Lenten Feast

In the Finger Lakes region of NY where I live, the typical Friday night meal during lent is a “Fish Fry.”  That means a huge beer-battered haddock filet served with fries and cole slaw.  While this is a delicious treat, we also like to mix it up.

This week I decided to make basil pesto, crab cakes, and artichokes french.


  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • parmesan cheese and sea salt
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff)

Toast the pine nuts in a dry stainless skillet over medium-low heat.  Pop everything into a food processor.  Add the olive oil in a steady stream until you reach desired consistency.  Chef’s tip here:  when serving pesto with pasta – add some of your reserved pasta water to thin your pesto and make it cover all of your pasta.

Crab Cakes

  • 1 lb. lump crab meat
  • 1 celery stalk
  • fresh Italian parsley and fresh thyme
  • juice from half a lemon
  • sea salt
  • Old Bay seasoning (or use celery salt and paprika)
  • ground mustard
  • granulated garlic
  • one egg
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • Canola oil

Finely mince the fresh herbs.  Chop celery to very small dice.  Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl – you are looking for a consistency that is able to be worked into patties (think ground beef for a hamburger).  Chef’s tip here:  Place the crab cake patties on parchment paper and let them rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking.  They will hold together much better.  When ready to cook, pan fry in Canola oil flipping once to get golden brown color and texture.

Artichokes French

  • whole artichoke hearts (I use canned Cento brand)
  • flour, eggs, and Panko (breading station)
  • fresh lemon juice
  • Canola oil and butter

Drain the artichokes, then work them through a breading station (flour, then egg, then Panko).  Shallow pan fry in a skillet with hot Canola oil and a small pat of butter.  Turn to get all sides of the artichokes golden brown.  Spritz with fresh lemon juice as you turn the artichokes.  Chef’s tip:  you can make a great pan sauce – remove the artichokes but retain all the pan drippings.  Add more lemon juice and white wine.  Reduce; then add pats of butter toward the end of cooking to thicken.



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