Sliders: Sliding into Comfort

By Michael Araj

The burger. Is it the perfect food? It’s hand held, it’s meaty, and it’s topped with salad on it half the time (yes, lettuce, tomato and onion counts as a salad in my book). It is the ultimate blank canvas. The ultimate piece of art.

We made sliders for the Superbowl this year (along with the chicken wings), and they did not disappoint. We used the buffalo sauce from the wings recipe as well as a condiment with some fresh mozzarella. This recipe allows you to innovate and improvise as much as you want. Going Whole30? In one of the photos, you’ll see that we replaced the dinner rolls for butter leaf lettuce, and replaced the cheese and buffalo sauce for a tomato salad on top.

So give this recipe a shot and create your own piece of art.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh ground beef (we used bottom round that we ground ourselves, you can use store bought but we highly recommend grinding your own or buying from a reputable source).
  • 2  tsp Italian seasoning (we made our own – dried oregano, basil, thyme, garlic powder, cayenne powder; mix them together and play around with measurements to make it the way you like!)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup buffalo sauce
  • 8 slices fresh mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Mix the ground beef with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, but do not overwork the meat. Formulate into 8 patties, approximately 2 inches in diameter. Push your thumb into one side of each patty in the middle to make an indentation.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan on medium high heat with a little olive oil. Once hot, working in batches, cook the patties 5 minutes on each side for medium doneness. After flipping (only flip once), add the mozzarella after 2 minutes into cooking the second side).
  3. Let drain on a cutting board or other surface and let rest for 10-15 minutes so the juices can reabsorb.
  4. Meanwhile, cut dinner rolls in half (toast if desired). Spread the buffalo sauce on each side of the roll. Add the patty (with the melted cheese) and formulate your sliders. Serve immediately.
  5. Be creative – don’t like Italian spices? Stick with salt and pepper and build a regular slider with ketchup, mustard, mayo and all the usual veg. There’s no wrong answer here – it’s what you like!

Feeling Crabby? She-crab Soup

By Michael Araj

There is a restaurant local to where I work that serves She-crab soup every Friday for its special. While She-crab soup, of course, is in itself special, nobody seems to agree on much about it, what should (and just as importantly, should not) go into its preparation.

The orange tint of most of the she-crab soups that are made come from the crab roe addition to it; however, this can be difficult to find due to crabbing laws and geography depending on where you’re located. Some people add crumbled hard boiled yolks to imitate the texture, others find this sacrilegious.

One thing almost everyone does agree on is that there is something comforting about a seafood bisque-like soup that invokes images of warmth, comfort and sunshine. Below, you’ll find our own recipe for crab bisque. We used Maryland blue crab and seafood stock that was leftover from our Paella recipe. We substituted the traditional grated white onion for shallots for a more mild taste and added the addition of fragrant garlic to enhance the crab meat.

One area you cannot go wrong with any seafood bisque is to add a teaspoon of sherry or other dry white wine to your serving bowl which will add a depth of flavor to the soup. As always, bon appetit!

Crab Bisque

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup seafood stock (preferably homemade, but can use store bought)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 pound crab (preferably blue She crabs, but other varieties will suffice)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Sherry or other dry white wine
  • Chives for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a pot, place milk and stock. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Keep mixture on simmer while working on the soup.
  2. In a large pot, melt butter on medium high heat. Once pan is hot, add shallots. Stir frequently until translucent, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add flour and stir regularly until flour turns brown and bubbles.
  4. Add the hot milk/stock mixture into the soup pot with the flour, stirring while adding. The mixture will start to thicken.
  5. Add crab. Continue to simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is thickened.
  6. Turn off heat and stir in the heavy cream. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let sit for 3-4 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  7. Add a teaspoon of sherry to each serving bowl and ladle soup. (Alternatively, add 3 teaspoons of the sherry to the entire pot. If you wish to avoid alcohol, substitute with apple cider vinegar). Garnish with chives. Serve immediately.