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Chef Patti Anastasia
Serving Southern New Hampshire since 2003
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Table Talk » Cook With What You Have Challenge - Day 1 Cajun Crab Cakes
My friend and fellow personal chef Tami over at Garden, Grocery, and Gadget Girl issued a Cook with What You've Got challenge for the week of January 18. The purpose of the challenge is that rather than buying more food for the week, you cook with the food that is already in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. The challenge has some leeway and you can buy fresh produce, milk, etc. But the goal is buy as few groceries. Tami also challenged us to donate the difference between to what we normally spend on a week's groceries and what we spent on produce for this week to an organization providing relief to Haiti. The challenge officially starts on Monday, but I started today.
On Friday, I poked around in my fridge, pantry, and freezer and saw what I had on hand and thought about what I wanted to use up this week. I made some basic plans for meals and decided on the vegetables that I wanted to go with those meals. Grocery shopping on Friday took less than 15 minutes. I bought 15 items, 14 of them from the produce department, the 15th item was was hemp milk. Yesterday we made a donation to Doctors Without Borders.
The challenge starts with taking pictures of your food supplies. Here are mine.
As you can see, I have a lot to work with. But, for me, there is a twist. I'm eating vegan before 6pm as an experiment to reduce my meat and dairy consumption. So, I'm not going to be making a dent in that freezer full of organic beef (we bought 1/4 of a organically raised cow in October).
My breakfast today was two of those frozen waffles from the freezer with peanut butter and some fruit. Lunch was a veggie burger. Dinner tonight was my first challenge cooking. I had three 6 oz packages of Maine crabmeat in the freezer. I bought them around Thanksgiving for $2 each because they were close to their use by date. I brought them home them home, popped the covers off the packages, vacuum sealed them and tossed them in the freezer. Tonight they because Cajun Crab Cakes. I was inspired by this recipe from Eating Well, but I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand, so I did some substituting. I had 18 ounces of crab meat, so instead of using just the egg white, I used a whole egg. I had just under 1/2 cup of whole wheat panko and an unopened container of regular panko, so I used a mixture of whole wheat and regular panko.. I had half of a red onion in the fridge, so rather than using a small onion, I used the red onion, I didn't have green bell pepper, but I have some red ones, so I used red pepper instead of green. I also lined the pan with nonstick foil and heated it in the oven while I mixed the crab cakes. And I breaded both sides of the crab cakes.
In making the crab cakes, I used crab meat from the freezer, part of a red pepper that I bought last week and didn't use, finished an open bag of whole wheat panko, used a cut red onion from the fridge, and one open jar of light mayo.
The sauce that went with the recipe didn't have good reviews on the Eating Well site so I found this sauce on AllRecipes. Again, I made a bunch of substitutions. I don't like the flavor of mayo, but I like the body it gives to a sauce. I used 50/50 mayo and nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Didn't have any Creole mustard, I used Dijon mustard and some Creole seasoning. I had an open bottle of cocktail sauce in the fridge and an unopened bottle of chili sauce in the pantry. I used the cocktail sauce. Didn't feel like chopping scallions, celery, and garlic (I have all of them), so I left them out. Can't skip the capers, I finished up an open jar. The resulting sauce was delicious.
In making the sauce, I finished off another open jar of mayo, an open jar of capers, a lemon that was on it's way out.
For side dishes, I made parmesan toasts, two English muffins from the freezer, some butter, and parmesan cheese. We also had lima beans from the freezer.
Our meal was delicious. There are two crab cakes left for Tom's lunch. I made a little bit too much sauce, but I'll use it on my veggie burgers this week.
We had a delicious meal, and some items that have been sitting in my food stores for a while are now gone. I'll definitely make the crab cakes and sauce again.
Here are some links to other Cook What You've Got posts:
Cook What You've Got Challenge Headquarters: http://www.facebook.com/dineindiva
Garden, Grocery, Gadget Girll: http://gardengrocerygadgetgirl.blogspot.com/
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Check out these blogs for more Make What You Have Challenge posts:
Primethyme said… (on January 18, 2010 at 17:13 PM #)
I didn't know you were doing a semi-vegan diet! And all that meat! Good for you P.
Patti, Congratulations on Day 1! What a nice variety you ended up with. I love that feeling of using up the lemon, the jar of capers, etc. I am going to get cooking any minute and will report on dinner soon.
Patti, Thanks for the recipe. And thanks for the reminder to USE UP WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE IN THE PANTRY.
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