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Eastern Shore Chef’s Challenge Recipes

Aug 03, 2011 07:47PM ● By Anonymous

As Maryland residents, we know there’s nothing like our homegrown, delicious ingredients from local farms, markets, and produce stands. During the summer season, we gobble up vine-ripened tomatoes, chow down on sweet corn, and pick blue crabs for hours on end. That’s why this year, we made the annual Chefs’ Challenge all about local ingredients. The 2011 best chefs, Karen Williams of Back Porch Café/Ken’s Creative Kitchen and David Hayes of Harbour Lights at St. Michaels Harbour Inn, were tasked with creating a delicious four-course meal, each course featuring a different local ingredient: zucchini, watermelon, bison, and a local seafood item of the chefs’ choice. As always, we were amazed by the creative, mouthwatering meals that came out of their kitchens. Read on to learn how the chefs created these dishes and what they love most about Maryland ingredients.

Eastern Shore
Chef David Hayes
Pascal’s Harbour Lights, St. Michaels Harbour Inn
Chef David Hayes might not be from the Eastern Shore, but he sure knows how to cook our favorite ingredients like a native. Hayes hails from Essex, United Kingdom, where he studied at Colchester Institute, and followed up with an internship at Buckingham Palace. Hayes certainly isn’t a stranger to the Shore, though, having also cooked at The Inn at Perry Cabin alongside Chef Mark Salter, as well as working as the executive sous chef at Mason’s in Easton before coming to the St. Michaels Harbour Inn.

Like Williams, Hayes lets the natural flavors of the ingredients shine through. “Keep everything as simple as possible,” he advises. “Simple food is great food.” Hayes has a particular propensity for bison meat, which he says is his current favorite local ingredient. “It’s an underutilized piece of meat,” he says.

Ingredient: Bison
Dish: Local bison tenderloin with crispy polenta cake, roasted tomato hollandaise and sautéed chanterelles.
David says: “A while ago I made a visit to SB Farms, a bison ranch in Hurlock, after I decided to add some bison dishes to my menu. The bison are raised without antibiotics, growth stimulants, or hormones, and the result is a high quality cut of meat that is leaner than beef and, in my opinion, more flavorful.”

Ingredient: Zucchini
Dish: Sautéed zucchini and squash cakes with stuffed squash blossoms and roasted red pepper aioli.
David says: “Using the liquid extracted from the grated zucchini and squash is the key to these vegetable pancakes and really helps marry the flavors. The squash blossom is really versatile and rather underutilized; as a chef it was fun to work with and is the perfect complement to this dish.”

Ingredient: Local Seafood
Dish: Lump crab-stuffed soft shells with asparagus, brioche, and sundried tomato salad confit and lemon aioli.
David says: “I’ve heard many locals talk about their memories of catching soft shells growing up on the Eastern Shore. This is a great seasonal delight and was the obvious choice for this category. It is a staple of the region and what better way to serve it than stuffed with more crab!”

Ingredient: Watermelon
Dish: Caramelized watermelon salad with jumbo lump crab, prosciutto, feta cheese, meyer lemon oil, and balsamic reduction.
David says: “I love the combination of the sweetness of the watermelon with the salty tang from the feta and the acidity of the balsamic. The idea of caramelizing the watermelon came from a dish I worked on back in culinary school and creates additional texture in the salad.”


Highlighted Recipe: Local Bison Tenderloin
With Crispy Polenta Cake, Roasted Tomato Hollandaise and Sautéed Chanterelles

2 six-ounce bison tenderloins
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 cups chicken stock
1 onion, diced
10 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 cup basil, chopped
10 roma tomatoes
4 cups clarified butter
1 pint chanterelle mushrooms
3/4 cup Italian Flat Leaf
4 egg yolks
2 lemons

Season the bison tenderloins with salt, pepper and a little oil. Heat a pan on high; add 2 tbsp of oil and sear each side of the tenderloin. Finish cooking in the oven until medium rare; set aside to rest.

Sauté the onion until soft, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cornmeal, cooking for one minute. Add the chicken stock 1 cup at a time, bringing to a boil each time before adding the next cup. Lower the heat and cook for an additional 10 minutes; spread out on a sheet pan and allow to cool. Once cool, cut into 4 inch squares, forming a polenta cake. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan and sear cake until golden brown on each side. Sautee the chanterelles until golden brown.

Cut Roma tomatoes in half and toss with salt, pepper, oil, and basil and cook for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven; puree in a blender. Mix the egg yolks and juice from one lemon in a heatproof bowl placed over a pot of simmering water; whisk until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon warm water, then slowly whisk in the clarified butter followed by the pureed tomatoes.

Plate the bison tenderloin, top with the sautéed mushrooms and two polenta cakes on the side. Garnish with the Tomato Hollandaise.

Challenge Ingredient: Watermelon
Dish: Caramelized Watermelon Salad with local jumbo lump crab, prosciutto, feta cheese, Meyer lemon oil and balsamic reduction
1 Seedless watermelon, cut into squares
½ pound jumbo lump crabmeat
¼ pound prosciutto, chopped
8 ounces arugula
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 Meyer lemons (zest and juice)
1 pint Soy Bean Oil
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
1 tablespoon green onions, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the watermelon into 1-inch cubes and dust with powdered sugar. Use a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar creating a sugar crust; set aside. Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a pan and reduce by one third; remove from heat and allow to cool. Combine the lemon zest and soybean oil in a blender and pulse until the zest dissolves.

In a mixing bowl combine the crab, feta, lemon juice, arugula, prosciutto, cilantro, basil, and green onions and gently toss with 2 tablespoons of the lemon oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate the watermelon and top with the salad mixture; drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

Challenge Ingredient: Zucchini
Dish: Sautéed zucchini and squash cakes with stuffed squash blossoms and roasted red pepper aioli
2 zucchinis
2 yellow squash
1 cup pancake mix
2 squash blossoms
½ pound lobster tails, cooked and roughly chopped
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 green onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, cut in half length-wise
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons roasted garlic
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 eggs
1 cup flower
1 cup breadcrumbs

Grate the zucchini and squash and spread out on a steamer tray. Dust lightly with salt and cover with another tray of equal size; place a weight on the top tray and leave to drain for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

In the meantime, coat each red pepper half in oil and grill until the skin is charred. Place peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 10 minutes before peeling off the skins and removing the stems, seeds, and white ribs. Blend the red peppers with the lemon juice, garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt until pureed. Add the mayonnaise and mustard and pulse for 30 seconds or until smooth.

Use the liquid drained from the zucchini and squash to prepare the pancake batter. Fold in the grated zucchini and squash and let stand for 10 minutes. Cook the batter as you would a pancake on a hot griddle with butter.

Combine the lobster meat, ricotta cheese, green onions, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and cilantro; gently stuff each squash blossom with the mixture, leaving enough room to fold the end of the blossom closed. Season the flower with salt and pepper, beat the eggs, and spread the breadcrumbs each in three separate dishes. Coat each stuffed blossom first in the flour mixture, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Lightly fry in 350° oil until golden brown.

Plate the zucchini and squash cakes with a stuffed squash blossom and garnish with the red pepper aioli.

Challenge Ingredient: Local Seafood - Soft Shell Crab
Dish: Lump Crab stuffed Soft Shells with Asparagus, Brioche & Sundried Tomato Salad Confit & Lemon Aioli
2 Soft Shell Crabs-cleaned
1/2 lb jumbo lump crab
1 bunch of asparagus-grilled and chopped
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes-chopped
2 tbsp Italian Parsley-chopped
1 tomato-seeded and diced
1 tbsp cilantro-chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 lemons (zest & juice)
1/4 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 cup soybean oil
1 cup Arugula
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 cup club soda
1 cup brioche-cubed

Combine crab, half the mayonnaise, lemon juice, half the chopped parsley and diced tomato; mix gently and stuff in the Soft Shell. Combine the flour, corn starch and club soda in a bowl and whisk until smooth, creating a tempura batter. Dust the Soft Shell with a little flower and dip in the tempura batter; Fry in 350° oil until golden brown.

In a saucepan combine the oil, lemon zest & and half the lemon juice and simmer for 10 minutes; allow to cool and then combine with the mayonnaise & mustard. Combine the brioche, sundried tomatoes, grilled asparagus, arugula, remaining lemon juice and oil. Plate the Soft Shell Crab with some of the salad mixture and dress with the lemon aioli.