Anne Haley earned the honor of making "Delaware's Best Crab Cakes" in front of a large crowd at the University of Delaware's annual Coast Day festival on Sunday, October 2, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
Haley, a resident of Bethany Beach, Delaware, won first place with her "South-of-the-Border Crab Cakes with Lime Yogurt Chutney." Her winning recipe used cilantro, chili powder, and two jalapeño peppers giving her crab cakes a spicy flavor. She then served them on a bed of chutney made from yogurt, grated lime zest, and lime juice. She dressed up her entry with a slice of lime, chopped tomato, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro as a garnish. Haley received a $150 cash prize, a plaque, and an invitation to return as a judge for next year's competition.
"I've been cooking for a long time, but I have never entered a cooking competition before," said Haley. "When I saw the advertisement, I decided to try and come up with a recipe that would appeal to everyone. My crab cakes were a little spicy and hot, so I served them with a chutney that was made from yogurt to cool the flavor down."
Earning second-place honors and a $100 cash prize was Raymond Bahr of Catonsville, Maryland, with his recipe titled "Maureen's Favorite." Bahr used Old Bay seasoning, ginger powder, and balsamic vinegar to give a unique flavor to his crab cakes.
Bonnie Robinson of Seaford, Delaware, won the $75 third prize with her "Lower Delaware Classic Crab Cakes." She used scallions and red and green peppers to give her classic-style crab cakes a touch of color. Robinson placed second in last year's competition.
Last year's winner, Erica Culbert, a resident of Philadelphia, returned as a judge for this year's competition. Also judging the event were Chris Bisaha, a partner in Fins Fish House and Raw Bar in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and Reed Hellman, a freelance author who writes a monthly "food adventures" column that reaches 250,000 readers.
Eight finalists competed in the cook-off, setting up their favorite appliances under a tent to prepare their recipes in front of the judges and interested onlookers. In addition to Haley, Bahr, and Robinson, the finalists included Don Doud, from Merrimac, Massachusetts; John T. Gillen, from Lewes, Delaware; Terry Ann Moore, from Oaklyn, New Jersey; Jacquie Miller, from Ocean View, Delaware; and Kimberly Retallack, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
"Coast Day is definitely the place to be for crab cakes," said Doris Hicks, seafood specialist for the Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service and organizer of the cook-off. "Local vendors were selling them like hotcakes, and contestants in the cook-off were busy cooking them. This year's contestants were amazing and, once again, gave the judges a workout.
"One thing we have learned over the years is that everyone has a good time and some very creative and talented cooks come dazzle the judges, many for the first time and winning," Hicks added.
Each finalist received a copy of the commemorative Coast Day Crab Cake Cookbook. The 50-page, spiral-bound booklet, published by UD's Marine Public Education Office, contains all of the finalists' recipes from the first 10 years of the contest. Copies are available from the Marine Public Education Office in Newark at (302) 831-8083 or the Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service in Lewes at (302) 645-4346. The cookbook costs $4.
Coast Day 2005 Crab Cake Cook-Off Winning Recipes
FIRST PLACE — “SOUTH-OF-THE-BORDER CRAB CAKES WITH LIME YOGURT CHUTNEY”
by Anne Haley, Bethany Beach, Delaware
South-of-the-Border Crab Cakes:
2 pounds lump crab meat
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
melted butter to brush crab cakes
Lime Yogurt Chutney:
2 1/2 cups plain, nonfat yogurt
1 teaspoon lime zest, grated
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
To make South-of-the-Border Crab Cakes: Fold ingredients together, and form cakes. Let stand in refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours. Just before baking, brush cakes with melted butter. Bake on cookie sheets at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
To make Lime Yogurt Chutney: Stir ingredients until incorporated.
To serve: Serve South-of-the-Border Crab Cakes on top of chutney with a slice of lime, chopped tomato, and sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
SECOND PLACE — “MAUREEN'S FAVORITE”
by Raymond Bahr, Catonsville, Maryland
2 pounds lump crab meat
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (Cento)
1 cup fresh, white bread crumbs
2 whole eggs plus two more egg yolks
4 tablespoons mayonnaise (Hellman's)
1. Clean crab meat of shells.
2. Add Old Bay Seasoning, ginger, parsley, and vinegar to crab meat, and toss lightly.
3. Form hole in center of crab meat, and tear small pieces of white bread to fill hole.
4. Lightly whisk eggs and yolks, and pour on top of bread crumbs.
5. Add mayonnaise, and lightly toss all ingredients until uniform.
6. Form into eight crab cakes, and refrigerate.
7. Turn on oven broiler, and cover pan with aluminum foil.
8. Lightly brush pan with olive oil.
9. Place crab cakes on pan, and broil until tops are golden (5 minutes). Do not flip.
10. Turn oven off, remove crab cakes from broiler, and place in oven chamber for an additional 5 minutes. C'est tot!
Maureen enjoys her crab cakes with roasted fennel hearts; corn slaw; fresh, sliced Delaware tomatoes; and a chilled glass of Italian sparkling wine.
THIRD PLACE — “LOWER DELAWARE CLASSIC CRAB CAKES”
by Bonnie Robinson, Seaford, Delaware
2 pounds crab meat
1/3 cup tender scallions
1/3 cup green and red pepper, mixed
1/3 cup celery
1 teaspoon butter
1 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs with crust removed
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons seafood seasoning
1 cup dry Italian bread crumbs
1. Sauté scallions, peppers, and celery in butter on very low heat until tender.
2. Beat eggs.
3. Add mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, white pepper and scallion mixture, seafood seasoning, and bread crumbs.
4. Add crab meat, and toss lightly.
5. Make into cakes, and roll in Italian bread crumbs.
6. Fry in very hot peanut oil.
7. Serve on decorated plates.