Mississippians like to talk about food almost as much as New Orleanians.
In New Orleans, folks start talking about lunch just as they finish breakfast. Mississippians may not be quite that food addicted, but they do like to talk about old-time Coast cooking and how their mamas and grandmas made it.
I popped into a well-known seafood market to buy some already-prepared crab cakes. I was feeling lazy and just wanted something quick to feed the family, and crab cakes and baked potatoes sounded really good.
"Why don't you make them yourself?" asked the salesman. "It will be cheaper to buy a pound of claw meat and some Zatarain's crab cake mix and do it yourself."
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He proceeded to give me an easy recipe that can be found on the Zatarain's box and then told me the extras that his mother used in her crab cakes.
"Oh, they were so good with a couple of pieces of white bread mixed in for a firmer patty. I still make them like that," he said.
Of course, I had to share my unusual addition to crab cakes: applesauce. A New Orleans chef taught me the addition of the applesauce brings out the sweetness of the crab meat and adds extra moisture.
Needless to say, I walked out of the market with a pound of claw meat and a box of Zatarain's. When I got into the car, my daughter asked about the crab cakes.
I just held up my bag and said, "I'm making them myself. It's cheaper."
It was time to practice what I often say in this column: Fresh food prepared
at home saves the budget and is definitely worth it.
Here's the salesman's crab cake recipe.
BILOXI CRAB CAKES
1 pound fresh crab meat
3 tablespoons Zatarain's New Orleans Style Crab Cake Mix
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 pieces of white bread, torn in pieces
Beat egg in large bowl. Add crab cake mix, mayonnaise, bread torn in pieces and crab meat. Gently toss until well mixed. Shape mixture into 8 patties. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before cooking.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add 4 crab cakes and fry until golden on each side. Repeat with next batch. May add additional oil in needed.
I added1/4 cup of applesauce to the above recipe. Yum!
In a jam
Joseph Clute asked for recipes for blueberry jelly or jam, and Dora Harrison shared her favorite.
"I had this recipe in my recipe files and thought Joseph Clute might like it," Harrison said.
SKILLET BLUEBERRY JAM
1 pint blueberries, mashed
2 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin (Sure Jell)
1/2 teaspoon margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
In a skillet (do not use cast iron), heat the blueberries, pectin and butter over medium high heat; stir constantly until the mixture boils.
Stir in the sugar; bring back to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Pour the jam into 2 half-pint jars with tight-fitting lids. Cover and refrigerate until the jam is set and cold.
Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or store in the freezer for up to a year. Thaw in the refrigerator.
-- Submitted by Dora Harrison
And on to figs
Clute also asked for help in locating fresh figs, but he may be too late this season.
"I have a big fig tree, but come this time in July the figs are almost gone," said Lynette Faul, who is a frequent contributor to this column. "June is when they start to ripen as I make a lot of jam. I just wish your reader had asked earlier."
If anyone does have figs left, please let me know so I can pass along to Clute.
Ice Cream Day
Ice cream recipes and help for Esther Tidwell and her new ice cream maker are still coming in. Who can have too many ice cream recipes? After all, Sunday is National Ice Cream Day.
Sandy Price of Diamondhead, Miss., who shared an ice cream recipe in the July 4 column, sent in another goodie, blackberry ice cream with blackberry brandy sauce. What a great dinner party dessert!
BLACKBERRY ICE CREAM WITH BLACKBERRY BRANDY SAUCE
1- 1/2 cups blackberries
1- 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup blackberry brandy
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix berries with 1 cup of sugar and brandy in bowl. Let stand to macerate. Crush lightly.
Beat whole egg, egg yolk and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar to blend. Ad cream, milk and vanilla and mix until sugar dissolves. Blend berry mixture into cream. Transfer to ice cream maker and process according to instructions. Freeze in covered container to mellow flavors.
Blackberry brandy sauce:
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup blackberry brandy
Mix berries, sugar and brandy in saucepan. Let stand to macerate. Crush lightly.
Bring mixture to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until syrupy, about 10 minutes.
Cool completely before spooning onto ice cream.
Yield: 1 quart.
-- Submitted by Sandy Price
Just to tempt the sweet tooth, here's an easy recipe from the Cuisinart booklet that is sure to please chocolate-peanut butter lovers.
PEANUT BUTTER CUP ICE CREAM
1 cup good quality peanut butter (not natural)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped chocolate peanut butter cup candies (about 15 miniature peanut butter cups)
In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the peanut butter and sugar until smooth. Add the milk and mix on low speed until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.
Turn on the Cuisinart (registered trademark) ice cream maker; pour the mixture into freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the chopped candy through the top and let mix in completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.
Wanted: Grandmother's City Chicken recipe
"I would like to know, step by step, how to re-create my grandmother's recipe for City Chicken. Unfortunately, I do not have her recipe. However, the recipes I have found help me realize it is not a difficult dish to prepare," Audrey Thompson said. "My one attempt did yield City Chicken that was not nearly as good as hers. It was not tender and delicious like hers. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated."
Readers, do you have a recipe for City Chicken? If so, please send it my way.
Andrea Yeager, a freelance writer, can be reached at email@example.com. Send contributions or requests to Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.