Monthly Archives: August 2014

Crab Minnies


I wrote about making the world’s best crab cakes in “Small Foods”. We consider this recipe to be one of the best. I also thought it could make an excellent appetizer, of course it has to be downsized so it is just a bite or two. So instead of a ramekin I used mini muffin trays. You do have to adjust the proportions based on how many you are making, for 12 I use half of the recipe and you’ll probably have enough left over for one large cake to freeze. The full recipe makes about 24 or so. Additionally, I don’t use the super jumbo crab at $10 per can as you just have to break it up to put it in the tray. A small bite like this also needs a burst of crab flavor, so just use less expensive fancy lump. Maybe you have a source for fresh blue crab, that would be really excellent, but check for shell if you haven’t picked it yourself. You and your friends will love this. Enjoy!


2 cans regular crab meat
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. dill
2 dashes each of paprika, cayenne pepper
and garlic powder.
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 stick of butter melted
1 or 2 tbs. of lemon juice
8 sheets of filo dough
Cherry Tomatoes or Salsa for the topping


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place a frozen filo sleeve (there are usually two in a package) out to defrost. This will take a couple of hours. I usually just put this out to defrost in the morning and refrigerate it until needed. Do not microwave to defrost as it will make the sheets brittle. You can roll the unused sheets back up into the sleeve and refreeze when you are done.

When the filo has defrosted:

Open the cans of crab meat and drain them

Beat two eggs in a medium bowl. Add the crab meat, bread crumbs, onion, basil, spices,  1/2 of the melted butter, a teaspoon of lemon juice and mix well.

Oil the muffin tin with PAM (or a drop of olive oil in each) then wipe out the excess with a paper towel.


Unroll the filo dough and remove two sheets, keeping them together. Cut the sheet into 4″ squares. Press the squares gently into the bottom of the cup and let the overflow fall around the cup. Cut more as needed.


Put about a Tbs. of mixture in each and a drip of the remaining butter. Press firmly to pack the crab mixture in and force out any air. Fold the filo from the sides over the top of the cake and press again.

Bake for about 30 min. or until the top turns brown. Top with a slice of cherry tomato.

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Chicken Marsala


This week we decided to try to make chicken Marsala in a ramekin. Normally we would make this in a sauté pan, for a change though we decided to ramekinize it. We started by sautéing the onions. We like to cook them slowly until they turn brown and caramelize a bit. Then we put  in the mushrooms with a couple of pats of butter. By this time we began to realize that we were cooking everything but the chicken in the pan. We like to use chicken thighs as they come out very tender, but the classic dish is made with the breasts. Julienne the chicken by slicing it with the grain ( lengthwise ). When you cook this in a ramekin it all links together and forms a kind of interesting meatball.


1 chicken breast or two thighs cut into strips
1 cup of coarsely chopped mushrooms
1/2 a medium onion cut into slices and broken up.
1/4 cup of Marsala wine
1/4 cup of cream
Dash or two of lemon juice
Handful or two  of cooked egg noodles or rice
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 300 degrees
Cut the chicken up into julienne slices
Saute the onions in a few pats of butter until they are just turning brown. Remove from the pan and reserve. Cook the mushrooms in the pan, you may need a couple more pats of butter. In a small bowl, put the onion, chicken, mushrooms, marsala wine, cream, salt and pepper and mix them up. PAM a couple of ramekins and fill each with the mixture. Bake for 1 hour. You’ll probably be able to pick the “meatball” out of the ramekin with a pair of forks. Serve over top of noodles or rice with a little of the gravy. For this dish we like a tasty chardonnay, try Lucky Star for this.

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Muffin Bombed

I thought that this week I would write about one of my failures. Me, Jacques, Julia, Anthony, even the bug eating guy, everyone has at one time or another turned out something that was terrible. That’s what it is all about, experimentation and failure leads to success

I’m always thinking about the next book. What it will be about and how I will accomplish it. One of my ideas was to write a book about barbecue cooking. Not one of the usual black grilled steak, pork chops, fish etc. I was thinking more along the lines of using the barbecue as an oven. I can remember when I was a boy scout we had a folding box that you could place over camp coals and bake (burn) things in. I thought that if one could control the temperature and close the lid, you would have an oven. Not with charcoal obviously but with propane. Such an oven would be perfect for tent camping and RVing. We don’t like heating up and smelling up the trailer with the built in oven so we usually cook outside. An external barbecue/oven on the picnic table outside would be perfect.

So I took our propane barbecue which is one of those stainless steel jobs with a flip down cover and drilled a hole in the front. Then I purchased one of those barbecue thermometers for five bucks and screwed it into the hole. Wha la! Temperature control. I thought if I put the propane on low I should get 350 and on high up to maybe 450 or so. My first choice would be blueberry muffins for breakfast at Ft. DeSoto. I bought a package of blueberry jiffy muffin mix ( no use wasting homemade on a trial ) and some cheap aluminum muffin cups.

The next week we went off camping at Ft. DeSoto. The second day in I decided to try the muffins. I fired up the barbecue, set the control to medium and watched as the temperature ran up to 500 in a flash. Then I set the control to low and after some time and a little ventilation it dropped to the required 400 . I put the muffins in the now oven and baked until they had reached a lovely golden brown on top, just like on the package label. When I flipped them out of the cups I discovered that they were brown on top and a lovely charcoal black on the bottoms and sides. Although I had good temperature control on top, the bottoms were still too hot. Needless to say we had muffin tops for breakfast that day.

I haven’t given up. I think if I could cut up a pizza stone to fit the rack. In the barbecue that it might spread the heat better and allow baked goods not to burn on the bottom. Some day I’m going to try it again and who knows maybe after muffins, rolls, cakes, small loaves of bread. The list is endless. Stay tuned for more adventures in cooking and burning!

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No Noodle Pad Thai

ThumbnailSmallFoodsCoverIf you’re reading this please click on “Follow” so I know you’re out there. Buy the book on Amazon, it helps finance all this nonsense.


This is another dish that won’t make it into the next “Small Foods” book. I can’t think of anyway to make it in a ramekin.

Pad1We Love Pad Thai, the Thai rice noodle dish which can be made with chicken, tofu or shrimp, or all of these. But we’re very wary of the big carbohydrate load that rice noodles carry. So we try not to have it very often. A friend of ours made a salad once with sliced zucchini in it and it gave me the idea of replacing the noodles with zucchini. The trick is to cook them at the end of the dish and very quickly. If you cook them too long they just turn to mush instead of noodles. I like to add some chicken broth at the end and one of those chicken broth flavor boost packets. The flavor boost is like super chicken, well worth searching for in your grocery store. This contains both peanuts and soy (tofu) so beware if you are allergic.

Serves 4


1 medium zucchini
1 Pkg. Super Firm Tofu cubed or cut into 1″ cubes.
10 or so Jumbo Shrimp shelled, deviened and tails pulled off, chopped bite size and/or 1/2 lb. chopped chicken breast.
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup red and green pepper
1 8 0z.can of bean sprouts or a cup of fresh
1 8 oz. can bamboo shoots
1 packet of sugar or Splenda (about a level Tsp.)
4 Tbs. Fish Sauce
3 Tbs. Lime Juice
1 clove Garlic chrushed
1 large pat of butter
Red Pepper Flakes
Ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Chicken stock and Chicken boost
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup or so of chopped fresh cilantro leaves.
1 precooked rice bowl (about 2/3rds of a cup) or make a cup or two of rice ahead.



Press the tofu between a few sheets of paper towel to remove all of the water. Do the same for the shrimp.
Heat a large fry pan and cover. Put all but about a tablespoon of oil into the pan and wait a few minutes for it to heat up. Add butter and 1/2 of the garlic and whisk it around with a spoon. Then add the Tofu, shrimp and chicken. Cook on high heat stirring until everything starts to brown on both sides. Use the cover so the oil doesn’t splatter every where. Remove the Tofu, shrimp and chicken and set aside. Pour out the remaining oil and wipe the pan with a paper towel.


Remove the skin from the zucchini using a vegetable peeler. Using the vegetable peeler remove long thin strips from the zucchini until you reach the seeds. Turn the zucchini and do it again, until you have removed all of the meat. leaving the seeds. You should wind up with a good handful of zucchini (1/2 cup or so) per person. If not you need more zucchini!

Put the pan back on the stove add the remaining oil and heat it up. Scramble the egg in the oil. Add the remaining garlic, the peppers, onion and bamboo shoots. Cook until the peppers soften. Add back the meat and tofu. Then the fish sauce, lime juice, white wine and chicken stock. Add a couple of shakes of red pepper and a few shakes of black pepper. No salt, there’s tons in the fish sauce. Now add the bean sprouts, cook for a few minutes, then add the zucchini, stir and cook for a few minutes. Heat up the rice cup.

Put a tablespoon or two of rice on a plate. Place a serving of the pad thai on top, sprinkle some peanut and cilantro on top. Put a little salad on the side and serve.

This goes well with a full bodied white white like white zinfandel or a good white Burgundy. Enjoy!




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