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Refreshing Spring Dishes

After this past winter, we all appreciate the warm sun and the myriad of spring produce…radishes, ramps, scallions, watercress, asparagus, and rhubarb, just to mention a few.

The crisp crunchy sweet spring radishes at the Farmer’s Market were so beautiful that I was motivated to immediately make a salad of radishes and their leaves that were also sweet (they tasted almost like arugula) with avocado, and cubed artisanal sheep’s’ milk cheese. I added a slice of whole grain healthy toast to complete my lunch.

Whenever Soft Shell Crabs are on the menu, I’m sure to order them. Imagine my delight when our waiter at B.K.B. (a.k.a. Bay Kitchen Bar Restaurant – NYC location) told us they were the special of the evening. And indeed they were special…succulent and juicy underneath a light crunchy cornmeal batter. They were served on a bed of citrus dressed slaw, with dollop of pink aioli and basil infused oil. I was so impressed and inspired that I recreated this recipe with out the batter for less calories, to make at home. By the way, B.K.B. Hampton location is 39 Gann Road in the Springs of East Hampton. Chef Eric Miller assured me he would be offering soft shell crabs throughout the summer from Memorial Day until Labor Day in the Hamptons.

Bon appetit!


Serves four

  • 2 bunches of assorted fresh radishes with their leaves, washed
  • 1 large firm ripe avocado, lemon juice for drizzling
  • About 4 thin slices red onion
  • 5 ounces sheep’s’ milk Gruyere-style cheese, cubed
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Fig infused white balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Flaked sea salt to taste

To prepare:

Remove the radish leaves, discarding any yellow or blemished ones, wash in cold water and spin dry, and set aside or refrigerate. Wash and trim off stems and tails of radishes, cut into thin slices.

Cut avocado in half, remove pit, cut into uniform slices, and drizzle with a bit of lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

To assemble: Mound a handful of radish leaves in the center of salad plates, scatter sliced radishes and red onion around the greens. Fan avocado slices out and place on one side of the plate, and scatter cubed cheese on top. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar over the entire salad, season to taste, and serve at once.


Inspired by Chef Eric Miller of BKB Restaurant, East Hampton/NYC

Serves four

  • 4 large soft shell crabs, cleaned
  • 1 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 cup Wondra flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • About 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup Cognac for flaming
  • Parsley sprigs for garnish

Aioli Sauce:

  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

To prepare:

Prepare the garlic aioli up to three days ahead. Mince the garlic with salt until it forms a paste and transfer to a bowl. Whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, together and slowly add oil beating until smooth. Add paprika and pepper, taste and adjust the seasonings. Refrigerate until serving time.
Pour milk into a shallow dish (pie plate) large enough to hold the crabs in one layer. And crabs and let them soak for one hour in the refrigerator. Drain off and discard the milk. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, salt, paprika, and pepper together until blended. Roll each crab in the seasoned cornmeal shake off the excess.

In a skillet over moderate high heat, add oil and butter, when the foam subsides, working in batches, sauté the crabs until golden on both sides, about eight to nine minutes in total. Immediately transfer them to a paper towel lined plate and keep warm.
Pour off excess butter/oil, set pan back over the heat, add cognac, ignite to burn off alcohol and cook until reduced to a glaze.
With a spoon swirl the glaze in the center of four plates, set the crab on top, partially covering the glaze, add a dollop of garlic aioli, garnish with a sprig of parsley, and serve at once.