on October 2, 2009 in Ingredients

 

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