Monday, September 5, 2011

Crab Manicotti

I used to hate making manicotti.  I found it impossible to cook and stuff the dried tube things without tearing them.  It would often take three or four boxes of shells, just to get a dozen manicotti..  Then I learned a wonderful fact: real manicotti aren't extruded tubes, but crepes.  A simple four ingredient blender batter and a small frying pan is all it takes for a quick dozen non-tearing manicotti shells which can be made ahead of time and even frozen.  Wifey loves it when I make these for Valentine's Day.

  • Shells
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/2 cups flour (188g)
    • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • Butter
  • Filling
    • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
    • 2 cups ricotta
    • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 minced garlic clove
    • 2 tablespoons died basil
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 8 ounces lump or jumbo lump crabmeat
  • Final Dish
    • 1 quart pasta sauce
    • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
    • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • Shells
    • Blender
    • Small non-stick frying pan
    • Parchment or wax paper
    • Stovetop
  • Filling
    • Large mixing bowl
    • Mixing Spoon
  • Final Dish
    • 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish
    • Oven

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat.  Put the eggs, water, four and salt in the carafe of a blender and mix on low speed until smooth.  Melt about a quarter teaspoon of butter in the pan and wipe it out. You just need a thin coating to prevent sticking and it will last for two to three shells.  Pour two to three tablespoons of batter into the pan and tilt the pan to spread the batter evenly over the pan.  Cook for about one to two minutes.  Lift one edge of the shell with a rubber spatula and flip.  Cook for a minute.  Stack the finished shells between layers of parchment or wax paper.  

Mix the cheeses, garlic, egg and seasoning together in a large mixing bowl.  Fold in the crabmeat gently, trying not to break it up too much.

Final Dish
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Spread about a quarter cup of sauce over the bottom of the pan.  Take each manicotti shell and place a thick line of filling across the center of the shell.  Roll the manicotti and place in the baking pan.  When all the shells are cover with a layer of sauce, then spread the mozzarella and parmesan over the top.  Bake for 25 minutes.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

BBQ Sauce

Does anyone remember the local restaurant chain Rib-It. I loved their ribs, especially on Mondays for all you can eat. What made the ribs so good was their BBQ sauce. They even used to sell it in local supermarkets, and it was the only BBQ sauce we used at home. When Rib-It went out of business we struggled to find a decent BBQ sauce until Mom found her mother's (Mommom's) BBQ sauce recipe. Apparently we ate Rib-It's sauce because it was the closest tasting sauce to Mommom's.

Mom and I did some test batches, including a night where we made four different sauces and ate a LOT of chicken, and made some tweaks to the original recipe. I've also made some of my own "unauthorized" changes to get the recipe below. The recipe makes about a gallon of BBQ sauce, which I freeze in quart containers. I use so much I make three to four batches per year. You can easily half the recipe for a trial batch.


  • 2 cups minced onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 cup minced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 - 8 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 - 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Tobasco Chipotle sauce
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp celery salt
  • 4 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil


  • Knives
  • Cutting board
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • 8 qt Stockpot
  • 6 qt Stockpot
  • Blender
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle

Heat oil in 8qt stockpot and sauté onion, green pepper, and celery until soft (about 3 minutes). Add remaining ingredients and simmer for two hours. Liquify in blender and move to 6qt stockpot. Simmer until desired thickness (about an hour or two).
Then get to the grill and Enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Flying Fish Exit 9

Exit 9

Exit 9 in a Glass
Making their next exit of the NJ Turnpike, the Flying Fish beer bus rolls off at Exit 9 and into the campus of Rutgers University. In 1869, Rutgers beat Princeton in the first ever college football game. To differentiate the teams, Rutgers players wore scarlet hats and handkerchiefs which in 1900 became the school's official color and eventually led to their current nickname of the Scarlet Knights. To celebrate Rutgers' red heritage Casey and the boys made Exit 9 a "Hoppy Scarlet Ale" and they aren't kidding about either part. Exit 9 is hoppy and scarlet.

Exit 9 pours bright red with a slightly tan head that dissipates almost immediately. Hopped with four different hops (Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook, and Citra) Exit 9 smells amazing; floral and citrusy, it practically begs you to drink it. On the pallet, however, the hops pummel the tongue with bitterness. Rolling in at a staggering 9% ABV, Exit 9 makes no attempt to hide it's alcohol either. The first taste is bitter and hot. Fortunately Exit 9 aslo has a strong backup of malt which smooths out the bitterness before you finish your sip. I really enjoy pairing wine and beer with food and the side label of the Exit 9 bottle recommends paring with sharp cheddar cheese, which I did. WOW!!! I've never had a beer's flavor change so much. The beer is good on it's own, but for my money, I might never drink Exit 9 without cheddar again.

Overall, Exit 9 is a really good beer, but not for everyone. I liked it; friend Angel liked it; Pop and Wifey did not. But Pop did like it more with cheese.


P.S. Instead of my FF pint glass, I pulled out the Phillies glass since I plan on drinking Exit 9 when I watch the opening day game where one of these guys will be pitching.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kuttered Krimpet Sundae

Pitches and catchers reported to spring training today, and in honor of Phightin' Phillies and the Phearsom Phoursom I took two more Philly favorites and created a closer that could give 2008 Brad Lidge a run for his money. Local peeps know how much TastyKake supports the local teams, especially the Phils, and Breryers has been a Philly legend for over 100 years.  I've been trying to do my part to keep the Tasty Baking Company from going under so I always have Butterscotch Krimpets around (the jelly ones aren't so great), and with Wifey pregnant, we always have ice cream too. Combining two of my favorite desserts seemed like a great idea, but I wanted to add a little texture, so I cut open and toasted the Krimpets. The rest, as they say, is history.

  • Two Pack Butterscotch Krimpets
  • 1/4 tsp Butter
  • Breyers Vanilla Ice Cream (or maybe butter pecan)
  • Butterscotch Topping

  • Cutting board
  • Serrated knife
  • Small non-stick frying pan
  • Ice cream scoop

Cut the Krimpets in half vertically, trying to not separate the iced side. Heat a small (8") non-stick frying pan over medium heat and melt a small amount of butter in it. Wipe out the melted butter with a paper towel, leaving a thin layer of butter (it's plenty). Place the krimpets in the pan cut side down until the bottom browns slightly (about a minute). Move the toasted Krimpets to a plate and top with two scoops of Breyers ice cream and drizzle with butterscotch topping.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

(Not) Chef Mark's Guacamole

Next week is the [REDACTED] and whether you are a cheese head, waive a yellow towel, or like most of us whose team didn’t make the [REDACTED] you can probably agree that every [REDACTED] party needs some guacamole. Unfortunately the [REDACTED] is played in January February and not between May and November, otherwise I would just go to the Collingswood Farmers Market and buy the best guacamole ever. When the farmer’s market is open Chef Mark Smith, chef/owner of the Tortilla Press in Collingswood and the Tortilla Press Cantina in Pennsauken spends his Saturday mornings cooking breakfast and selling his hand-made tortilla chips, salsa, and the world’s best guacamole.

Since I can’t go to the farmer’s market, and I’m not sure if Mark does take-out, I “stole” his recipe. After a painstaking process involving a centrifuge, a trip to the Fermilab particle accelerator and a few calls to this guy, I developed this recipe for a passable facsimile of the best guacamole ever.

  • Hass Avocados
  • Plum Tomatoes
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Vidalia Onion
  • Jalapenos
  • Limes (juiced)
  • Salt

I base the amounts of the ingredients on the number of avocado’s with an N-1 approach. For 4 avocados it use 3 tomatoes, jalapenos and limes. The onion, cilantro, and seasonings I mix to taste.

Avocado ripeness: Hass avocados are grown year round in California and distributed nationwide. You can tell how ripe an avocado is from both its color and firmness. Ripe avocadoes are purplish-black and firm, yet giving. If you squeeze the avocado in your hand it will almost feel like it has a soft layer right under the skin. Green avocados need to ripen and mushy ones or ones with soft spots are over-ripe.

  • Citrus reamer
  • Knives
  • Cutting board
  • Mixing bowl and spoons
  • Potato Masher
  • Liquid Measuring cup


Dice or chop the onion. Remove the stems and seeds from the tomatoes and jalapenos then dice. Clean, dry and chop the cilantro and set all the chopped ingredients

Avocados brown quickly when exposed to air, but mixing with a little acid prevents the browning. My technique is to juice the limes into a measuring cup and pour a couple tablespoons of lime juice into the mixing bowl before touching the avocados. For the first three avocados, peel and mash each one into the bowl with the lime juice before moving on to the next one. Add a little lime juice (1/4-1/2 tsp) with each avocado. Depending on how chunky you like your guacamole, you can chop instead of mashing all or part the last avocado. My preference is to chop half the last avocado.

Fold as much of diced tomatoes, jalapenos and onion as desired. Add about a tablespoon of the chopped cilanto and about a teaspoon of salt.

Refrigerate the guacamole for about an hour to let the flavors build, then adjust the lime juice, salt and cilantro to taste.

Other notes: I think the NFL is stupid for not being so restrictive with [REDACTED] and forcing people to use the term “Big Game” instead, especially considering the creation of the term [REDACTED] is disputed.