Singapore Crab Cakes

Well hello! What have we here? Crab cakes without Old Bay?!

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Yes! Let’s try something new and different. I had Penzey’s Singapore Seasoning on hand, and it’s recommended with seafood, so why not? It has a distinctly sweet, citric aroma, with curry-like undertones. It’s very strong too, so it’s perfect for an unexpected crab cake.

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Crab cakes are famously delicate, and since I made this before I discovered a great new way to bind crab cakes, I recommend baking these in the oven. Alternatively, I am going to post a different crab cake recipe later that uses pureed shrimp (yes, shrimp!) as a binder, and that works much better for frying in a skillet. You can also use some almond flour if the cakes don’t look sturdy enough, but I like to avoid almond flour in my main dishes, unless it’s a very small amount.

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Singapore Crab Cakes

You may have had Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes, which are traditionally flavored with the spice blend known as Old Bay. Old Bay is a big deal here in Maryland, and since I ran out of it, I tried another spice blend I had on my shelf – Penzey’s Singapore Seasoning. It was recommended for seafood, so I gave it a try, and the results were surprisingly good!

Yields: Serves 4

  • 3 cans of wild-caught lump or claw crab meat
  • 1-2 tbsp of coconut flour
  • 6 tbsp of homemade mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tsp of Penzey's Singapore Seasoning

Preheat oven to 425. Place an oven rack close to the heating element first.

Open cans of crab meat, and carefully drain as much water as possible. This is key for a crab cake that sticks together. Place crab meat in bowl. If it's still really damp, trying soaking up extra moisture with paper towels.

Combine remaining ingredients in the bowl and gently incorporate with the crab meat. Form into palm-sized balls; you should yield about 5-8 cakes. If you have time, you can place these on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up, or just be extra careful at the frying stage. I have no patience, so you can skip this step if you want.

Set the oven to broil. Broil crab cakes until golden brown on top, which should be around 5 minutes. Then, reset the temperature back to 425 and continue cooking until the cakes reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees (about 10 minutes). Serve with sliced lemon wedges. I also made a quick side salad of organic mixed greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion with a homemade dressing.

  • Preparation time: 10-30 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 25-45 minutes

Rosemary Butternut Squash Fries

Well hello! I thought it was summer, and here I am with a butternut squash recipe. It turns out, butternut squash is delicious any time, so let’s make some fries!

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I like my fries well done (almost burnt)…so I end up baking these for around 40 minutes. I recommend cutting them into half inch strips or thinner if you can, because they retain a more pleasant crunch when they are thinner. Cutting the bulb of a butternut squash is a challenge, I usually cut it into 3 pieces first, then cut thinner strips. Just be careful not to cut yourself! Also, it may be beneficial to mince the rosemary so it more evenly coats the butternut squash, but since rosemary is so fragrant, it usually carries over in flavor when you mix it in the bowl. Enjoy!

Rosemary Butternut Squash Fries

A surprising alternative to the traditional sweet potato fry, with the warm autumn notes of garlic and rosemary.

Yields: Serves 2-4

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into half inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut or avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line two or more baking sheets with parchment paper.

Begin to peel, de-seed, and cut butternut squash. The more evenly-sized the strips, the more evenly they will cook. It's much easier to cut the neck of the squash than the bulb, so you may want to take your time cutting the bulb into strips.

Toss all of the fries into a large bowl and drizzle on the oil. Sprinkle the seasonings on top, then blend until the seasonings evenly coat the fries. Depending on how large your squash is, you may have to add a bit more garlic or salt.

Lay the fries in one layer on the parchment. The thicker fries should be on the outer bounds of the parchment, since they will cook faster, and the thinner ones should be in the middle, so that they won't burn as easily. After you've gotten as many fries as you can on both sheets, place them in the oven and set the time for 16 minutes. After 16 minutes, rotate pans, and bake another 16 minutes. Take a look and see if they are done to your liking (they may need another 5-10 minutes, depending on your oven).

Let cool and enjoy!

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 32-40 minutes
  • Total time: 60 minutes

Sweet Potato Chips and Spicy Guacamole

I find that people tend to be passionate about sweet potatoes. Which makes sense, because they’re awesome. There are so many different varieties: Hannah, jewel, garnet, Jersey white, Okinawan, and my personal favorite, the purple sweet potato! I seriously eat purple sweet potatoes every single day with my breakfast hash. They’re the best, and when they’re in season, I buy them like I have foreseen an upcoming famine.

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Our CSA box this week featured what I believe is the world’s most enormous sweet potato. I couldn’t figure out the best way to prepare it, then I thought it would be funny to make the world’s biggest chips. I did not really consider how difficult it would be to cut very thin, very large, round chips while I rocked the potato back and forth with my sharp chef’s knife. Thankfully, I only ruined a few chips, and somehow I did not cut myself! The key with these chips is to cut as thinly as possible safely, whether that be hand cutting with a sharp knife, using a mandoline, or using a food processor (I have yet to master this…somehow it’s always uneven).

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I find that since my tiny, pathetic apartment oven cooks so unevenly, that it’s difficult to gauge the appropriate chip cooking time and temperature should be. I usually say around 400 degrees is a good temperature, but unless I constantly open the oven and shift around the chips, the outer ones always get burned. I mean totally blackened (and mostly crispy, which is good, I guess). I usually cook them for 20 minutes, take them out, flip them quickly, and put them back in on the other racks for 20 more minutes. Sometimes it takes longer, and sometimes they’re already burned. I think I’m going to start using my oven thermometer more so that I can finally find the right temperature!

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I have made guacamole countless times, and each time it’s just a little bit different. Sometimes I add habanero peppers, or ground scorpion pepper, or a lot of cilantro, or some lemon juice, or even some other greens or herbs. This batch had rehydrated habanero peppers, so it was quite spicy. Feel free to switch it up with jalapenos or other types of peppers depending on your heat tolerance!

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Crispy Sweet Potato Chips

These chips may take less time (or longer) depending on how accurate your oven temperature is. Mine is extremely inaccurate and cooks very unevenly, so it’s always a gamble when they’ll be ready. I keep an eye on them so they don’t get too burned!

Yields: Approximately 3 servings

  • 1 extra large (or 2 small to medium) sweet potatoes of choice
  • 2-3 tablespoons of coconut or avocado oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
  • Optional additions:
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place parchment paper over two cookie sheets or baking pans.

Wash and scrub your sweet potatoes. Using a mandoline, a food processor, or your own hand and a very sharp knife, cut round chips as carefully and thinly as you can. I recommend wearing a cut-proof knife glove if you have one.

Optional: soak the cut chips in a bowl of ice water for 20 minutes. This apparently helps them crisp up, but if you don't have time, it's not absolutely necessary.

Put the chips in a bowl and toss with the melted oil and your choice of seasonings. Adjust seasonings if it looks like they aren't fully coating the chips.

Place the chips on the parchment-covered cookie sheets, and make sure they do not overlap! This prevents them from becoming crispy. After the sheets are filled (this may take more than one batch), put them in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.

Watch the chips to make sure they aren't cooking too quickly or unevenly. After 20 minutes, take them out and flip them carefully, then put them back in the oven again for 20-25 minutes. Watch them again to make sure they aren't browning too quickly, usually the ones on the outside of the pan cook much quicker.

They're ready when they nice, browned and crispy!

  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 45-60 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes