Vegan Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Aioli

By Jenne Clairborne
Sweet Potato Soul, May 2016

Photo Credit: Jenne Clairborne/Sweet Potato Soul

It’s Preakness Stakes Week in the Charm City.

Did you know that the first run of the Preakness Stakes was in 1873 and was named by a former Maryland governor after a winning colt at Pimlico. The race has been termed “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” because a blanket of yellow flowers altered to resemble Maryland’s state flower is placed around the winner’s neck. Attendance at the Preakness Stakes ranks second in North America among equestrian events, only surpassed by the Kentucky Derby.named by a former Maryland governor after a winning colt at Pimlico. The race has been termed “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” because a blanket of yellow flowers altered to resemble Maryland’s state flower is placed around the winner’s neck. Attendance at the Preakness Stakes ranks second in North America among equestrian events, only surpassed by the Kentucky Derby.

And the quintessential food associated with Baltimore and the Preakness are the  Maryland Crab Cakes.Baltimore-Style Crab Cakes are also unique to the Mid-Atlantic city.

But for  those who may be allergic  to shellfish, there is a vegan option created by Jenne Clariborne. She is the vegan blogger behind Sweet Potato Soul. She was raised in Georgia and LOVES food. So she creates vegan versions of some of her favorite foods, in order to make healthier, more vegetable-forward dishes.

These crab cakes  are so good, you will forget that they are completely vegan from the first bite. I know I did!


1 can chickpeas
2 cans hearts of palm, chopped into large pieces
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
1½-2 Tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon umeboshi plum vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 cup Panko bread crumbs + ½ cup for coating

For the Red Pepper Aioli
½ cup vegan mayo
4 roasted red peppers (from jar, and dried off)
1/4 cup dill, fresh
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black pepper

Place the chickpeas, hearts of palm and jalapenos into a food processor and pulse to combine and mash. Don’t over process it though, you still want some crabby texture.

Scoop the chickpea mixture into a large bowl and add the vinegar, Old Bay, mustard, mayo and 1 cup panko breadcrumbs. Stir well to combine.

Place the remaining ½ cup of panko in a shallow dish.

Heat an oil coated skillet on medium-high heat. Form the “crab” mixture into small patties-making sure to pack the mixture tightly, and then coat in the panko in the shallow dish.

Pan fry for 3 minutes on each side.

Do this with the remaining batter. I usually fit 5 patties on the skillet at a time. When they are cooked, transfer them to a plate covered with paper towel.

Serve with a dollop of red pepper aioli and fresh greens. Parenting Team FC Contributor

Spatchcock Roasted Cornish Hen in a Hibiscus Rose Petal Sauce

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This recipe is adapted from  an earlier posting “Quail in  Rose Petal Sauce” It is an absolute delicacy, revealing flavors you may never have experienced before. In this recipe,  the combination of the anise, roses, and chestnuts alone is sufficient to offer this dish absolute distinction.  I added my own twist with the addition of dried hibiscus flowers and some left over blood orange syrup  from another recipe.

I could not find any fresh quail, so I opted for Cornish game hens, one is a perfect serving for two if you like to share.  I used the spatchcock technique.

A spatchcock is a historical term for a culled immature male chicken, but increasingly denotes a preparation technique. The spatchcock, also known as “spattlecock”, is poultry or game that has been prepared for roasting or grilling by removing the backbone, and sometimes the sternum of the bird and flattening it out before cooking. The preparation of a bird in such a manner for cooking may also be known as butterflying the bird. The term “spatchcock” is used when the backbone is removed, whether or not the sternum is removed. Removing the sternum allows the bird to be flattened more fully.

Spatchcocking a chicken allows the bird to be flattened allowing the meat to cook more quickly and thoroughly. Don’t be intimidated by the name. There are several on-line tutorials giving you a  this step-by-step guide to help you master this kitchen skill and have any type of poultry roasting in no time.


Serves 4

For the Cornish Hens:
4 Cornish game hens
1/2 Tablespoon dried thyme
1/2  dried sage
8-10 sprigs fresh marjoram sprigs
1 teaspoon  salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

For the Hibiscus Rose Petal Sauce:
10-12 fresh chestnuts
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced fine
1 teaspoon  ground anise seeds or  whole star of anise
10 edible roses with slightly open blooms, petals only,
10 dried hibiscus flowers
2 plums, peeled, pitted and chopped, or raspberries
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons fine quality honey
1/4 cup blood orange syrup (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

For the Cornish Hens:
Preheat the oven to 375 ° F.

Using a pair of good kitchen shears, take the Cornish game hens and cut alongside the backbone (from tail to neck).  In a small bowl, mix together the thyme, sage, salt and pepper.  Rub the  oil all over the hen  Rub the herb mixture all over the hen.  Scatter the marjoram sprigs all over the bottom of a baking dish.  Place the seasoned hen, skin up, on top of the marjoram sprigs.  Wrap foil around the wingtips.  Roast for about 45 minutes or until the leg bone feels loose when you tug on it.

For the Rose Petal Sauce:
Using a sharp paring knife slit an “X” into the flat side of the chestnuts. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Using a large saucepan, bring a quart of water to a boil and drop in the chestnuts. Boil, uncovered, for about 20 minutes and drain. Set aside to cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel the shells and the thin, papery “pellicle” away from the “meat” of the chestnut. Put them aside.

Melt the butter in a skillet, using it to sauté the garlic and anise seed until they are lightly browned. Add the hibiscus and rose petals and chopped plum and continue sautéing for a minute or two.

Place in a blender the petal mixture with honey, salt, pepper, and the cooked chestnuts. Puree in the blender while slowly adding 1 cup of chicken stock.

Strain the puree into a skillet, add the blood orange syrup (if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly.

Reheat the sauce. Add the hens to the sauce, making sure they are all covered completely. Cook and stir for about three minutes.

Serve with a plain white rice to absorb the fragrant sauce, if desired. Parenting Team FC Contributor

Almond-Crusted French Toast with Raspberries

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Challah is the bread of choice here because it really absorbs the custard, creating an eggy, sweet version of French toast similar to the pain perdu of New Orleans. Crunchy almonds, fresh raspberries and fragrant orange zest bring this classic breakfast dish to a whole new level.

Serves 4

6 eggs
1 cup half-and-half
2 Tablespoons sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
3/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 thick slices challah or other egg bread, preferably day-old
Canola oil or clarified butter for cooking
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup  fresh raspberries
Pure maple syrup, for serving

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, sugar, orange zest, almond extract and vanilla. Add the bread to the egg mixture and turn gently to coat evenly. Let stand until the bread has soaked up some of the egg mixture, about 1 minute.

Preheat a griddle over medium heat until hot; a few drops of water flicked onto the surface should skitter across it. Lightly oil the griddle. Spread the almonds on a plate. Remove the bread, 1 piece at a time, from the egg mixture, letting the excess liquid drip back into the bowl. Dip one side of the bread into the almonds, pressing gently to help the nuts adhere, and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Place the bread slices, almond side down, on the griddle and cook until the nuts begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the slices and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the slices, almond side down, to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the center of the bread is heated through but is still moist, about 10 minutes.

Serve the French toast hot, almond side up, topped with a handful of raspberries and drizzled with maple syrup. Parenting Team FC Contributor