Tag Archives: Donald Link

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

I would really love to be one of those food bloggers that cooks whatever they want to share that week. The ones who go by their own inner whims and tastes, who make a dish over and over, for days in a row until they get it just right to then excitedly share their results. But I’m just not.

I’m usually only cooking for two, and we two who eat my cooking are two people who are keenly aware of the fact that we and our metabolisms are not twenty-two anymore. We limit our portions, thus yielding many leftovers. Sometimes that means leftovers from the meal itself, and sometimes it means that I bought too much of an ingredient at the store.

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

And when that happens, it usually leaves me looking for a way to not waste it. So when I bought too much zucchini at the farmer’s market last week, I threw it into zucchini bread to avoid throwing it into the trash. So original, right? Yeah, not so much.

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

So I hope what is somewhat creative is this particular recipe for zucchini bread I’m sharing today. Common add-ins to zucchini bread seem to include nuts, chocolate, dried or fresh fruits – but I’d never seen rosemary before. Zucchini bread is on the sweet side, rosemary is not, but I loved the punchiness of that sweet-savory contrast it provided. This recipe method was a bit different from what I’ve seen too. Instead of squeezing all the water out of the shredded zucchini as usual, you use that as the liquid in your batter. I was a bit skeptical, but I shouldn’t have been – it worked quite nicely! Enjoy this one, it’s a great vehicle for using up any excess zucchini you may have lying around your house too!

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

Source: Down South by Donald Link

1 ½ cups plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour
½ cup walnuts
2 medium zucchini
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup canola or olive oil
2 large eggs
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes. Set aside, cool slightly, then chop. Using a box grater, grate the zucchini on the coarse holes. Spread the zucchini out on some paper towels to absorb a little excess water but do not squeeze them out.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Stir in the rosemary. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, and eggs. Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice, zucchini, and walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan completely before slicing and serving.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

As many times as I’ve visited New Orleans, and as special as that city is to me personally, you’d think at some point I would’ve known about their thriving Sicilian community. But, nope. Had to read that one in a book. Chef Donald Link, NOLA native and one of my favorite cookbook authors, published this dish in his second book, Down South, as a classic example of the flavors and types of dishes you find from the fine Sicilian people of New Orleans.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

It makes complete sense to me. The flavors are obviously and unmistakably Italian, but there’s a brash boldness to this dish that reminds you that the New Orleans spirit has definitely had its effect. It’s not the least bit subtle, but still quite balanced and intensely flavored. Matt and I raved over it.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

I originally intended to follow this recipe to the letter, which calls for roasting the chicken with the sauce poured over in a 9×13” casserole. Unfortunately, my baking dish happens to have rather low sides, and I realized that it wouldn’t hold all the sauce without spilling it all over my oven floor. I think we can all agree that it just sucks when that happens, so as a preventive measure, I used my larger lasagana pan. It worked perfectly fine, but my chicken did cook a bit faster than the recipe stated it would. However, the sauce thickened as it should have, so I’d probably do it this way again.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

I hope y’all enjoy this one! It’s ideal for a cold winter night – rich and hearty, and those strong flavors are so warming.

Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link

1 (3 ½ – 4 lb.) whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 rosemary branch
1 ¼ cups diced salami
1 cup green olives, pitted and halved
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 ¼ cups chicken stock
4 fresh bay leaves
Juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oven to 375 F.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken in 2 batches until golden brown, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a large baking dish (I used a lasagna pan).
Add the onion to the skillet and cook in the rendered chicken fat, stirring, until brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, fennel, rosemary, salami, olives, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Pour in the wine and simmer to reduce, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and cook about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock in batches and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves and lemon juice.
Pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish and roast in the oven until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. Use a meat thermometer to be sure. It should register 165 F when the chicken is done. Baste the chicken every 15-20 minutes with the sauce.
Discard the bay leaves and serve the chicken warm with plenty of sauce spooned over.

Meyer Lemon French 75

Meyer Lemon French 75

Why is the first week back to work after the holidays always so sluggish and difficult? Every year, it’s the same. I have trouble waking up in the morning, I’m bushed every night for no apparent reason, my workouts feel terrible, and my mood is… out of sorts, to put it politely. Then that first weekend comes, and everything is okay again. I don’t know…

Winter citrus has arrived, and I said that this year I wasn’t going to go crazy trying to make as many recipes as possible, and thought maybe I’d skip it altogether, but I’ve already used Meyer lemons, key limes and kumquats, plus some blood oranges sit on my counter patiently awaiting their fate, so there goes that, I guess.

Meyer Lemon French 75

No matter! This drink is certainly worth sharing. A French 75 is a classic New Orleans libation, supposedly named after French military artillery (???), and while it sounds fancy, it’s actually a very simple drink made of simple syrup, lemon juice, and either gin or cognac, then topped off with Champagne or sparkling wine.

Meyer Lemon French 75

Today we make it more seasonal with Meyer lemons, but regular lemon juice would obviously do just fine. Meyer lemons have an almost bitter yet sweet quality to them that I thought played well off the strong gin. This drink certainly sounds and even looks a bit fancy, so I say bust it out for an appropriate occasion! Enjoy!

Meyer Lemon French 75

Source: Down South by Donald Link

1 oz. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
1 ½ oz. gin
Champagne or sparkling wine
Twist of Meyer lemon peel

Combine the Meyer lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin in a cocktail shaker with a scoop of ice. Cover and shake vigorously. Pour the strained drink into a champagne flute or coupe glass. Top off with Champagne and garnish with the lemon peel.
Makes 1 drink as written.

Almond Short Bread Wedges with Lemon Icing

Almond Short Bread Wedges with Lemon Icing

It would appear that the holiday baking season is wholly upon us, and I personally couldn’t be happier seeing as I love to bake and this is a terrific excuse. That being said, I know the holiday season can be stressful and harried, and sometimes we’re supposed to bake a treat to bring somewhere or serve to guests and we just don’t have time to do anything elaborate.

Almond Short Bread Wedges with Lemon Icing

That’s where this recipe comes into your life and saves it. First of all, you start with cold butter. Yes, really – cold butter!! What cookie recipe lets you do that? Secondly, you don’t have to take the time to scoop each individual cookie onto a baking sheet; you just press the entire ball of dough into a greased tart pan and bake it off.

almond short bread wedges with lemon icing

Almond Short Bread Wedges with Lemon Icing

And now you might be thinking that cookies this easy surely must taste awful, but occasionally too good can be true. These are completely amazing. Perfectly buttery, soft texture, and a light crunch of almond to contrast, and then the tart bite of the lemon glaze all come together in a perfect bite. These are wonderful little cookies to throw together when you’re backed up against the wall this holiday season. Enjoy!

Almond Short Bread Wedges with Lemon Icing

Source: Down South by Donald Link


16 tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus more for garnish
1 cup cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sliced or slivered almonds

1 ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract

To make the COOKIES: preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9” round tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt on low speed until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and granulated sugar, increase the speed to medium, and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flours in 3 batches, turning the mixer off before each addition and mixing on low until just combined.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, gather into a ball, and flatten into a disc. Using your hands, press the dough into the prepared tart pan. Sprinkle the top of the dough with extra sugar and the sliced almonds.
Bake 15 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 300 F and bake until light golden, an additional 25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven. Press up on the bottom of the tart pan to release the sides of the pan. Using a long knife, slice the shortbread into 12 wedges while still warm. Allow the wedges to cool completely.
While it’s cooling, make the LEMON ICING: in a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until very smooth.
Once the cookie wedges are completely cool, use a fork to drizzle the lemon icing over them. Either serve right away or let set before transferring to an airtight container for storage.

Honey Pecan Old Fashioned

Honey Pecan Old Fashioned

As a formerly picky eater, it’s interesting to me to occasionally take a step back and observe how far my taste buds have matured and how much my palate has evolved. Nowhere is this more apparent than in my alcoholic beverage preferences. I spent my twenties as most of us Americans do: in a sea of cheap, bottom-shelf liquor consumed only with super-sweet, also cheap, mixers. If you’d told me back then that my mid-thirties’ palate would be in love with stiff cocktails that are drunk by, you know, grown-ups, I would’ve laughed you right out of the room.

honey pecan old fashioned

And yet, here we are. Not only do I prefer my drinks much, much stiffer, I’ve noticed that my favorite mixed drink has gradually migrated from a margarita to an old fashioned. I’m a little obsessed with them now, and I love trying different twists on the classic drink. Since pecans always remind me of November and the Thanksgiving and holiday season in general, I thought this was an appropriate time of year to try out this recipe.

Honey Pecan Old Fashioned

I love it when I’m right. 🙂 This drink is stiff yet very warming, perfect for crisp, fall evenings. The honey flavor is strong but never overwhelming, and you must, must, MUST toast your pecans first – otherwise you won’t really taste them at all. I found the pecan flavor much more subtle, but toasting the nuts first ensures that it’s definitely there.

I absolutely LOVED this drink. Fortunately it makes extra honey syrup, which is sitting in the fridge, beckoning me to have another round. Enjoy!

Honey Pecan Old Fashioned

Source: Down South by Donald Link

2 tbs honey

½ oz. honey syrup
3 pecan halves, toasted
2 oz. bourbon, preferably Buffalo Trace
3 drops coffee or chicory bitters
1 strip of orange peel

First, make the HONEY SYRUP: heat the honey with 2 tbs water in a small saucepan. Simmer briefly until thickened, then let cool before using. This will make about ½ a cup. Save the leftovers in the fridge. You’ll want another drink!
To make the DRINK: in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass, muddle the honey syrup and pecans. Add the bourbon and bitters, and swirl to mix. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into an old-fashioned or rocks glass filled with ice. Express the oil from the orange strip into the glass, then wipe the rim of the glass with the twist. Serve immediately.
As written, this makes 1 drink.

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

lemon basil roast chicken

It’s been said countless times, and I’m reiterating it one more time: I (like many others) truly believe that one of the best investments a home cook can make is learning to properly roast a chicken. (Unless you’re vegetarian/vegan, of course.)

lemon, basil and garlic

Roasting a whole chicken is one of the more satisfying meals I make, and this is echoed throughout the land of chefs and home cooks everywhere. But I’ve always wondered if our diners feel the same way. There’s something romantic and grounding about getting that chicken prepped perfectly, then while it’s cooking, hearing the crackling of the skin and the spattering of fat drippings that you know make really tasty gravy or jus later, and then the whole reward of taking it from the oven to the table.

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

Looking at that perfect bird, sitting there proudly with her perfectly crispy skin and juicy, moist flesh. It’s a sight to behold. But it’s really, when you think about it, all about the cook. Do diners really feel the same about roasted chickens? I of course think chicken is incredibly delicious when cooked just right, but I’m probably biased to like the taste even more because I put in all the work and saw the entire process through. I always wonder how others feel, when the only part of the process they participate in is the eating part.

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

But, I’ve yet to get a complaint about roast chicken from any diners who regularly eat my food, so I’ll doubtless keep making it. Chickens are such blank flavor slates, so there’s about a bazillion different directions in which you can take any one particular meal. This one is lemon and basil.

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

Happy and cheery, a reminder that warmer temperatures are coming our way, thank god, this one is everything you want your roast chicken to be. I’d love to tell you this is so easy and comes together in a snap, but neither is really true. Prepping a roast chicken always takes longer than I think it will, but I want to get it just right. And it does take some practice, time and experience to truly feel comfortable and in command of cooking the bird, but I’ve found that using a meat thermometer cuts down on the uncertainty and produces consistent results. Please enjoy this beautiful main course.

Lemon Basil Roast Chicken

{One Year Ago: Queso Flameado with Chipotle Ranchera Shrimp Salsa; Oatmeal Raisin Muffins; Nutella Pie}
{Two Years Ago: Tin Roof Ice Cream; New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp; Cranberry Orange Waffles}

Source: Real Cajun by Donald Link

1 small lemon
2 cloves garlic, left whole
6 large leaves of fresh basil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced into 6 pieces
1 (3 ½ lb.) whole chicken, trimmed and patted dry
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbs olive oil
1 whole onion, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbs unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 425 F.
Slice 6 very thin slices of the lemon (discarding the very end). Cut the remainder of the lemon into chunks. Place the chunks of lemon into the cavity of the chicken, along with the whole garlic cloves and the stems of the basil leaves.
Place the basil leaves on a flat surface, then place a lemon slice on top, then a garlic slice on top of the lemon. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the salt, black pepper and paprika. Generously rub the spice mixture all over both sides of the chicken, really massaging it in. Without cleaning your hands, use your index finger (preferably with clipped nails!) to very gently loosen the breast skin from the flesh. Work at this from both sides of the breast. Now gently roll the basil leaves up and over the lemon and garlic slices. They should look more like an envelope than a roll. Very gently, slide 3 basil-lemon packets underneath the loosened skin on the chicken breast, then slide the other 3 on the other breast. I found it easiest to insert one from the neck end and the other two from the cavity ends. Now wash your hands off.
Place the sliced onion in a single layer in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, or another oven-safe skillet or baking dish of equal size. Truss the chicken (to ensure it cooks evenly), then place it breast side up on top of the onions. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Without removing the bird from the oven, lower the heat to 350 F. Bake until the meat thermometer registers 165 F, which will be about another hour, but possibly more or less, depending on the size of your chicken and the particulars of your oven. When the bird is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest while you prepare the jus.
First, drain the excess grease out of the skillet and into a small bowl without removing the onions. Place the skillet with the onions still in it on a burner over medium-high heat. Pour in the white wine and gently scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. When the wine has reduced by half, pour the onion and wine mixture into a small pot and add the chicken stock. Let this simmer for 5 minutes or until it reduces by one-third. Now add the butter and as much or as little of the reserved pan drippings (grease) as you like. Once the butter melts, stir to combine, then lower the heat to low and keep the jus warm while you carve the chicken.
Once the chicken has been carved, transfer the jus to a gravy boat and serve alongside the chicken pieces.

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup with Turkey Carcass Stock

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Today, I think we should discuss Thanksgiving turkey carcasses. Exciting and appetizing right? Mmmm…. No, really we should.

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Many moons ago I graduated from the wonderful Baylor University (sec ‘em Bears!), which is located in Waco, Texas, a small town that descriptively sits somewhere in between completely rural and decent-sized town. One year, I was driving down the street from my residence a couple days after Turkey Day and I had to stop my car because right smack in the middle of the street an enormous vulture was chowing down on a turkey carcass he’d dragged out of someone’s garbage bag.

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I figured he would move when he saw my car, but no. He just gave me this “yeah, what are you lookin’ at?” look and went back to feasting on that carcass. I actually had to drive around him, which also didn’t faze him one bit.

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So this year, I say we all encourage the vultures to stay out of the residential neighborhoods by using our turkey carcass to make one of the most delicious noodle soups I’ve ever tasted! Yeah, save your carcass after you’ve carved your turkey. It then goes into the largest pot you have (or hack it up into large pieces and divide among two pots – I had to and it works just fine); fill the pot with aromatics and water and let it simmer away. In a few hours you will have the richest, most beautiful turkey stock with which to make your soup, your house will have the warmest and most fragrant aroma, and your neighbor may even be texting you to find out what is making the whole building smell so good.

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup 5877

Then you use some shredded leftover turkey meat to make a delicious, comforting noodle soup that can feed your whole family. It is sooooo good. I hope y’all will enjoy it!

Leftover turkey noodle soup 5882

{One Year Ago: Pumpkin and Fried Sage Pizza}
{Two Years Ago: Barbecue Beef Chili}

Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link


1 turkey carcass from 1 roasted turkey (use a meat cleaver to hack up the carcass into pieces if necessary)
1 onion, peeled and chunked
2 celery stalks, rough chopped
1 carrot, rough chopped (no need to peel it)
4 garlic cloves, smashed (no need to peel)
4 fresh bay leaves
1 tbs black peppercorns

1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 fresh bay leaves
2 tbs Dijon or whole-grain mustard
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs dried oregano
½ tsp poultry seasoning
Kosher salt and black pepper
Up to 3 cups of store-bought chicken or turkey stock (maybe)
2 cups shredded turkey meat, light and/or dark, leftover from the roasted turkey
8 oz. wide egg noodles
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

To make the STOCK: in the largest pot you have, combine the turkey carcass bones with the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and 6 quarts of water. If you need to, you can split this evenly between 2 stockpots (I had to).
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat, and simmer, skimming the fat off the top as needed, for 3 hours. Strain the stock. If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator for a few days.
Now make the SOUP: heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and bay leaves and cook until the vegetables have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mustard, vinegar, oregano, poultry seasoning, 1 tbs kosher salt and 2 tsp black pepper.
Measure 2 quarts plus 2 cups of the turkey stock you just made. If you have less than that, no big deal, just supplement with the store-bought stock. Add the stock to the soup pot, then add the turkey meat.
Simmer, skimming the fat as it rises to the surface periodically, until the meat is very tender, about 30-45 minutes.
When the soup is nearly ready, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously, then add the noodles. Cook until just al dente, then drain them and transfer to the soup pot. Simmer them for about 15 minutes to allow them to absorb some soup broth.
Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper as needed. Serve the soup in either large, deep bowls or wide, shallow bowls garnished with parsley, if desired.

Beer-Battered Soft-Shell Crabs Meuniere

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I’ll freely admit to you: I have trouble pinning down soft-shell crab season. Some years it seems to be early summer, other years it’s very late summer, almost into the fall. Some summers have fishmongers featuring these elusive beauties week after week, and other summers you miss them if you blink. I have not figured it out.

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Soft-shell Crabs 110

What I have figured out though, is that soft-shell crabs are rather polarizing and can inject friction into otherwise happy marriages, like my own. I absolutely ADORE soft-shell crabs and my version of heaven would be waters with mutant crabs that never grew their shell back, so I could feast on them year-round.

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Matt, on the other hand, isn’t so much of a fan. He’ll be a good sport and pick at them when I insist on making them, but he doesn’t smile at all during those dinners and he described their texture as “soggy fingernails.” ???

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So, if you happen to agree with my darling husband, just click on, for this post may not be your cup of tea. If you are like me though, you most definitely want to make these babies, the sooner the better. I’ve made soft-shell crabs every which way, from grilled in a sandwich, to sautéed over pasta, to breaded and fried. And these beer-battered and deep-fried crabs are by far the best I’ve ever tasted. The batter gets so crispy in the hot oil, but it somehow melds perfectly with the moisture of the crabs when you take a bite. They were so insanely delicious, and even Matt admitted that they were growing on him as he ate.

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So if you are a soft-shell crab fiend such as myself, please make these as soon as you can. You’ll love me (and chef Donald Link) forever.

Beer-Battered soft-shell crabs Meuniere 144

Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link

1 cup cake flour (can sub in rice flour)
1 tbs all-purpose flour
About ¾ cup beer
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
4 medium to large soft-shell crabs, or up to 8 small crabs

Meuniere Sauce:
2 tbs unsalted butter, cold
3 tbs chicken stock
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp drained brined capers
½ tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

First make the beer batter: in a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, beer, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. The batter should be thin enough to barely coat your fingers.
Fill a medium pot with about 3 inches of oil and heat to 350 F.
Cut the crabs in half lengthwise, right down the midsection (make your cut where the chest cavity meets). Pat them very dry with paper towels.
Place the crab pieces in the bowl of batter and gently toss to thoroughly coat each piece. Carefully take each piece out of the batter and let the excess drip off for a second, then carefully place them in the hot oil. Fry until light golden brown, about 2 minutes, flipping once if needed. Do not crowd the pot – do this in batches if need be. Transfer the fried crab pieces to a paper towel lined plate.
Once the crabs are done, make the meuniere sauce. It goes quickly, but for best results, have everything prepped for the sauce before you start frying crabs, then throw the sauce together as soon as the crabs are done.
For the sauce, heat a small skillet or pot over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add 1 tbs butter and swirl to coat. When it starts to turn golden brown (and this will only take about a minute), add the chicken stock, lemon juice, capers, garlic and red pepper flakes. Slightly reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half, which again only takes about a minute. Remove from the heat and swirl in the remaining 1 tbs butter.
Transfer the crabs to a plate or platter and douse liberally with the meuniere sauce. Serve immediately.

Toffee Brownies

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So here I am at last, sharing the final brownie recipe for my themed Blondies and Brownies week. The anal-retentive part of me needed to get two blondies recipes plus two brownies recipe up on the blog, to make the title of the themed week accurate. I hadn’t been calling it Blondies and Brownie week, though as of Friday afternoon, that’s pretty much what it was.

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No, I have to make the plural tense accurate. And what better way to do that than with Toffee Brownies? Personally, I can’t think of anything….

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So, these are amazing. Of course. I’m a toffee fiend, and I know I’m not even remotely alone.

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Oh, and these brownies are intensely chocolate-y. They are super-rich and not too sweet. In short, they are a wonderful little snack or dessert for all you chocolate and toffee lovers, and they’re pretty easy to make, too. I hope y’all will enjoy them!

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{One Year Ago: Banana Dark Chocolate Chunk Mini Muffins}

Source: Down South by Donald Link


1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 tbs unsalted butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup plus 2 tbs canola oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 (8 oz.) packages of Heath bar or toffee bits (about 3 cups)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

6 tbs unsalted butter
1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ½ oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup plus 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

To make the BROWNIES: preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a 9×13” baking pan and set aside.
Pour ½ cup plus 2 tbs of boiling or really, really hot water into a 1-cup measuring cup. Add the cocoa powder and whisk vigorously to combine. Set aside.
Set up a double boiler, or a makeshift one of a glass bowl atop a saucepan of simmering water, and add the butter and the chocolate. Let them both melt, and whisk until smooth when done. When smooth, whisk in the cocoa powder mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla. Slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture. Add the flour and salt and gently whisk to combine. Stir in 2 ½ cups toffee chips and the semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Use a rubber spatula to transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, about 40 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan before icing.
Meanwhile, make the ICING: in a double boiler (or a makeshift double boiler), add the butter and both chocolates. Melt them together and whisk until smooth. Add the sour cream and sugar, and whisk vigorously until all is combined and very smooth. Set the icing aside in a cool place and let it rest at least 1 hour, until it becomes thick and spreadable.
When the brownies and icing are ready, pour the thick icing on the top of the brownies and use a butter knife or an offset spatula to evenly spread the icing all over the brownies. Evenly sprinkle the remaining ½ cup toffee chips over the icing. Cut into squares and serve.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab Salad

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It’s only been in the last decade of my life that I’ve even heard of gazpacho, let alone tasted it. I’ll admit, it sounded a little odd, but I learned of it in my New, Adventurous Eating Phase of Life, so I dove right in to trying it. And…. I didn’t like it. So I tried again. And once again, I didn’t like it.

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After another try or two, I simply gave up. I figured, no one likes everything out there, right? Until I put two and two together and realized it – I don’t like onions in my gazpacho. I’m just not a big raw onion person. They have their place, sure; don’t worry, I don’t pick them out of pico de gallo or anything. But when I tried gazpacho without any onions, I finally understood its appeal, and now I happily join its legions of fans!

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I picked up Donald Link’s new book a few months ago and was very excited to see a gazpacho recipe in there. Now that watermelons are in season (yea!!!), I thought it time to give his recipe a go. And as you’d expect, it’s insanely delicious. It’s so light and healthy, and extremely flavorful with perfect juicy watermelons.

watermelon gazpacho w crab salad 179

A few recipe notes: as written, this makes a lot! Feel free to cut the recipe in half. If you make the whole thing, my recommendation would be to chop everything and mix it up in a large mixing bowl, then blend it in batches. Also, a note about the crab salad. Chef Link instructs to place a spoonful of salad on top of the bowls of soup. Initially, I couldn’t do the math on that. I mean, the crab salad has mayonnaise, which I just couldn’t picture blending well with gazpacho. So I put the salad on toasts and we ate them alongside. Well, I was wrong and Chef Link was right, which I know is really not surprising. Skip the toasts, guys. I’m serious, it’s so delicious the way he intended it.

And lastly, I scaled down the amount of crab salad, because the day I went shopping, crabmeat was horrifically expensive. So I chose to cut the recipe down to save my wallet. You can certainly scale up to as much as 1 ½ lbs.  of crabmeat. Enjoy!

Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab Salad 181

{One Year Ago: Jerk Chicken “Tostadas” with Cabbage-Jicama Slaw}

Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link


4 cups chopped ripe tomato
4 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped
3 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and chopped
¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
¼ cup loosely packed torn basil leaves
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste if needed
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste if needed
2 tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling

6 tbs mayonnaise
½ tsp lime zest
Juice of half a lime
1 small serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
4 large basil leaves, chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of sugar
8 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat

Make the crab salad first. Spread the crab on a plate and pick it free of shells and cartilage. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, lime zest, lime juice, serrano, basil, pepper flakes, salt, and sugar. Add in the crabmeat and gently stir to combine. Let it sit in the refrigerator while you make the soup.
To make the gazpacho, combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until pretty smooth. A little chunky is good. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice and salt, if needed.
To serve, divide the gazpacho in wide bowls. Top each with a dollop of crab salad and finish with a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.