Crab PizzaOur summer is starting to come to a close. We’ve been making sure to get plenty of beach and boating time before it does, but…it’s coming, whether we like it or not.

That’s not to say that I don’t adore fall…really, it’s my favorite season! Chilly mornings with hot coffee, the leaves turning, and most importantly – cheap, fat crabs. They’re down to $50 a bushel here on the Eastern Shore, which makes a spontaneous crab feast on a Saturday afternoon totally doable. Which is precisely what we did last weekend…

We ate our fill, then had plenty leftover to pick the next day. Ended up with close to 3 lbs! Of course I had to make a batch of my creamy crab dip, and I’ll be making some crab cakes to freeze. But, I wanted to do something a little different this time around.

Last month we took a cruise up to Seacrets in Ocean City in our friend’s pontoon boat (thanks, Captain Luke!). A few cocktails were consumed, as well as this delicious pizza. They actually call it “crab toast”… to which, I call bullshit. It’s a crab pizza, and it’s absolutely delicious.

I kept it simple, the crab is the star ingredient here, and it should shine. A light covering of a simple garlicky white sauce, topped with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and the crown…jumbo lump crab. Now, let me just go ahead and put this out on the table – don’t use canned crab. Ever. For anything. The quality is absolutely critical for an application such as this. So, if you can’t get the good stuff , just don’t bother.

That’s why we have to get while the gettin’ is good here. Another bushel will probably be on the menu this weekend!

Source: inspired by Seacrets Crab Toast

Raspberry Mascarpone Tart

Is it just me, or have the berries this year been especially good? From the berries that I’ve picked myself, as well as my standards I pick up every week in the grocery store – they’ve all been exceptional. This simple tart really gives them an opportunity to shine as well!

I just used my standard pie crust for the tart base, and it turned out fine. I found that if I chilled the dough really well in the tart pan before blind baking – it reduced the shrinkage factor. I think those mini Phyllo shells would also work wonderfully,  and single serve would be great for get-togethers.

The filling is super simple – sweet and rich from the mascarpone, with a little tang from the addition of cream cheese. Then to top it off, a pile of gorgeous red ripe glazed raspberries. A drizzle of chocolate ganache would be a another nice addition, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. I wanted to really let the berries shine, and shine they did…

Fresh Raspberry Mascarpone Tart

1 pastry crust, rolled out
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the topping:
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup apple or strawberry jelly (not jam or preserves!)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Roll-out dough on well-floured work surface, to about a 13 to 14 inch circle or big enough to fit an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Ease dough gently into pan, pressing against the bottom and sides, folding remaining dough over the edge. Roll over with a rolling pin to cut off excess dough. Line with foil. Fill with raw beans or pie weights and bake 10-12 minutes. Remove beans and foil and return to the oven. Continue baking for another 5 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Set aside to cool.

For the filling, add cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute until creamy, reduce mixer to low and add the confectioner sugar and cream, as well as vanilla. Add in the mascarpone last, beating until just combined. Carefully add the mascarpone mixture to the cooled tart shell. Place into refrigerator to chill while you prepare topping.

Add the jelly to a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s completely melted. Let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully pour the syrup over the berries and toss gently to coat.

Gently pile berries on the top of the tart, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Driscoll’s Berries. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Buttercream

There are few flavor combinations that I love more than lemon and blueberry. The sunny bright flavor from the lemon, and the subtle sweetness and gorgeous hue from the berries. I baked these lovely cupcakes for a Relay for Life radio auction here on the lower Shore, but I managed to keep a few to enjoy and take a few pictures of so I could share the recipe with you guys!

As always, I used my favorite vanilla cupcake and vanilla buttercream recipe, then glammed it up a bit. Some lemon zest and lemon extract in the cake batter gives it that lemony punch that I was looking for. For the frosting, I cooked fresh blueberries down a bit with some sugar to soften up, then pureed and added to the buttercream. It creates a gorgeous color, that just screams “spring”!

Garnish with a single, fresh blueberry – and you’ve got yourself one delicious cupcake. This makes a large batch too, usually for me it ends up being around 30 cupcakes. I never have a problem getting folks to take them off my hands though, I’m sure you won’t either! Take advantage of all the delicious berries popping up in stores right now, and make these cupcakes soon.

Coconut Macadamia Muffins

We had alot of snow days this year. So many in fact, that to make up the days (and ensure that our kids weren’t in school until the 4th of July!), they’ve extended the school day by 45 minutes until the end of the year. They’re going in 15 minutes early, and getting out 30 minutes later. So, our morning routine has been squeezed a little tighter lately.

Enter a good, homemade muffin. I ended up with a half a can of coconut milk the other day, so I thought a coconut muffin would be a good use for it. I also added plenty of toasted shredded coconut, and some macadamia nuts for a little decadence and crunch. They turned out so wonderful, and we enjoyed them for breakfast all week long! The tropical flavors really taste like spring.

Speaking of spring, have you guys seen the new spring prints from Hen House Linens? They’re absolutely gorgeous. I can never say enough wonderful things about their linens, they wash and wear wonderfully.  I use them everyday in my home, just not for the staged photos that I share here…but at my table – morning, noon, and night. The lovely ladies over in the hen house have graciously offered up a set of 4 dinner napkins for giveaway. To enter, just leave a comment telling us what is your favorite thing about spring! Contest will run today to April 9, at 11:59 PM. (Congrats to winning entry #22 – Lisa!)

henhouselinens

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, fun-filled with egg hunts and lots of chocolate. We’re looking forward to dying our eggs and having a small egg hunt in our new backyard for the first time, and of course attending the Annual Easter Decoy & Art Festival here on the island. This is the weekend that everything really starts to open-up again here on our little island – spring is definitely in the air!

Source: adapted from A Taste of Thai