Clams Oreganate

I am going to give you the long version of making clams oreganate by making your own breadcrumbs.  They are the best.  For some reason making them from scratch are so delicious!!  Growing up in our Italian American family Christmas Eve table was never without out clams oreganate.  Of course they were readily available in our restaurant!

Ingredients:
Garlic Bread
2 loaves of thin crusted french bread (the thicker crust is harder to make crumbs)
1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive OIl
4 cloves of garlic minced
3/4 tsp of oregano
4-5 turns of black pepper
Oreganate Crumbs
2 cups of breadcrumbs either from the garlic bread crumb recipe or store bought Italian flavored bread crumbs
3/4 chopped parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Raw clams on the half shell*
*2 dozen clams serves four people but the oreganate stuffing is enough to stuff 4 dozen clams

Procedure:

For the Garlic bread

  1. Slice french bread
  2. Mix well 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil with minced garlic and dried oregano
  3. Brush olive oil mixture on all the slices of bread placing on 2 cookie sheets
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  4. Toast in oven prewarmed at 325degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown and crisp to touch. If you want to make garlic bread for eating just toast under 2nd shelf under broiler until golden brown.
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  5. You may eat some of the garlic bread but save some to make into breadcrumbs

         For the Oreganate Bread Crumbs

  6. To make breadcrumbs use a food processor or a blender.  For best results make sure that the bread is crisp.
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  7. To make sure there are no big chunks.  Shake breadcrumbs thru a sieve and pulverize the big chunks again.
  8.  Once all pulverized.  Add 1/2 cup virgin olive oil,  2 tablespoons of oregano and mix well and 3/4 cup of chopped parsley2016-09-02-19-03-35
  9. Add chopped parsley and mix well.2016-09-02-19-05-11
  10. Open the little neck clams making sure to not drain the clam water.  Juicy clams are the best!
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  11. Spoon bread crumb mixture onto clams. careful not to pack it down.  It should be fluffy!
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  12.  Drizzle with  a little extra virgin olive oil and bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes and its ready to eat!
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Buon Appetito e Buon Natale!!

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes!

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“Hi Teresa, I figured you would know where I can get bushels of tomatoes.”  “Oh sorry Teresa, we can’t! We are swimming in tomatoes here!” “Hello Teresa, I have brought you a bushel of tomatoes.” So.much talk of tomatoes!! What can I say it’s tomato season in the Hudson Valley!

I always teased my kids and told them I am just not any ordinary mamma but a pasta mamma!  To this day I still can’t get this vision that I have of a pasta mamma out of my head!  I am not quite sure how old I was, but one summer in Italy I came across what I believed was a pasta mamma.  Thank goodness it wasn’t anybody I was related to.  While we were on our way to visit my aunt, we came across a neighbor.  The neighbor upon seeing my dad, ran over screaming in her Neapolitan dialect to give my dad this really exaggerated big hug. It wasn’t because she was short, robust and splattered with tomato sauce that I took notice, but it was her apron!  Her apron had two conspicuously placed well-worn patches across her chest! Mind you the apron was intact except for those two patches.  While my parents were all smiles greeting this woman, my brother and I just stood there looking on with puzzled looks on our faces. Why this well-endowed woman would want to bring more attention to herself by wearing that apron was beyond us!  Unabashed she stood so proud wearing that remarkable apron bragging about the number of jars of tomatoes she had just canned.

I keep thinking about that woman lately every time the subject of tomatoes comes up in discussions this past week. The Hudson Valley farmers as I am sure many of the farmers from where you are from are also busy harvesting tomatoes.  If you don’t have the luxury of picking your tomatoes out of your own garden, I hope you are all taking advantage of those beautiful vine ripened tomatoes from your local farmers.  I just called my co-packer who makes the 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce to order more pallets.   They work with the local farms in our area.  They told me, “Teresa, have a little patience for we are swimming in tomatoes and we are busy!”.

I remember when I was a little girl, my mom, her five sisters and Nonna, would be gathered together wearing aprons (thankfully with no patches across their chests) and their hair tied up in kerchiefs at this time of the year.  My grandfather would start the fire in the pit while all the girls were busy preparing the tomatoes.  Such a happy chore with all of them laughing and singing while sorting, cutting, straining, cooking, pouring, and jarring.  I remember hearing the joyful pop of the lids as the sauce cooled and witnessing the satisfaction on everyone’s faces.

In Italy, my father’s sisters would do the same thing. There were times that we would be in Italy during tomato harvest and the canning of the delicious tomatoes. The tomatoes were so different in Monte di Procida.  The Mediterranean sun is strong and growing tomatoes in the volcanic soil yields the sweetest juiciest tomatoes! All my aunts had their own wood fired ovens to bake bread, pizza and to seal all of those jars of tomatoes.  The ovens were located in cantinas and a whole side of the building was designated for the ovens made of blocks and concrete. The cantinas were free standing buildings away from the house.   My Zia Gilda would bake so much bread that she even had customers!  A summer treat was pizza! The pizza that came out of those wood fired ovens was incomparable to anything I have ever eaten. The crust had a touch of char covered with a few really ripe garden  tomatoes, a basil leaf, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and fresh mozzarella. The pizza was unbelievably delicious! Mind you, my Zia would only make the pizza with the extra dough left over from the bread.    She never thought much of this pizza.  I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t make more of it! But she would often tell me that bread was her first priority.  The pizza was just a little snack. I am still searching for a comparable pizza!  The typical NY pizza we are accustomed to is not the same.

In a town not too far from my dad’s town of Monte di Procida is the ancient town of Baia where Julius Caesar had a villa there (The Castello Aragonese di Baia is open to the public now with museums). The mineral springs in Baia attracted the elite during the Roman Empire.  Most of the ancient town is under water now as a result from a volcanic eruption.  A couple of years ago my brother, sister and I met in Italy.  We decided to go to a historic pizzeria in Baia. What was unusual about this pizzeria was that it was located inside the town bread oven. Yes, you read right!  It was a bread oven so huge that there was a pizzeria built inside of it.  During the Roman Empire it was used to bake bread for the whole town.   We sat inside of this huge hollowed out oven and ate pizza and imagined Caesar eating pizza here.

Only joking about Caesar eating pizza.  The Pizza Margherita became famous in 1889, 28 years after the unification of Italy.  History has it that when Queen Margherita of Savoy, the wife of King Umberto I, visited Naples, a chef and his wife created a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, tomato, mozzarella and basil! To this day it is still called Pizza Margherita!

Sadly, I don’t own a wood fired oven.  Using the garden cherry tomatoes, the pizza comes out pretty good minus the char.  I have that wood fired oven on my bucket list. I did get Jim, my husband, to make me a fire pit, though!  So I am getting closer.

I hope you enjoy the following pizza recipe as much as as my family and I do.  I used the delicious tomatoes from the garden! No worries if you don’t have a garden, just be sure to visit  farm markets to get those delicious tomatoes that are all the rage.  There is nothing like fresh vine ripened tomatoes.  Even though I am in the business of selling tomato sauce, I won’t lie to you there is nothing like a fresh tomato right off the vine.  Don’t get confused with those grocery store, hot house tomatoes, though! I also have available the jarred 825 MAIN Pizza Margherita Sauce for those months of the year when we can’t get those super delicious garden tomatoes. Even tough I don’t can my own tomatoes, Continue reading

Pizza Margherita

Ingredients:
1 ball pizza dough (you can make your own or buy already prepared at your local grocer)
1 1/2 dozen ripe cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 clove of garlic grated ( You can leave it out of even add more to your liking
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
6 leaves of basil
grated pecorino romano cheese or grated parmagiana cheese
half teaspoon of sea salt
1 small ball of fresh mozzarella cheese

Procedure:

  1. Roll out the pizza dough into a 12 inch circle. Place either on a pizza stone or on a cookie sheet. And preheat oven to 425 degrees.
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  2. Slice cherry tomatoes and grate garlic into a small bowl.
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3. Add extra virgin olive oil and sea salt into bowl of tomatoes.
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4.Place tomatoes on the ROLLED out dough that was placed on cookie sheet. Spread the tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil evenly on the dough. Grate the Pecorino Romano cheese onto the dough. Just a sprinkling all over.
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5. Add the basil leaves
2016-09-05 11.20.32 Continue reading

Spaghetti ala Putanesca

Serves 2.
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This dish was actually invented by an innkeeper in Ischia. The story is that late one night guests were hungry and there was no food left. The innkeeper quickly put together a pasta dish with whatever he had on hand which included some tomatoes, olives, capers and anchovies. He said he put together a “putanatta”. It’s a slang word for throwing together some left overs. But the actual meaning of the word is whore. The following night the customer came in requesting the same thing because it was so delicious. The dish was so delicious that other customers wanted it too! But the chef was reluctant to put it on the menu because he was afraid it was offensive. So he lightened it up a little by calling it Pasta Putanesca.

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Ingredients:
12 vine ripened cherry tomatoes sliced in half
4 anchovy filets
2 garlic cloves- sliced thin
¼ cup of capers
¼ cup of sliced Kalamata olives (about 20 olives)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ cup of sherry
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
Pinch of oregano
½ pound of cooked spaghetti

Note: The measurements of the ingredients don’t have to be exact. Remember it’s whatever you have on hand that makes it special!

Procedure:

  1. Pour extra virgin Olive oil in skillet and add sliced garlic, sliced olives and capers. Sauté on medium heat until garlic becomes golden brown.2016-08-31 17.19.02

2.  Turn off heat and add anchovies and sherry. Turn heat back on to medium and stir breaking up the anchovies until anchovies melt.
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3. Add the sliced cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes must be fully ripened into a bright red. Cook on medium heat until heated through.
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4. Cook pasta to your liking and add to skillet.
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5. Also add a ladle of pasta water.
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6. Add chopped parsley and a pinch of oregano
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Stir well and serve!

Olive & Caper Sauce and Finding My Voice

My favorite part of my job is talking to all the people I meet. This past year at one of my seminars I met a woman who, as soon as I said hello to her, she proclaimed her love for Adams Fairacre Farms (the specialty grocery store in my area where I have my seminars). The woman, having grown up in NYC where her mom bought produce from street carts, explained that the store reminded her of her youth. I must have looked puzzled because she said, “Honey, I am really old! I’m 87.” She didn’t look that old at all! As we chit-chatted, she slipped an Italian expression into our conversation. “You’re Italian!”, I blurted out. My delight encouraged this Signora to tell me about her most interesting life.

When the Signora first got married to her husband, who was an opera singer, they moved to Rome because he had won a scholarship at The Santa Cecilia Conservatory. This was interesting to me because listening to opera was part of my upbringing. My mom grew up listening to opera with her dad and she passed this passion on to us. I loved opera, but I couldn’t sing beautifully like my mom. I asked her if any of her children inherited their father’s voice.

She told me that one of her daughters did inherit her father’s voice. Unfortunately, he didn’t want her to follow in his footsteps. She rolled her eyes as she told me that he had said that women opera singers were divas and he didn’t want his daughter to be a diva.

Later on in life, after she and her husband divorced, she said that she need to sfoggare, which in Italian means to unleash or vent. When she turned 70 she started write and she has since written 6 novels. And one of them is called The Diva!

Her story affected me and I can’t stop thinking about her. My blog musings are typically about growing up in a restaurant family. I am never very specific about my role in the family, but after speaking with the Signora, she gave me the courage to sfoggare!

It was a struggle being a female in a male-dominated family. I am not saying women weren’t important in my family, but they had certain roles to play that came from the pre-war mentality of provincial Italy. My father’s first born was a girl (me) while his brothers had first born sons. In this large Italian family consisting of aunts, uncles and numerous cousins all trying to navigate a new American life and running an Italian restaurant, I tended to get lost. They preferred me to be seen and not heard, but I wasn’t the quiet type. I longed to be considered, but I learned quickly that I needed to find other ways to get what I wanted.

I was good in school and it was one way of getting some satisfaction and control. I worked hard to get high grades; I won some awards at school and I studied business in college. But it didn’t really get acknowledged in my family. High grades didn’t make a difference in the restaurant business. What mattered was the time and physical labor that you put into it.

After I graduated, I worked for a year as an accountant in a firm. But when my family opened another restaurant, I went back to the family business to give a hand. I worked as a server and hostess, the typical front of house jobs for a female, but I what I really wanted to do was work behind the scenes. I slowly managed to work in the office and I quietly made accounting changes. Business was my passion and I enjoyed learning about the restaurant business. I analyzed the numbers and learned where to focus my attention. When I married my husband I found a great partner. He appreciated and valued what I could contribute, so we teamed up.

Later in life, we had to deal with the passing of my father, but together my husband and I kept the restaurant going and with some perseverance we managed a successful restaurant for 20 years. In 2011, we made the business decision to close the restaurant and change our career paths. And suddenly, I no longer had the restaurant or my husband to lean on and I had to work on my own.

It took me 50 years to find the courage to use my voice. Sometimes I wonder why at my age I am trying so hard to do something new, but then I think of the Signora writing 6 books when she turned 70! So here I am, the face of 825 MAIN. Even though I can’t sing a note, I am finally using my voice!

See our Olive & Caper Sauce recipe.

Olive & Caper Sauce Recipe

Here’s a pasta recipe that was a family favorite!

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Ingredients:
2 garlic large garlic cloves sliced thin
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh Italian parsley
¼ cup of sliced Kalamata olives or Gaeta Olives
¼ cup of sliced green olives with herbs
¼ cup of sliced green French olives
¼ cup of capers (drained)
¼ cup of toasted pignoli nuts (pine nuts)
¼ cup of golden raisins
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 pound of thin spaghetti (either angel hair or capellini pasta)

Procedure:
1. Measure and slice the ingredients and set aside.
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2. Saute garlic in ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil until golden brown.
3. Remove off of burner and immediately add the chopped parsley to stop the browning of the garlic.
4. Toast the pignoli nuts in a small cast iron pan until lightly browned
5. Add pignoli nuts, *olives, capers, raisins and hot pepper flakes to garlic and oil. Heat thru and set aside to cook pasta.
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6. Drain pasta saving a ½ cup of pasta water.
7. Add pasta water to olive and caper sauce.
8. Add pasta to skillet with the olive and caper sauce and heat thru mixing thoroughly.
9. Plate the pasta and pour rest of olive caper sauce on top.

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*you can substitute with your favorite olives. Make sure they are a little bitter, tangy and salty. So delicious with the sweet raisins, the nuttiness of the pignoli and the saltiness of the capers!
Buon Apetitto!

Italian Easter Bread (Casatiello Dolce) recipe

Ingredients:
3-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon of dry vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup of orange juice
1 tablespoon warm honey
2 oz of Strega Liquor
11-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (10-1/2 tablespoons softened and cut into tablespoons; 1 tablespoon chilled)
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Preparation:
1. In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, lemon zest, vanilla and cinnamon at low speed.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/4 cup lukewarm water, 1/3 cup warm orange juice and honey.
3. While the mixer runs at low speed, pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium-low and continue mixing.
4. Add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing completely before adding each. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
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5. Place the dough in the large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a cold oven with the door closed for about 12 to 15 hours, until the dough is nearly tripled in volume.DSC_0108DSC_0110 (1)
Rub your hands with flour, sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with some flour, and turn out onto a floured board. Sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough. Divide in half
6. Prepare 2 small pans with a high edge. Line with parchment paper.
7. Fold the edges of the dough into the center and place seam side down into the prepared pans. Cover with a damp tea towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free spot at room temperature about 3 to 5 hours, until dough is just above the top of the mold.
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8. Place the rack in the lower third (closer to the bottom than the middle) of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. (If the dough is too high in the oven, the top will brown before the middle is cooked, resulting in a burned top crust.)
9. Use a serrated knife to score and X across the entire surface of the dough. Place 1/2 tablespoon chilled butter in the center of the X in each dough.
10. Bake in the preheated oven about 45 minutes to an hour, until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out slightly moist but not wet or doughy. To keep the Easter bread from getting too dark I put a piece of parchment over each loaf and then remove the last 15 minutes.
11. After its cooled you can frost with a meringue and sprinkles. Or you can make a glaze heating anisette with sugar and then glazing with sprinkles. Or plain with just some powdered sugar.
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Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter!
Continue reading

Italian Salsa Verde

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Ingredients:
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon (or more) fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon (or more) black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (packed) chopped Italian parsley ( Italian parsley is the flat-leaved variety as opposed to the curly “moss” variety common in Britain and the United States. Flat-leaved parsley can usually be found at continental stores, where it is often called “continental parsley”. Its flavor is far more pungent than curly parsley, and for this reason it is generally used as a flavoring in Italian dishes rather than as a simple garnish. For Italian recipes where parsley is specified, try to obtain the flat-leaved variety; other parsley can be used as a substitute, but the flavor of the finished dish will not be quite the same. Dried parsley is tasteless.)

1 tablespoon drained capers (The small, green herb buds lend a piquant sour and salty flavor to salads, dressings, sauces, vegetables and a variety of main dishes. Capers are particularly common in Sicilian cooking, although from puttanesca sauce to the Milanese sauce with anchovies, the little berries can be found the length of the boot.)

2 anchovy fillets, minced

Procedures:
Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl.

Using back of wooden spoon, mash to paste. Whisk in lemon juice, then olive oil in thin stream until blended. Stir in parsley, capers, and anchovies. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired. DO AHEAD Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature and re-whisk before using.

Scallops Belvedere Recipe

Served over Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Green Beans.

Ingredients:
8 (Dry) Sea Scallops (serves 2 people)
1/3 cup white wine
3 drops of tabasco sauce
4 sprigs of fresh Rosemary (pull apart leaves off of 2 sprigs and roughly chop) (save 2 sprigs for serving)
½ cup of Seafood Stock or Chicken Stock
Salt to taste around ½ tsp
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley
4 tablespoons of butter
1 sliced clove of garlic
4 sundried tomatoes julienned
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons  Canola oil (used for frying and sauteeing garlic)
Flour for dredging
Your favorite mashed potato recipe
Steamed green beans

Procedure:

  1. Wash dry sea scallops and pat dry.
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  2. Dredge  dry sea scallops in flour, generously coating each scallop.
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  3. Pour 1/3 cup of canola oil in skillet.  Heat until smoking hot!
  4. Sear scallops to a golden brown.  Don’t be concerned if they are cooked thru. This is just to get a golden crust. About 3-5 minutes.  Do not overcook.
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  5. Remove scallops from pan and set aside.
  6. Drain most of the canola oil.  Leave the skillet crusty with a bit of oil that’s left.
  7. Deglaze the skillet with 1/3 cup of white wine over low heat stirring.
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  8. Add 3 drops of tabasco sauce
  9. Add chopped rosemary,1/2 teaspoon of salt and ½ cup of seafood stockDSC_0710
  10. In a separate skillet saute the one clove of sliced garlic until golden in 2 Tbs of canola oil. Quickly take off the burner and add the 2 TBS pf chopped parsley.DSC_0711
  11. Add the garlic sauce to skillet.
  12. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 sundried tomatoes sliced into julienne strips.DSC_0712
  13. Once it all comes to a simmer add the prepared scallops and heat thru.DSC_0715
  14. Place mounds of mashed potatoes on each plate.
  15. Mound mashed potatoes with scallops.
  16. Dress plate with steamed green beans and sprigs of rosemary.
  17. Lastly pour the sauce over the prepared plate.DSC_0718

Buon Appetitto!!

Soft Shell Crabs Parisienne-Style Recipe

Cleaning and preparing soft shell crabs for the Parisienne Sauce

  1. Flip the soft shell crab oversoft shell crab underneath
  2. Remove the stomach flap on the center back of the crabsoft shell crab stomach flap
  3. Underneath the flaps on the front of the crab are the lungs.soft shell crab flap for lungs
  4. Remove the lungssoft shel crab lung
  5. Remove the eyessoft shel crab eyes
  6. Remove the beard underneath the eyesspft shel crab beard
  7. Prepare batter for the egg battered soft shell crabs. Beat 3 eggs with a pinch of saltsoft shel crab prep
  8. Rinse soft shell crabs in water.
  9. Dredge in flour on both sides and underneath the flaps toosoft shell crab in flour
  10. Dip floured crabs into beaten eggs and coat well.soft shel crab in egge batter
  11. Heat a pan with oil until very hot.
  12. Place back of crab into the frying pansoft shel crab dredged
  13. Lower heat and fry 5-8 minutes on each side. There will be a lot of splatter so keep a splatter guard on pan.
  14. Drain the crabs on paper towels and now they are ready for the Parissiene sauce!
  15. Place soft shell crabs in the Parisienne sauceincludes soft shel crab parissienne 045
  16. Cook until sauce is thickened and serve!

Buon Appetito!