The annual Crab Cake Cook-Off was among the festivities held at Coast Day on Sunday, October 1, at the University’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. Sponsored by the Sea Grant College Program and Graduate College of Marine Studies, Coast Day is designed to be a day of discovery focusing on the ocean and its resources.
Gail G. Koller of York, Pennsylvania, won first place with her “Black-and-Blue Crab Cakes.” Koller’s crab cakes were named for the fresh, cracked pepper sprinkled on top of her crab cakes and the finely ground blue cheese that she added to a sauté of butter, celery, shallots, and wine. Along with the coveted title of “Delaware’s Best Crab Cakes,” Koller received a $150 cash prize, a plaque, and an invitation to return as a judge for next year’s competition.
“I enjoyed myself immensely during the cook-off,” Koller said. “I have never entered any cooking contest before, so winning was a total surprise. I am really looking forward to being a judge next year.”
Earning second-place honors and a $100 cash prize was 13-year-old Zachary Scudlark of Milton, Del. His “Just Peachy Crab Cakes” used a surprising combination of red chili pepper, Peach-Hot Pepper Jelly, and Louisiana Cajun Seasoning to make crab cakes with a sweet, but spicy flavor. Scudlark was not a stranger to the competition — he was also a finalist two years ago. “I was really excited and was a little less nervous this year,” said Scudlark.
Jenn Willoughby, a junior at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, Del., won the $75 third prize with her “Extra Yummy Crab Cakes.” Saltines, onion, green pepper, milk, mustard, white pepper, and cayenne were among her ingredients. “It was a lot of fun,” said 16-year-old Willoughby whose mother was also a finalist in the competition. “There were so many people around watching. Everybody was so nice and interested in what I was doing.”
Last year’s winner, Carol Hunter, returned this year as a judge. “I enjoyed judging very much,” Hunter said. “Last year was such a blur — winning first place was furthest from my imagination. Being able to return as a judge this year gave me the opportunity to relax and enjoy the festivities.”
Also judging the event were two local chefs from Rehoboth Beach, Del. — Mark Steele, a chef at the Lamp Post Restaurant, and Steve Griffith, a chef at Victoria’s Restaurant at the Boardwalk Plaza. The crab cakes were judged for originality, composition, taste, and texture.
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 Koller, Scudlark, and Willoughby, the finalists included Charlese Ann Smith from Bishopville, Md., and from Delaware — Cyndi Timko, from Newark; Jo Dryden, Georgetown; Tip Tribbitt, Hockessin; and Terri Carr, Lewes. The recipes included both traditional-style ingredients and recipes that had a slight twist in the ingredients.
“This year, we had a very enthusiastic group of finalists,” said Doris Hicks, seafood specialist for the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service and organizer of the annual cook-off. “A professional chef, a mother and daughter, and two students were among the finalists. Terri Carr and Jenn Willoughby are mother and daughter, and Zachary Scudlark and Jenn Willoughby are students in the Cape Henlopen school district.”
Each finalist received a copy of the commemorative Coast Day Crab Cake Cookbook. The 50-page, spiral-bound booklet, published by the University’s Marine Communications Office, contains all of the finalists’ recipes from the first 10 years of the contest. Copies are still available from the Marine Communications Office in Newark at (302) 831-8083, or the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service in Lewes at (302) 645-4346. The cookbook costs $3.
COAST DAY 2000 CRAB CAKECOOK-OFF WINNING RECIPES
FIRST PLACE — “BLACK-AND-BLUE CRAB CAKES”
by Gail G. Koller
2 pounds lump crab meat
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
4 tablespoons finely chopped celery
4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons flour
4 egg whites, beaten till frothy
2 tablespoons (heaping) crumbled blue cheese
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Fresh, cracked pepper
1/2 cup peanut oil
Pick through crab to remove shell. Melt butter in sauté pan. Add celery and shallots, and sauté for three minutes. Add wine, stir in flour, and continue cooking, stirring constantly for three minutes. Set aside, and let cool slightly.
Mix together all other ingredients, except crab, egg whites, and cracked pepper. Blend in wine mixture. Gently fold in crab and egg whites. Form into 10 cakes.
Put peanut oil into pan, and get oil hot on medium heat. Add crab cakes, frying approximately three minutes on each side.
Remove from pan, drain on paper towels, and top with cracked pepper. Remove from towels and serve.
SECOND PLACE — “JUST PEACHY CRAB CAKES”
by Zachary Scudlark
2 pounds backfin blue crab meat
2 tablespoons red chili pepper,
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
3 egg whites, beaten
2/3 cup Lewes Dairy milk
3 teaspoons Louisiana Cajun Seasoning
(or Old Bay Seasoning)
8 tablespoons melted butter
(6 tablespoons in crab cake,
2 tablespoons to cook)
2 tablespoons Peach-Hot Pepper Jelly*
Mix all ingredients in one bowl with a wire whisk. Form into cakes, and put in a hot skillet with melted butter. Cook on low heat until golden brown, being careful not to burn sugar from hot pepper jelly.
*Available at Peppers, Beautiful Foods, and Bozie Produce; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
THIRD PLACE — “EXTRA YUMMY CRAB CAKES”
by Jenn Willoughby
2 pounds lump crab meat
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup saltines, crushed
1/2 small onion, diced
1/3 cup green pepper, diced
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, snipped
Mix eggs, saltines, onion, green pepper, milk, mustard, white pepper, and cayenne. Gently add crab meat and parsley. Shape into patties. Cook in oil until brown on both sides. Drain and serve.