>Secrets and MRIs.

>Showy the puppy has a nasty backache, and his owner had just had a titanium plate put in her wrist after a nasty spill. We trotted off to the vet to make sure it wasn’t Lyme disease (Showy), put off the MRI for another time, and picked up some machette and a baguette to have for a late lunch.

Let me just say that I like magazines. I like food magazines. I like magazines that tell me what my kitchen needs to have in it for me to function like a normal cook. And I like those magazines more when they take into account that some of us have budgets.

I like America’s Test Kitchen and have flipped through Cook’s Illustrated on numerous occasions and it is one of those magazines that I heart. I specifically heart the way they give you the skinny on techniques, show you what to look for in your results, and compare utensils and appliances. I was quietly thrilled when Sarah took a copy off the rack by the registers and plunked it down on the belt for me to read.

The equipment tests alone in the April issue are worth the price of the magazine- numbers 2 & 3 on the list are both Braun models, and the magazine tells you that the only difference between the $35 model and the $80 model is that there are extra attachments.

A section called “Chocolate 101” in the Nov./Dec. 2005 issue includes info on substitutions and the differences between the various types. I had no idea what “Dutched” cocoa was until I read this piece (it’s cocoa powder treated with an alkaline solution “to counter the harsh, acidic flavor of natural cocoa”- thank you Sean Lawler). Next I’m going to read the bit on “conching”, which sounds like something you do with a seashell, but I’m probably wrong.

While munching on a lovely salad of machette, tomato, cheese, and red onion drizzled with a honey mustard/balsamic vinegarette, Sarah put 4 more issues of CI on the table for me to pore over, along with a Food&Wine cookbook and a few of Ina Garten’s best. Over lunch we discussed the hidden gems and dining experiences that had captured our imaginations.

By the way, I had no idea that the Contessa started out as a policy wonk in DC! Her cookbooks are my new favorite addiction.

So in the end, Showy did not get his MRI, not today anyway, but I got to hear a great secret about crabcakes.

The other night at dinner, at an otherwise lovely Italian place, fellow-diner Tyson ordered crabcakes. I’m from Maryland and I love crab, but I have been hurt before (literally- a crab pinched my finger once. Ow.) and I am wary. When it comes to crabcakes I tend to order from known quantities such as the Baltimore waterfront or McCormick and Schmick’s.

It was a stunning plate, but there’s a lotta filler going on. Stare real hard, you can see the breadcrumbs. A cheffy friend of Sarah’s, who owns a hidden gem of which we spoke, gave her the lowdown on why so many really good crabcakes are so freakishly expensive and so freakishly good.

(Psst! The secret is fresh scallops.) Hmmm, I think this one is out of the bag. Yeah, I’m just getting into the loop here.

Anyway, you throw your scallops in a food processor like you’re tossing a softball, with a flourish worthy of a waiter serving coffee at Rasika you pour in some heavy cream and a pinch of salt and process until creamy. Then mix this mousse-y concoction with your morsels of succulent and juicy crab and any seasonings you like.

The scallop mixture binds the crab meat and doesn’t dull its flavor. Can’t wait to try it out!


2 responses to “>Secrets and MRIs.

  1. >Pshaw…no real Chesapeake Bay crabcake uses scallops. The crabcake is a working-man’s meal and is to be prepared as such. Simple, and to the point. In April, we’ll be starting up the Crabcake Battle Royale again in Baltimore, as we go to various crabcake places for delicious treats. You simply must attend, L. All the cool kids are going.

  2. >Well then, I guess I’ll be there! 😀

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