As you’re reading this, I’m probably in the air or have already landed in Chicago. I am so excited for our little getaway! I’ve never been to Chicago before, and it’s definitely the top city on my “must see” list. I’ll be happy to cross one more off (the next cities on the list are Austin, Atlanta, San Diego, Minneapolis and Salt Lake- in no particular order). Chicago was definitely at the to of my list though.
This is actually my birthday gift from Greg from back in February, so I’ve been excited about it for quite a while now! We are going to see two baseball games while we are there- one at Wrigley field on Sunday (Red Sox vs. Cubs) and another at U.S. Cellular field (Cubs vs. White Sox) on Monday! Greg and I have a bucket list to visit every MLB stadium, so this will knock two off the list!
We’ll have all day Saturday, Sunday and Monday to walk around and really don’t have a lot planned out yet. I’m sure we’ll do at least one tour (we always like to do that right away when we get to a new city- it definitely helps narrow down what you want to do!), do a ton of walking, and eat a lot of good food. We’re staying right on Michigan Avenue, which I hear is a good location. I feel a bit embarrassed- I know absolutely nothing about the city and really should have done my homework. Oh well- it’s kind of cool to go in with no expectations.
I want to leave you with a really easy recipe that I put together for dinner a few nights ago: “crab” cakes!
You may remember me describing the amazingly delicious “crab” cake that I had at Great Sage last week. I had asked the waitress what was in it- and she said that you basically can take any crab cake recipe and just substitute the meat for hearts of palm (canned ones at that!) That definitely sounded easy enough, so I was eager to experiment!
As a Maryland girl, crabs are something that I hold near and dear to my heart. They best way to eat crabs (of course) is steamed, with lots of Old Bay, malt vinegar and a good supply of beer. Eating crabs is not just a meal- it’s a social event. Anyone that says “picking crabs is too much work” is obviously not a native Marylander (because a native would never say that). Maryland crab soup, softshell crabs, and crabcakes are all tied for second in my book.
As a kid, I remember going crabbing with my family and having big awesome crab feasts that lasted all day. I even went crabbing a lot in my 20s with various friends or boyfriends that had boats- it’s so fun to just go out on the bay and catch some (it’s a lot of work, but man- I LOVE IT!). But, if you aren’t going to go catch your own crabs, you can go buy crab meat at any local grocery store or fish market. They problem is- crab meat is expensive- like at least $20/lb. Luckily, you can get the same amount of hearts of palm for about $2. It sounds crazy, but the texture is really similar to crab. And if you didn’t know better, you might even think that you’re eating a real crab cake when make this recipe.
It looks legit, right?
I have a pretty standard crab cake recipe that I use every time, and it always turns out perfectly. The perfect crab cake has more meat than anything (not too much filler!) and is baked or broiled- not fried (don’t even get me started on fried seafood- it’s a crime against humanity!). My recipe is no secret- it’s pretty much exactly the same as what’s on the side of a can of Old Bay. For this “crab” cake, I just subbed out the meat for hearts of palm.
Vegetarian Maryland “Crab” Cakes
1 15 oz. can hearts of palm, drained
1 egg, beaten (could use flax egg to make this vegan)
1/2 c breadcrumbs (I make my own using multigrain toast)
1 T Old Bay
1 T Veganaise
1 tsp dill
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp yellow mustard
Pre-heat oven to 400˚ and coat a glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Mash up the hearts of palm into a bowl (or gently pulse in a food processor). (Remove your rings and) Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix well by hand. Divide into 4 equal parts and shape into balls, then flatten. Arrange crab cakes in glass baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes. Flip over halfway through. Crab cakes should be golden brown when they are done.
I topped these with a quick and easy remoulade that I threw together. This was actually my first time making this kind of sauce, and it was so delicious!
Roasted Red Pepper + Red Onion Remoulade
1/4 c roasted red peppers
1/4 c roasted red onion
2 T plain 0% Greek yogurt
1 T Veganaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp dill
salt + pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Mix until smooth (about 10 seconds).
Let’s just take one more look at those beautiful crab cakes…
Do yourself a favor. Make these TODAY.
I’ll see you when I get back from Chi-town!
Are you a crab fan (as in BLUE crabs- not King!)? What food is popular where you live that outsiders might not “get?”