The Hunt has its breakfast, steeplechase, its tailgate picnic. The Kentucky Derby has its mint juleps, burgoo, whiskey cake and black bottom pie. But the Derby is only the first of the Triple Crown races, so it is high time we had a grand old food tradition for the other jewels in the Crown, Maryland's own Preakness and New York's Belmont Stakes.
Belmont -- to be held this weekend -- ought to be easy. After all, according to legend it was in New York that the race world's caterer, Harry M. Stevens Co., invented the hot dog. As the story goes, on a cold spring day in 1901 in the old Polo Grounds, Harry Stevens himself sent out for sausages, boiled them and stuffed them lengthwise into rolls, then sent his hawkers through the stands shouting, "Get 'em while they're hot." Hearst cartoonist Tad Dorgan tagged them "hot dogs."
Maryland's Preakness actually did once get a good start on a food tradition. Not only did the idea for the Preakness originate over lunch; it used to be known as the Dinner Party Stakes because the losers were expected to fete the winners at a dinner party. The menus themselves, however, never became part of Preakness tradition. A recent attempt to promote the Black-Eyed Susan as the official Preakness drink has not met with much success. But then a syrupy concoction of fruit juice mix, vodka and rum has a long way to go to match the fresh, icy -- and indigenous -- mint julep.
The diversity of Maryland's food is a rich resource for a Preakness Menu.
One day of sampling on the Eastern Shore yields plenty of possiblities: crabs, oysters, clams and fresh garden produce. It makes most sense to start with crab cakes. And agin, Harry Stevens can give a boost. In Maryland, his company's crab cakes are as famous at the track as Native Dancer. The less bread, the better the crab cake Chef Hans Ruppenthal's rule, and his seasoning of chopped parsley, eggs, mayonnaise, dry mustard, dijon mustard, white pepper and worcestershire sauce is tradition worth maintaining.
Many of the old Maryland cookbooks named menus after the homes in which they were served. In keeping with that tradition and in hope of a new one, this is the first Deep Silver Farm Preakness Menu. Nobody would object to trying it out this year on the Belmont Stakes. Maryland crab cakes with lemon wedges and tartar sauce, scalloped oysters, fried chicken Baked wild rice, cole slaw, potato salad, marinated vegetable platter Biscuits, pumpernickel, rye and white yeast rolls Sweet butter, assorted relishes Strawberry pie, lemon pie, brownies Coffee, iced tea, lemonade, beer MARYLAND CRAB CAKES (4 to 6 servings) 1 egg 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon dijon-style mustard 1/8 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (cayenne) 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper 1 pound fresh lump or backfin crabmeat 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley 1 to 2 tablespoons crumbs made from bread or unsalted soda crackers Flour Vegetable oil for deep frying 1 lemon cut into wedges Tarter sauce
In a deep bowl, beat the egg lightly with a wire whisk. Add the mayonnaise, mustards, red pepper, hot pepper sauce, salt and white pepper and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Then add the crabmeat, parsley and crumbs and very gently toss together with a fork. Try not to break up crabmeat. Leave lumps as large as possible. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions, and shape each of these into a ball about 2 inches in diameter.Roll lightly in flour. Wrap in waxed paper and chill the cakes for 30 minutes.
Pour oil into a deep fryer or large heavy saucepan to a depth of 3 inches and heat the oil to a temperature of 375 degrees. Deep-fry the crab cakes 4 at a time, turning them with a slotted spoon, for 2 or 3 minutes until they are golden on all sides. As they brown, transfer them to paper towels to drain. Arrange the crab cakes with the lemon wedges on a heated platter. Serve at once, accompanied by tartar sauce. SCALLOPED OYSTERS 1 stick butter 1 to 11/2 cups freshly rolled cracker crumbs 2 pints oysters Salt and freshly ground pepper Hot pepper sauce 1/2 cup oyster liquor 1/2 cup heavy cream
Buttered bread crumbs
Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and cover with a layer of cracker crumbs. Add a layer of half the oysters and another of cracker crumbs. Dot with butter and add seasonings. Make another layer of oysters and another layer of cracker crumbs. Dot again with butter and add seasonings. Pour the liquids over the top. Finally sprinkly with buttered bread crumbs. Bake 25 minutes at 400 degrees.
Note: I use Ritz crackers. If doubling the recipe, us only 1 1/2 times the liquid. BARBARA WATSON'S BISCUITS 3 cups bread flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup chilled butter 1/2 cup milk
Sift dry ingredients together into large mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is mealy.
Food processor method: Put dry ingredients and butter into processor bowl fitted with steel blade. Turn on and off until mixture is mealy. Remove from processor and put into large mixing bowl.
Add milk gradually, mixing with a fork, until you can gather mixture into a soft ball. Do not use your hands for this step.
Roll out on a floured surface and cut into desired size. Bake in 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve piping hot with butter. FRESH STRAWBERRY PIE 3-ounce package cream cheese Cream for softening 9-inch baked pie shell 1 quart fresh strawberries 1 cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 cup whipping cream
Spread cream cheese, blended with sufficient to soften it, over bottom of cooled, baked pie shell. Wash berries, hull them and drain well. Place half of the berries (the choicest) in the cheese-coated pie shell. Mash and strain remaining berries until juice is well extracted. Bring juice to boiling point and slowly stir in sugar and cornstarch, which have been mixed together. Cook slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and pour over fresh berries in pie shell. Place pie in refrigerator until very cold. Decorate with sweetened whipped cream before serving. From "Maryland's Way Cook Book"