Monday, September 5, 2011



Guy, Tom and Mark sponsored the third annual crab party at Brizes’ house, and Terry, the next-door neighbor, made these fantastic T-shirts for all of us.  Guy was the crab chef, and guests brought side dishes.  The weather decided to be ugly, and after the tables were set, it poured.  No matter, the party got moved to the garage where we all chowed down on some of the best blue claws we’ve ever had, meaty, sweet and delicious.
There I am in blue and white, Mary’s in green, and Rita is watching us chow down on blue claws.
Here are Guy and Mike.  Mike is wearing his new T-shirt.  He’s a neighbor of Brizes also.  (Guy and Mike are both Cleveland Browns fans.  Mike is from Ohio; Guy is from New Jersey.)

Enjoying a break from the rain:  Rita, Tom and Jim.

So here's what happened next:  Chandler, Terry’s hub, asked Guy if he would help out the following weekend as he hosted his crew before their next mission to Afghanistan, September 9.  Any time Guy can be near crabs, the answer is always yes.  He went back to his Oriental, NC, source to get more of those great crabs, and he gleefully helped Chandler get ready for the party.  I just showed up, and had the best time meeting Chandler’s wonderful crew and their spouses.  But this time, we didn’t have the normal steamed crabs.  Instead, Chandler introduced us to his grandmother’s recipe for Low-Country Stew.   (According to Wikipedia, Low-Country Stew falls into the general category of seafood boils, and each region of the country has its own version; i.e., New England Clam Bake, South Carolina Frogmore Stew, Louisiana Crawfish boil.)

Here is Chandler as he put the last layer into the stew pot.

As you can see, you need a 40-quart pot, preferably one that keeps the ingredients off the bottom, so the liquids don’t make them soggy. 

Lois Seagraves’ Low-Country Stew

INGREDIENTS:  1 cup vinegar
1 gallon water
3 oz. bottle hot sauce
1/2 handful of salt
1/4 handful of black pepper
4 large onions, cut into eighths
8 medium red potatoes, halved, or 16 smaller red potatoes
1 package Hilshire Farms Smoked Sausage, cut into chunks
6 ears of fresh corn, shucked, cut into 3 sections each
12 blue claw crabs, backs removed, cleaned
2 lbs. jumbo fresh shrimp in shells

Combine vinegar, water, hot sauce, salt, pepper, onions and potatoes in bottom of large (40-quart) pot with steaming basket that sits above the liquids.  Bring to a boil over high heat; cook 5 minutes.  Add sausage and corn, return to boil.  Add crabs; return to boil; cover about 7 minutes, or till crabs are almost cooked.  Add shrimp, cook another 3-4 minutes, or till shrimp are done.  Lift basket from pot and pour basket contents on paper-lined table.  Everyone digs in. 
Serves 8 - 12, depending on appetite


Monday, August 15, 2011


Of all places to find a crab cake recipe, AARP Magazine was not on my list.  The brief story in the April 2009 issue written by author Pat Conroy's wife, Cassandra King, drew me in.  They met over food, they romanced with food, and, in her words, "Pat said his crab cakes were so good I would want to marry him after tasting them.  They were, and I did."  With that kind of endorsement I just had to try the recipe, even though I was a skeptic.  How could these be good with so few ingredients?  Where would the flavor come from?  As my hubby, The Crab Guy, and I took our first bites, we understood completely that old adage, "less is more."  The flavor?  It comes from the crab meat, enhanced by a minimum of additives.  This is the best crab cake recipe ever.

The Conroys serve their crab cakes over arugula, tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and champagne vinegar.  Sounded lovely, maybe next time.  This time, we had fresh spinach sauteed lightly in olive oil and corn on the cob.  It was a meal to die for.

The Conroys use an entire pound of crab meat, yielding 4 generous crab cakes, for the two of them.  I halved the recipe to make one crab cake apiece for Guy and me.  It was plenty.

Crab Cakes at the Conroys'
Adapted from AARP Magazine, April 2009
Rating:  10 out of 10

Crab Cakes:
8 oz. fresh lump crab meat
1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt, preferably grey salt
about 1/16 tsp. black pepper
1 small egg white
1-1/2 - 3 tsp. white whole wheat flour
2-4 tsp. unsalted butter
small cast-iron skillet or small flat, heavy skillet

Put crab meat in a bowl; pick over for shells.  Squeeze lemon juice over crab; salt and pepper lightly.  Gently toss together without breaking up crab meat pieces.  In a small dish, whisk egg white till foamy.  Pour over crab and gently mix in.  Using as little flour as possible, form mixture into two crab cakes.  Melt butter in cast-iron skillet (or in a flat, heavy skillet) until sizzling and just beginning to brown.  Carefully add crab cakes.  Brown on 1 side until crispy, about 2 minutes; turn carefully and brown the other side, about 2 minutes.  Remove to plates.  Serve with Caper Sauce.

Caper Sauce
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp. freshly chopped parsley
1-1/2 tsp. capers

Add butter to still-hot skillet, stirring to dislodge any crab bits still stuck to the skillet.  When butter begins to brown, add juice and turn off the heat.  Throw in capers and toss.  Drizzle sauce over crab cakes and serve.