Crab Cakes with Fennel and Arugula Salad and Homemade Mayonnaise

Okay, so I cheated a bit with this dish.  I bought pre-made crab cakes.  I know, I know.  BUT my farmer’s market has a seafood stand that makes amazing crab cakes and I wanted something fast so…  Anyways, to make up for it, I made homemade mayonnaise.

I have always been a bit intimidate by homemade mayonnaise.  Perhaps it’s the propensity to separate or the need for all that whisking.  Whatever the reason, this time I decided to tackle my fears.  Homemade mayo requires patience and a whole lot of whisking.  So much whisking that my elbow was sore for a good hour after.  However,  I am so glad I mastered mayo because it really, truly amazing and bears no relation to the stuff that comes out of a jar.

Crab Cakes with Fennel and Arugula Salad and Homemade Mayonnaise

Crab Cakes

Arugula

Fennel

Tomatoes (I used early girls)

Homemade mayonnaise*

Lemon

1.  Place ‘bed’ of arugula on each plate.  Cut tomatoes and place around arugula.

2.  Thinly slice fennel using a mandoline or a knife if you don’t have one.  Place on top of arugula.

3.  Mix some of the mayo with lemon juice to taste.  This is the ‘dressing’.  Drizzle over top of arugula.

4.  Fry crab cakes in a small amount of olive oil until golden and heated through. Place on top of arugula and add a scoop of mayo to each crab cake.

*I used this recipe from the NY Times and made it with olive oil: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/12459/Mayonnaise.html

Soft, Shimmery Shades for Fall

As much as I love black, sometimes I want something a bit softer.  Shades of cream, gold, camel and white look elegant and feminine.  Gold accessories add some oomph and take an outfit from casual to a bit more chic.  What do you think?  Do you prefer black or a softer neutral palette?

Soft, Shimmery Shades for Fall
J.Crew j crew / Calypso St. Barth / J.Crew j crew / J.Crew high heel pumps / Maison Martin Margiela hi top sneaker / J.Crew leather clutch purse / Gorjana stud earrings / Jennifer Zeuner chain necklace / Chan Luu scarve

By Nord Graphic Pillows

By Nord

I adore these graphic pillows from the Danish brand By Nord.  They are prints of Greenlandic people on cushions.  All of the prints are these rather stark black and white.  They provide a nice contrast to more rustic items like the bench and coffee table in the image above.  Of course, not everyone may want photos of people on their cushions so By Nord also makes lovely nature inspired prints like the one below.

Cauliflower Gratin and Béchamel Sauce

I love gratins.  All kinds, especially in the fall.  The basis for a good gratin (if you don’t want to make the full-fat, full-cream version) is a good béchamel sauce.

For those of you that are not familiar with béchamel sauce, in addition to being the foundation for gratins, it is also used for homemade mac-n-cheese, lasagna, and anywhere else you need a creamy sauce.  At its most basic, it is milk thickened with flour.  The flour serves two purposes: to thicken the milk and to keep it from separating during cooking.  For this cauliflower gratin, I added a very sharp white cheddar, dried mustard and thyme to the béchamel to create the sauce.  I then topped it with crunchy panko and voila, a yummy, creamy, perfect-for-fall dish.

Cauliflower Gratin

1 medium head of cauliflower cut into florets

2 tbsp butter

1 heaping tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk*

1 1/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar (the sharpest you can find)**

1/2 cup panko

1/2 tsp ground mustard

3 sprigs thyme

1. Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a cast-iron skillet or other over safe pan with non stick spray and add cauliflower in even layers.

2.  Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and stir briefly until mixed.

3.  Add a very small amount of milk and stir briskly until mixed.  It will get really thick.  Add a little more milk and stir again to mix.  Keep repeating this until all the milk has been added.  It is important to only add a very small amount at a time so you don’t end up with lumpy sauce.

4.  Add the thyme, mustard and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir and simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

5.  Remove from heat and add 1 cup of the cheese (reserve 1/4 cup) slowly while stirring constantly.

6.  Pour sauce over cauliflower.

7.  In a small bowl, mix together panko, the remaining cheese and 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Spread mixture evenly over cauliflower

8.  Bake 25-30 minutes until cauliflower is tender and top is golden.

*I use whole milk for a creamier sauce and because I think it is healthier for you.  When you take the fat out of milk, you leave all the sugar and your body cannot process the sugar without the fat.

**I never use pre-grated cheese for two reasons.  One, it doesn’t taste the same.  Two, they add cellulose (wood pulp) to the cheese to make it not stick together.  Ick!

Take a Risk!

By Hyperlog

In a way I’ve always played it safe.  Okay, maybe not most peoples definition of safe.  I did move to Hong Kong for work for a year when I had never been to Asia.  I did go on solo voyages to exotic sounding places like Morocco, Laos, and Hungary.  I did sell all my belongings except what I could fit into two suitcases and spend 6-months traveling for work around the US before finally landing a home in San Francisco.  Safe?  Maybe that isn’t the right way to put it.  Maybe the right term is responsible.  I have held a job steadily since I turned 20.  For the past 13 years, I have only left a position when I had something else lined up.  I have lived within my budget and not accrued debt.  I have never been fired and I have stayed in positions for the long-term.  So yes, responsible and safe.  Until now.

By Danielle LaPorte

I am 33-years-old and I am a buyer for a national catalog.  This is the kind of job that women dream of, the kind of job that when you tell people what you do it elicits responses like, “You’re so lucky!” and “I would love to do that.  How did you get that job?!”.  Instead of being content with my position and career, I have decided to quit my job, move to Paris, and go back to school for my MBA.  Oh, and did I mention that I don’t speak French?  But I will.  I’m learning.  This decision isn’t safe and it isn’t responsible; I will be taking on a huge amount of debt and subjecting myself to an uncertain future.    It is however thrilling, core-shaking and absolutely the right choice for me to make.  You know the certainty you feel when you follow your heart and you just know deep down in your core that what you are doing is the right thing for you?  I feel that.  I know this is right.  That doesn’t mean I’m not scared.  I’m terrified!  But there are no guarantees in life and sometimes you have to risk it all in order to go where you were meant to be.

Friday Finds: Cozy Up for Fall

With the cool weather of fall, I really just want to curl up on a covered porch with a good book and watch the rain. Here are a few items to cozy up with this fall.

Cozy Up for Fall
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