Smith Island Cake

If there is one item that’s long been on my baking “bucket list”, it would be the Smith Island Cake. Baked by the wives and mothers of waterman on Smith Island to send off with their husbands and sons, who headed out to dredge oysters for days at a time in the fall and winter on the cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s legendary here on the Eastern Shore, and was named the official cake of the State of Maryland back in 2008.

It’s traditionally 10-layers, individually baked, and then layered and covered with a rich, fudge-like frosting. It’s spreadable when it’s warm, but then solidifies helping to hold the layers together as well as to seal in the moisture. Keeping the cake fresh and moist for the hard-working boys on the water who were out there digging up oysters for people’s Thanksgiving tables.

I finally tackled it for our 10 year anniversary a couple weeks ago, and I’ve gotta say – I don’t know why I was so scared. I used Francis Kitching’s recipe, the legendary hostess and cook of Smith Island. I only ended up with 9-layers, I should have used a little less than 2/3 cup, but I was still so impressed with myself I could barely contain my excitement. The cake baked up nicely, and the fudge frosting was easy to work with. So happy I gave this one a whirl and can finally say I have it under my belt. I look forward to experimenting with new flavor combinations in the future!

Add it to your bucket list , but do yourself a favor and don’t wait as long as I did to make it. It’s so impressive, a perfect cake to make for the holiday season!

Source: Mrs. Kitching’s Smith Island Cookbook

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

Boardwalk Fries

I was kind of shocked when I realized I didn’t have a recipe for good, old-fashioned boardwalk fries here on the site. It’s shameful really. Sure, I have oven fries (which employ the same soaking technique I’ll touch on later) and fish & chips…but I needed to have an entire post devoted to these crispy, salty favorites.

My first taste of boardwalk fries was of course at Thrasher’s in Ocean City, MD…notorious among Marylanders, Eastern Shore folks, and really the entire nation in some cases. That’s because they’re the best. Their first trick is a soak for the cut potatoes in hot saltwater. It helps to remove some of the starch, and softens them up a bit for cooking.

The second key step is the twice-fried technique. The potatoes are cooked in hot oil for one round, basically to par-cook them. They’re then removed from the oil, set aside to drain, and then added back to the oil to attain that beautiful golden brown and crunchy exterior.

Immediately season with salt, and apple cider or malt vinegar. Never ketchup! It’s actually a rule at Thrasher’s…they don’t have it available. The place  next store has a racket selling containers of it at exorbitant prices. We don’t have boardwalks here on Chincoteague, which is just fine by me – but it’s nice to have a little taste of it here at home!

Blackened Fish Sandwich

This winter I’ve been working my way through whittling down our supply of fresh fish that was caught over the summer and fall. Here on Chincoteague – we catch such a variety of fish, due to the fact that we have oceanside and bayside fishing in such close proximity to each other. With just a few fun days fishing on the water, we’re able to stock our freezer with fresh, wild-caught fish to last us through those cold winter months.


Everyone loves a good old-fashioned fish fry, but my favorite way to prepare a nice hunk of white-fleshed fish is to simply season it  and sear in the pan. Incidentally, it’s also one of the easiest ways to prepare fish…perhaps why I love it so much?

I top the fish with some homemade tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato on a lightly toasted roll. I used drum fish on this particular day – but all types work well for this application. Striped bass, mahi-mahi, tilapia, and cod to name a few! I also highly recommend making your own seasoning blend if time allows, I find it’s so much better than any I’ve purchased in the past.

Source: inspired by our favorite sandwiches at Ray’s Shanty