Be ready to take home goodies from Chesapeake Bay

If traveling by car, be prepared to take home goodies. Have a picnic chest in the trunk, buy a bag of ice, and do some last-minute shopping.

A tub or two of fresh lump crabmeat is a must.

Pick up a few cans of she-crab soup for a winter lunch.

Buy a six-, eight-, or 10-layer Smith Island cake from the Bakery on Talbot Street in St. Michaels. The ratio of cake to filling is perfect.

Stop at any farmstand just outside of town for corn, tomatoes, melons, cukes, beans, eggplant and squash. Put your cash in the "honesty jar."

-- Marlene Parrish

Crab Cakes Chesapeake

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Crab cooks pretty much agree that crab cakes should use as little "binder" as possible, that the mixture has to rest before forming into balls and that cooking should be as brief as possible. These are deep-fried for a mere 45 seconds, then continue to cook through briefly in a hot oven. They are memorable.

  • 1 pound lump crab meat
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons real mayonnaise, Hellmann's preferred
  • 1/3 cup soft, fresh bread crumbs, no crust
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • Dash of freshly ground pepper
  • Saltine crackers, about 12, crushed
  • Peanut oil for deep-frying

Combine crab, egg, mayo, crumbs, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay and pepper. Mix to combine and refrigerate 4 hours. Form into balls using a 1/3-cup measure. Gently roll the balls in cracker crumbs and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Gently deep-fry about 45 seconds or until golden. Transfer to a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes to finish cooking. Some cooks will increase the frying time and not bother with the oven.

Makes 8 cakes or 4 servings.

-- Marlene Parrish

Crab Imperial Stuffed Mushrooms

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When you want to go all out on presentation, try these. Chef Eric Rosen sometimes substitutes oysters for the mushrooms. Reserve the mushroom stems, chop them coarsely, and add them to sauteed chopped onions. Season and use as an omelet filling or spread on toast points as an appetizer on another day.

  • 30 mushroom caps, about 1 1/2 inches across
  • 2 pounds lump or backfin crab meat
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, Hellmann's preferred
  • 2 tablespoons light, prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

    Imperial Sauce topping:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, Hellmann's preferred
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch Old Bay seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line up the mushroom caps on a baking tray. Pick through the crab meat and remove any pieces of shell. Mix mayonnaise, mustard, cheese, lemon juice and Old Bay and toss gently with crab meat to avoid breaking up the lumps.

Top mushroom caps with the crab mixture and bake about 10 minutes until crab is hot. While they bake, mix together the topping ingredients.

Spoon a small amount of topping on the crab-meat-stuffed mushrooms and bake for a few minutes more until the topping is brown. Serve right away.

Makes about 6 servings.

--Chef Eric Rosen,
St. Michaels Crab and Steak

Sauteed Soft Shell Crabs

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Some folks will camouflage the true flavor of crabs with bread crumbs, egg wash, cracker meal, flour dustings, chopped peppers or spices. None of that is necessary. Save seasonings for the table, if at all. What you need are fresh live crabs, bubbling butter and a little respect.

Allow 2 large or 3 small crabs per serving. Clean the crabs. Heat up a large skillet. Add a lump or two of unsalted butter, and when it foams and sizzles, slide in the crabs. Don't crowd the pan. Saute until golden brown, turn with tongs, and cook on the other side until nicely colored. Serve at once.

-- Marlene Parrish

Mark Wilson, Getty Images
Maryland celebrates the delicious bounty of the Chesapeake Bay.
Click photo for larger image.


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