Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good Eatin' on the Chesapeake Bay

My husband and I once had a summer home on Chesapeake Bay.
An old drawbridge led from the mainland to a little piece of Americana called Gwynn Island, a farming community of tiny homes, farms and wonderful beaches created by hand built rock jetties. This is where I first saw Ospreys nesting atop channel markers and horseshoe crabs who left their ancient carapaces on the shore. We had a family of sea otters living in the cove next to us. They were playful, adorable and unafraid. We had a beautiful spot, at one end of the island, with beachfront and day lilies and hydrangeas surrounding the house. Our place was nestled in a grove of tall pine trees, off a dirt road. It was secluded and serene. Sunday mornings I would jog down the road toward open fields of Spring daffodils. The house wasn't much but the view was to die for. We spent our weekends water skiing, knee boarding, taking long walks, relaxing in the hammock and eating. One of the highlights of the place each summer was the fresh caught crab we would get from the water men.

I love crab. I love steamed crab, soft shell crab, cracked crab, crab salad, crab cocktail and crab cakes. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs are a great delicacy. They are the mainstay of the Bay's fishing industry. Summers on the Bay are spent sailing, motor boating and swimming, at least until the stinging nettles show up, usually around July 4th. The water is warm thanks to the Gulf Stream.

Here is a recipe for Baltimore Crab Cakes:
  • 1 pound lump crab meat (picked clean of shells)
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon sweet onion (very finely minced)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 2 slices white bread (crusts removed, ripped up)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • canola oil, if frying


In a large bowl mix milk and bread together with a fork until it becomes like a paste. Add all ingredients (except cooking oil)and mix well. Form into six patties. (If it doesn't hold together well add a little more mayo.)

Pour oil in a cast iron skillet until it is about 1/4 inch deep. Heat on medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Gently add patties and fry on each side 2-3 minutes until nicely browned. Drain on paper towel.

To broil, refrigerate patties for at least one hour, then place on a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches from broiler. Broil approximately 5 minutes on each side.

Makes 6 crab cakes

This watercolor is by a Richmond artist named Laura Trevey. It inspired me to write this. Check out her work on her Etsy site or her blog.


Brian Miller said...

yum yum! love crabs. used to steam them ourselves when we lived in Maryland. great intro to the bay as well. have spent time sailing up that way as well. have a great week!

Laura Trevey said...

I'm definitely going to "attempt" to make the crab cakes.... thanks so much!!

xo Laura

Laura Trevey said...

I just linked you to my Watercolors blog :)

Unknown said...

Your former place on the bay sounds heavenly! I'm sure you must miss being there.

I love, love, love crab cakes! The best ones I ever had was at a little restaurant in Baltimore when my son lived there. I can't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was a woman's name and it was furnished with lots of different tables and chairs and had lots of small rooms. I've tried making them, but they were nothing like the ones I had there.

Sixpence and A Blue Moon said...

I LOVE crab cakes! But growing up in the Midwest, I am a intimidated by cooking seafood. These sound delicious!!!

California Girl said...

Brian: so you is a great place, except for those stinging nettles.

Laura: This recipe is similar to the Fannie Farmer recipe which is GREAT! I just couldn't find that online and wanted to cut and paste.

Laura T: Thank you very much. I look forward to your ongoing creativity.

Susan: Back in the 80's, there were several places on Fells Point that were famous but the names escape me. One had bumper stickers everyone used to put on their cars. Mildred's? No. Something like that. i'll think of it.

Sixpence: try this recipe. It's easy. Lots of crab, not too much bread. Just enough to stick together for frying. Yum.

Susan C said...

I've been in search of the "ultimate" crab cake, so I will definitely have to try this recipe.

I just read your comment on my blog (Open Mouth) about your version of mac and cheese. Would love to have that recipe.

Unknown said...

Mamie's just popped into my head when I read Mildred's. Does that ring any bells?

California Girl said...

Susan C: I don't know if this is the "ultimate" crab cake but it should be good. If not, try the Fannie Farmer version. I know that one is perfection.

Susan: That doesn't sound right. How about Minerva's? That doesn't sound right either. I'll think of it.

California Girl said...

Susan: I know what it is. It's Bertha's Mussels. I'm pretty sure that's the place on Fells Point with the bumper stickers.

Unknown said...

I asked my daughter-in-law who is a Baltimore native and she said it was Mamie's Cafe in Hampden which is no longer there. It was replaced by Dogwood's.

Unknown said...

Actually, it's Dogwood Cafe.

California Girl said...

I'm going back 20 years now so perhaps she was a kid then? I am pretty sure the place I remember was called Bertha's. Oh well, it's all good eatin'. right?

Nancy said...

Thanks, this recipe sounds wonderful, as does that little house on the Chesapeake...

Anonymous said...

Never tried the blue crab. I've fished the bay but that was years ago. I'd love to do that again...

Laura Trevey said...

Just a little thank you on my blog!!

xo Laura

Marguerite said...

I totally love the Chesapeake Bay and everything about it. I developed an addiction to the steamed crabs and silver queen corn when I lived on the eastern shore of Maryland.
A truly beautiful area.

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Rick Rosenshein said...

We live in Virginia Beach. We love crabs. We ate crabs a couple of times while we were on vacation in Alaska. Talk about tasty. We used to live in NH too....Merrimack area. You have a later growing season for some types of flowers compared to here. Thanks for your continuous visits to my blog. I appreciate it. Keep up the great work on your blog. I love the artistic floral drawings by Joelle. Rick