Whidbey Recipes

"Well, within the past week, I've been fried, broiled, baked and roasted, followed by cool, so cool it could raise goose bumps on the Devil.You've already guess it, of course; we're not on the Island right now. Having goose bumps we could be, yes, but fried, broiled, baked and roasted we couldn't be, at least not until next August or September. No, we're now deep in the southwest, namely Palm Springs, where it seems a lot of the Island population is apparently spending it's time getting their hair cut, according to recent editions of The Record.Had I known, I'd have been there ready to be shorn because it would have helped a lot to be without hair this past week. John and I spent the week at the newly built, fabulous tennis stadium in Indian Wells, Calif., watching some of the finest tennis players in the world do each other in, somewhat in the manner of the old gladiators, except that there's no blood. It would have been ideal had the temperature not soared into the nineties just as the entire Tennis Masters at Indian Wells tournament began and there we were, slathering ourselves with SPF45 and zinc oxide ointment and anything else we could get our hands on, trying to belay getting mummified while watching a small yellow ball get bashed back and forth over a net by two or four people who are doing this on a court that has reached temps of 110 degrees-plus! They are getting paid a great deal of money to do this; we are not. As Shakespeare pointed out, What fools we mortals be! And as someone else said, Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun. (Or something like that). Then, along about 4 o'clock every afternoon, when the heat buildup in the concrete stadium was about maximum, we abandoned the oven of the tennis stadium and leapt into a car that'd been sitting in a parking lot all day, interior temp. about 100 degrees, and dashed off for a quick shower and change, after which we took off for the annual Dixieland Jazz Festival to hear some of the coolest jazz, swing and dixie music this side of the Mississippi. And, because a lot of the people who come to immerse themselves in this weekend of the finest of cool music also come to dance, and dance, and dance, all the various rooms in which these hot bands play are air-conditioned, down to where's my sweater temps. It's cool; in all ways, it's cool.So, from fried to frozen, why am I telling you this? Only because every time we leave the beloved Island, we discover, once again, that there's a great, wide, wonderful world out there and guess what, some places, it's HOT out there! And that's cool.RecipesIt's only when I suddenly find myself in warm climes that I realize how much the temperature does have an effect on what we feel like cooking and eating. As I said in the beginning of this column, I've been overdone (heat-wise) this past week, but chilled out with cool music and air conditioning - going from one extreme to the other in no time. So, from hot to cold, here are dishes that are the best of both - hot and cold. We begin with every Islander's favorite cold-water creature, crab, then heat things up a bit.Cool Crab with Hot Sauce2 cups breadcrumbs (plain or seasoned, your preference)1 egg, lightly beaten1 lb. fresh crabmeat1-2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced1 T. finely grated Parmesan cheese1 bunch cilantro (yes, the whole bunch), roughly chopped1-2 cloves garlic, finely mincedSalt and pepper, to tasteFor the sauce2 red bell peppers1 small red chile (serrano, Thai, Asian, whichever is available)2 shallots, sliced1 sprig thyme1-2 garlic cloves, crushed8 whole black peppercorns1 Roma tomato, sliced1 cup vegetable stock (or chicken stock)4 T. dry, white vermouth or dry sherry1 T. white wine vinegarIn a bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, egg, crabmeat, jalapeno, minced garlic, cilantro, Parmesan, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and set aside.Make sauce: Peel the red peppers with a vegetable peeler or char in oven, place in plastic bag for a few minutes, then peel. Cut peeled peppers in half, seed and coarsely chop. Seed and chop the red chile. Place peppers in a saucepan with shallots, thyme, garlic, peppercorns and tomato. Add stock, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until chiles/garlic are soft. Add vermouth and vinegar, bring to a boil and reduce sauce for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Return to pan; reheat and simmer gently until ready to serve crabcakes.To cook crabcakes: Heat peanut oil in a large skillet until hot but not smoking. Spoon generous tablespoons of the crab mixture into the hot oil and cook on each side until golden. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with the hot pepper sauce, on a bed of lettuce leaves, as an appetizer. Serves 4.Can there be a finer combination of hot and cool than cool mayonnaise blended with a super hot chile then chilled and ready as a dip for crunchy, roasted vegetables? Try it, next time you need a hot cool appetizer.Chilly Chile Dip for Hot VeggiesVegetables, such as small artichokes, asparagus, fennel, leeks, red green and yellow bell peppers, etc.Olive oilSea saltFor the dip1 red habanero chile (careful, this is the hottest of the hot)3-4 garlic cloves, crushed2 egg yolks ( or equivalent egg yolk substitute)3 T. white breadcrumbs4 T. white wine vinegar1 cup olive oil1 T. boiling water (optional)Pinch of saltPrepare the vegetables: Parboil artichokes, drain. Brush all vegetables with olive oil; sprinkle with sea salt and cook under a broiler or on a grill pan on top of the stove or grill until browned but still crunchy. For the sauce: Place the chile under a broiler and roast until the skin is blistered and browned; place in a plastic bag for a minute, then use a sharp knife to peel off the thin outer skin. (John does this in the garage or basement with a long-handled fork and a Map Torch, available in hardware stores, which saves me the time and saves the house from the odor of the charred chiles; do not do this unless you're familiar with hand-held gas torches, but it's a wonderful way to skin chiles.) Pull out stem and seeds and smash the chile a bit with the flat side of a knife or whatever is handy. Place smashed chile, garlic, egg yolk or substitute, breadcrumbs, salt and vinegar in a food processor and puree to a smooth paste. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture becomes a thick sauce. If mixture becomes too thick, thin with boiling water. Use as dip for the roasted vegetables. Also excellent as dip for raw vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, celery/carrot sticks, etc."

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