Do you remember the first time someone put a hot, angry red steamed crab in front of you and expected you to crack it open? Perhaps this a distinctly DC area rite of passage, but I’m sure the foodie tot will be telling this story to her children one day far, far in the future. It wasn’t actually her first crab, but let me back up.
Last Mother’s Day, I had a craving for beach air and fresh crabs, as I tend to do when the weather heats up in May. Back in my carefree kid-free days, a coworker and I would play hooky on the first warm day of spring and head down to Annapolis for a little day-drinking. With kids in tow now, we hit the road for a day trip to Kent Island, just over the Bay Bridge from Annapolis. (Also, the spot where we were married, many, many years ago.)
After playing on a small sandy beach we found just down under the bridge, we headed over to Harris Crab House and put our name on the rather long list for a table. We were armed with books to read and settled in to a shady spot on the docks. We may also have treated the kids to ice cream before dinner, because, well, we were hungry. Fortunately they were still hungry when we were eventually seated on the upper deck, in a spot perfect for watching the nearby drawbridge over Kent Narrows. So hungry, perhaps, that when I read the kids menu options the girl didn’t really hear anything except the side items that came with the kids’ crab platter. Eagerly anticipating her corn-on-the-cob and applesauce, you can imagine the shock when she was suddenly face-to-face with a big, red crab, claws and all.
If you’re looking to get your steamed crab fix this summer, here are three of our family favorites. They aren’t all on the True Blue Maryland seafood list (yet), though, so you may wish to search their directory for other options near you.
Harris Crab House, Grasonville, Md. A True Blue Maryland spot, this Kent Island crab spot is large, loud and popular. As long as you’re prepared for the wait, you’ll enjoy delicious crab overlooking the waterway. And, be sure to visit their adjacent ice cream counter after. Just be warned that the kids’ crab platter does, in fact, contain crab. 😉
Abner’s Crab House, Chesapeake Beach, Md. When we need a beach fix, fast, we head to the little town of North Beach in Southern Maryland. Just over an hour’s drive south, there’s a city beach with a protected shallow water area that’s perfect for younger kids looking to splash and build sandcastles. (The pricey out-of-towners admission is worth it for clean bathrooms and showers/changing stalls, in my opinion.) After a day on the beach, we head to this no-frills creek-side restaurant for crabs. (There is a gaming room, so be prepared for questions about why there’s an “arcade” that kids can’t go in. We try to eat outside on the deck, anyway.)
Quarterdeck, Arlington, Va. Okay, so this spot is decidedly lacking in seaside air, but does offer a view of planes taking off and landing at National Airport from its popular outside patio. And, it gets the job done when you need a crab fix without a long drive. Plus, the piping hot cheesy crab dip is full of YUGE lump crab meat and will help keep you sated while waiting for your crab order to be steamed.
Crab houses do often require a fair amount of waiting time; it’s important to bring a few light reads…
Of course, they also tend to have brown paper in place of table clothes, so kids can get their art on too. And, it’s hard to beat a meal that you get to whack with a wood mallet!
What’s your go-to spot for summer seafood? Please share! And yes, she may still be a little skeptical of the crab experience… but she eats them.
Have you ever heard Washington referred to as Paris on the Potomac? I don’t know where that comes from, but it is true at least one weekend out of the year — Georgetown French Market weekend! Extended to a third day this year, the festive open air market takes place all along Book Hill and Wisconsin Avenue from Friday, April 29 through Sunday, May 1.
It’s no secret that the foodie tot is something of a Francophile. Here she is lunching with a friend at a Parisian cafe last summer …
… okay, so that was just the American Girl cafe, we haven’t made it to the real Paris just yet. But we did have a terrific girls’ day at the Georgetown French Market last spring, despite a chilly, gloomy day. (Much like this year’s weather — but don’t let it deter you! There are plenty of shops and cafes to duck into if you need to warm up. Or, find a band playing and dance to keep warm!
This charming video shows some of the fun from last year — watch closely and you’ll catch the foodie tot, twice!
Our top French Market picks:
Crepes from the Cafe Bonaparte stand
Beautiful dishes from MK Porcelain
Pastries from Patisserie Poupon
Designer kids clothes — and hair bows galore! — from Little Birdies Boutique
If You Go: kid-friendly entertainment (face painting, performers and more) takes place Saturday and Sunday afternoons, noon to 3pm, in the TD Bank parking lot at 1611 Wisconsin Ave. The DC Circulator is offering free rides uphill, so walk down from the top and catch the bus back, or vice versa. Get all the details on the Georgetown DC website.
Confession time. Have you ever been tempted to “forage” from a restaurant’s herb planters? See, there’s a local salad chain near us that has fresh herbs planted outside. I had been at the grocery earlier in the day and was unimpressed by the state of their oregano. I picked up the better of the meager offerings, but as I headed to lunch at the salad joint, I couldn’t help but notice how much healthier their oregano looked. No, I didn’t pick a sprig this time — but it was seriously tempting!
Herb envy aside, as I planned this recipe for mini quiche I knew I wanted to include feta and herbs. I wasn’t sure what vegetable to include — we are so close to asparagus season here in Virginia, but it’s not at market yet — and decided to go with leeks for a lighter flavor. A couple years ago, we had the chance to create a “foodimal” inspired by Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 for the movie’s release. Have you seen it? A line the kids still repeat, frequently, is “There’s a leek in the boat!” And it just so happens that created the perfect opening to get the kids to try leeks. They’re really quite mellow in flavor, but describing them as similar to onions can be a turn-off. Instead, we eased into them in soup form, and the kids discovered they weren’t anything to be afraid of. Of course, baking anything in a cheesy egg dish is also a good enticement to try it — and these individual quiches are just perfect for an easy and kid-friendly meal. I prefer quiche with a buttery pastry crust, but you could easily make these crustless for a faster and weeknight-supper-friendly version.
After preparing the pastry dough, I prepped the leeks and other ingredients while waiting for the dough to chill. Take the leek, rinse it well, trim the ends (you’ll use just the light green and white stalk, trimming the leaves and reserving for another use) and slice it lengthwise. Place the halves cut-side down on the cutting board and thinly slice them crosswise. Add the sliced leek and olive oil to a small sauté pan and cook them down until tender.
You’ll then set aside the leeks, chopped oregano and crumbled feta. Whisk together the eggs and milk, and you’re ready to assemble.
To cut pastry the right size for a muffin tin, I used the rings for a wide mouth Mason jar. A biscuit cutter isn’t quite big enough, but the Mason jar lids are a perfect 3 inches. Cut the dough into circles and gently press into oiled muffin tins, creasing gently.
From here, simply spoon the cooked leeks, feta and oregano into each pastry shell. Fill with the egg mixture and it’ll bake for about 25 minutes — before emerging puffy, lightly golden and delicious!
Recipe: Mini Feta Leek Quiche
Makes 12 individual quiche
Pastry for one pie crust (or prepared pie crust, thawed)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup whole milk
salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in small sauté pan over medium low heat. Add leek and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until tender. Season with a pinch of salt and couple turns of freshly-cracked black pepper. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a muffin tin and set aside.
Roll out pastry dough and cut into 3-inch circles. Gently press circles into muffin tin.
Add a teaspoon of cooked leeks to each pastry shell. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and chopped oregano.
Whisk together eggs and milk. Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. (Note: feta is often quite salty, so taste first to adjust salt in egg mixture accordingly.)
Spoon egg mixture over leeks in pastry shells, being careful not to fill above the pastry edge.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Let cool for 5 minutes, before gently removing from muffin pan. Serve warm or chilled.
The Sunday Supper tastemakers are making finger foods into a supper-worthy feast this week. Check out the other great sounding recipes below!
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.
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Is your counter overflowing with summer fruits and berries yet? I always have big plans of preserving them but the foodie tots tend to devour them before I have a chance, so I usually wind up making a tiny batch of syrup or jam. But today 8/1 is International Can-It-Forward Day with Jarden Home Brands, and I’m looking forward to picking up some tips for putting up a few bigger batches before the end of the season.
Jarden Home Brands is the licensed marketer of Ball brand canning jars, and they sent us some of their newest products to try out. My daughter was especially excited to see that this year’s featured color is — purple! I was happy to try out the sip/straw lids, which are BPA-free and dishwasher-safe. I had made a small batch of apricot gooseberry syrup, which we mixed with seltzer to make all-natural homemade sodas one afternoon. I think the purple jars are quickly going to replace our regular glasses, but hopefully I can hold onto a few for preserving my favorite summer peaches!
International Can-It-Forward Day will be broadcast live online at FreshPreserving.com from 11AM – 4PM EST from the new state-of-the-art Jarden Home Brands headquarters in Fishers, Indiana. The webcast will have an integrated chat function where viewers can submit their home canning questions to be answered in real time.
Catch the live stream here at 11am Eastern:
The brand new 37th edition of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is a go-to resource for home canning as well, and I look forward to digging into it soon for more inspiration.
GIVEAWAY! Thanks to Jarden Home Brands, one lucky reader will win one case of Ball brand canning jars. Entries will be accepted until 11:59pm Eastern on Saturday, July 8, 2015. To enter, simply leave a comment below sharing what you plan to preserve this summer. (US residents only.)
We’re dishing about Farmstand Food this week for Sunday Supper. To me, the beauty of eating farm fresh food is that it tastes amazing with minimal effort. Take this frittata, filled with summer zucchini and their blossoms, cheese and fresh herbs — quickly prepared and on the table in under 30 minutes.
The word farmstand conjures up memories from my childhood of a place we used to frequent on Oregon’s Sauvie Island. I grew up just across the highway from this 32-square-mile mecca of farmland. The island itself is just 10 miles from downtown Portland, and we would often make a quick drive over the bridge to pick up fresh fruits and veggies during the summer months. Even now, I can’t resist stopping when I see a road-side sign proclaiming “sweet corn” or “fresh peaches.” Of course, we do more of our shopping at the farmers markets, but I think that counts just as well. The point is to savor fresh food grown with care and support the local farmers who provide these beautiful foods for our family table.
As I browsed our neighborhood farmers market last weekend, I spotted these squash blossoms, a favorite summer treat. I love to prepare these stuffed with cheese and fried, but they also lend a delicious flavor to egg dishes. Sometime you can get lucky and find baby squash with the blossoms still attached, but it works just as well to buy them separately. (I always think I’ll get around to planting some summer squash, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.) The foodie tots tend to prefer the bright yellow golden zucchini, so I was happy to find them included with the baby green zucchini and regular yellow squash. The boy used to chow down on the golden ones raw right in the middle of the market, though he might deny that now.
All the ingredients for this supper came from local farms — the baby zucchini and squash blossoms from Spring Valley Orchard (WV), eggs from Smith Family Farm (VA), raw milk Jersey Gold gouda from Spring Gap Mountain Creamery (WV) and milk from our South Mountain Creamery (MD). Oh, and the sage from my deck! I like the earthiness that complements the heady flavor of the squash blossoms, but you could use basil or oregano instead.
To keep the frittata light and fluffy, be sure to slice the zucchini as thinly as possible. I finally pulled out the mandoline slicer I’d gotten for Christmas and it worked perfectly. You want a good melting cheese like Gouda, or swap something creamy like fresh ricotta or creme fraiche if you prefer. Go easy on the sage to let the squash blossoms shine, and a little salt and pepper is all the additional seasoning it needs. I like to serve it with a light side salad and some bread — like the ciabatta from local Atwater’s Bakery. And of course this frittata makes an ideal brunch dish, too!
Squash Blossom, Zucchini and Gouda Frittata
2 small zucchini
6 squash blossoms
2 sage leaves
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil skillet and set aside.
Thinly slice zucchini, using a mandoline if you have one, into rounds. Gently cut squash blossoms in half length-wise and remove stamen. Cut sage leaves into thin slices. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese, zucchini and sage. Pour mixture into skillet, making sure zucchini is evenly distributed around the pan. Gently press squash blossom halves into the egg mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until just barely set in the middle. Switch to broiler for about 2 additional minutes till top is golden. Remove and serve warm.
I’m co-hosting this week’s Sunday Supper with DB of Crazy Foodie Stunts — thanks to the bloggers below for joining us in this celebration of summer farmstand foods. Please hop around and check out what they’re bringing to dinner, and join us tonight at 7pm Eastern over on Twitter to share your favorite farmstand food recipes and inspiration!
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.