Cooks Exchange

These seafood dishes from long-gone Coast restaurants are what memories are made of

Crab meat is an ingredient in favorite dishes from popular restaurants that are no longer on the Coast, such as the Friendship House and Hugo’s in Biloxi, and the La Font Inn in Pascagoula.
Crab meat is an ingredient in favorite dishes from popular restaurants that are no longer on the Coast, such as the Friendship House and Hugo’s in Biloxi, and the La Font Inn in Pascagoula. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

As the tropics heat up so do Coastians’ memories of restaurants and recipes past.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, some folks didn’t realize they would lose family recipes or see favorite restaurants in shambles. Storms take a toll on simple things, too – pictures, treasured books, collectibles or even a favorite toy.

I am not making light of storm damage, but the simple things seem to be more important in the long run. Folks can rebuild, replace clothes and “stuff,” but the small “stuff” becomes the big loss.

Readers still ask for recipes they lost in Katrina 13 years ago.

Today, let’s revisit some recipes from some of the long-gone restaurants. What comes to mind? Friendship House’s crab meat au gratin? Hugo’s mushrooms? Perhaps LaFont Inn’s seafood casserole? These recipes were the dishes from which memories are made. All the recipes use seafood, but what is the Coast known for? Fresh seafood.

Melissa Clark shows how soft-shelled crabs are at their best when broiled until crisp. Serve them on garlic-rubbed toast with a bright parsley-jalapeno sauce.

Readers, if you have old recipes to share, please send them to me, especially the now-closed restaurants.

Cooking for one

A reader named Michelle, who has been following my column since she moved to the Coast in 1992, said she liked the column on cooking for one.

“I’d like to eat the shrimp curry recipe, but it calls for only 1/8 cup of sauce,” she said. “This red curry sauce probably comes in a 4- or 8-ounce jar.

“Do you keep making this recipe to use it up? Me, I’d put it in the refrigerator and forget about it and eventually find a moldy jar and throw the whole thing away,” she said. “How do you overcome this?”

My suggestion is to freeze the sauce in ice cube trays, wrapped with plastic wrap. As soon as the sauce cubes are frozen, remove them and place in a freezer bag. When a home chef needs a small amount of the sauce, remove a cube or two and add to the pot. The cube will melt, and the sauce is not wasted.

I also use freezer containers. I buy all sizes and pour the extra sauce in and freeze it. I save extra tomato sauce, etc. I don’t like to waste food either, especially when specialty items can be pricey.

WOW’em with tasting

Women of Wisdom (WOW) is hosting a tasting of dishes from its first cookbook, “Recipe for Life,” at its monthly meeting Wednesday, Sept. 12, at noon at the Knight Nonprofit Center. The meal is $10 per person, but if the attendee buys a cookbook, lunch is $5.

The cookbook, celebrating WOW’s 20th anniversary, contains more than 300 recipes, and is a ring-bound, hardcover book. Cost is $20.

HUGO’S CRAB MEAT STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Crab meat stuffing:

1 pound claw crab meat, picked through for shell particles

2 sticks butter

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1/2 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped fine

2 stalks celery, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 whole eggs, beaten

Bread crumbs (recommendation: Progresso Italian bread crumbs); divided

Salt and pepper to taste

Mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed

Flour

Buttermilk

Melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sauté until soft. Cool slightly. Add beaten egg and some of the bread crumbs. Stir together.

Add picked crab meat, salt, pepper and parsley; toss lightly. If too loose, add more bread crumbs until mixture holds together somewhat. Stuff mushrooms with mixture.

Any leftovers can be formed into patties and cooked until light brown on both sides in a black cast-iron skillet sprayed with nonstick spray.

Dip stuffed mushrooms in buttermilk, then into flour, then back into buttermilk and then roll in remaining bread crumbs. Drop into deep fryer and fry until golden brown.

– Submitted by Lewis Kelly and Glenda Simons

LAFONT INN SEAFOOD CASSEROLE

1 pound crab meat

1/2 cup bell pepper, finely chopped

1 pound shrimp, cooked, shelled and deveined

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 cups bread crumbs

1 cup celery, finely chopped

1/2 cup melted butter

Paprika

Combine crab meat, shrimp, sour cream, onion, celery, bell pepper, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Pour into butter 2 1/2-quart casserole.

Top with bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 6 servings.

– From “Zonta Cookz”

FRIENDSHIP HOUSE CRAB MEAT AU GRATIN

6 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cup milk

1 cup American cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon sherry

3 cup white lump crab meat

Fresh parsley

Paprika

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, add flour and blend. Add milk slowly, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick. Add cheese and stir until melted.

Add salt, pepper, sherry and crab meat and combine slowly.

Turn into individual baking dishes and place in a 350-degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until piping hot.

Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and a sprig of parsley just before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

– From “Horsing Around in the Kitchen”

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.
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