We’ve mastered the variations of fajitas in several different ways – but the most important…
Grandma Joy’s Baked Crab Cakes
In honor of Mother’s Day, and every day in which I honor my mother, I share with you a family recipe by my Grandma Joy and a letter to my mom. Here’s to the women who have given me all the strength to be the person I am today.
If there’s a recipe that summarizes every visit to my Grandma Joy’s (and Pap-Pap’s) house, it’s these crab cakes. I can’t wait to share with you a recipe that holds so much meaning to my family in the time we spent together. Before I do, it’s Mother’s Day in 2021, and I wanted to make sure my mom knows how important she is to me…
I didn’t know how else to make this Mother’s Day special since this past year has been a complete challenge and change for both of us. You didn’t want gifts and we are still over a thousand miles apart but I figured a letter and a tribute to grandma’s crab cakes would do. This is less of a “Happy Mother’s Day, thinking of you!” note and more of a “Thank you for literally everything” letter.
I broke out in tears thinking about you this past weekend as it hit me, “what would my life be if I didn’t have you?”. You’ve carried me through all of my darkest days, encouraging me to keep moving forward. You’ve picked up the phone at 4:00am many times just to let me vent and cry and burden you with all my worries and anxieties. You somehow put all the pieces back together for me time and time again.
You’ve been my cheerleader while I found my own internal confidence. You know the perfect words of encouragement balanced with tough love, time and time again. You remind me more often than not how proud you are even when I can’t come to find it within myself.
Side of Veggies would not be in existence if it wasn’t for you. Not only did you teach me how to cook (as you learned from your mother), you’ve encouraged me to be creative by positive reinforcements and allowed me to bounce recipe ideas off of you from time to time. I cherish the moments we’ve spent in the kitchen together (not when we made those horrendous chocolate peanut butter buckeyes) but most of the other memories LOL!
You’re my best friend. I don’t know anyone else in this world I call at least two to three times a day just to hear their voice and feel and overwhelming sense of comfort and relief. A best friend who I argue with about silly things. A friend who I laugh with over all our little jokes and tiny secrets that only you and I will ever know about.
So to answer my question from before, “What would my life be if I didn’t have you?” Absolutely nothing! You are my ride or die! I can’t not have you in my life – my beautiful, smart, silly, and strong mother. And here’s to all our mothers who have influenced us and created such a strong line of women in this crazy, unique family. Cheers to you mom, and your mom, Grandma Cerutti and all the women who make Mother’s Day a true celebration.
So now for the crab cakes! Not just any kind of crab cakes, Grandma Joy’s famous (according to me) New England style crab cakes! Oh man, I’ve never been so anxious, nervous and paranoid making a recipe before! I don’t know if it was simply because I wanted to make sure this post was perfect or because I wanted to make grandma proud. Also, this recipe is not cheap. I had to bounce around town finding good quality crab meat (in central Florida) so it had to be a one and done shot. It’s not like I could just remake it tomorrow with all the same ingredients. I’d have to take out a second mortgage on my house to recreate this recipe over and over again. Goodness! No wonder we only had it when we visited!
Let me just say that when I was preparing these I made sure I called Grandma Joy (after her Friday hair appointment) and got a very clear rundown on EXACTLY how to make her crab cakes. I also got a wonderful update on her blooming azaleas! She’s so full of personality. When she started speaking I asked if this was a recipe that she adopted from the back of a can? Very offended, she replied, “No! Mine uses two eggs…listen, this is how you do it!”
My whole family (other than my California aunt, who was born in NJ) is spread out all over the Northeast. New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania (closer to Baltimore), New Hampshire, and some lived and moved out of New Jersey and Connecticut. My point is, we know our cold water seafood and we love it! I remember a few times hitting up seafood markets with the family finding whole fresh crabs, crab meat and even MASSIVE lobsta’hs!
Every time my family heads to my grandma’s house, or even to the eastern shore, we’re guaranteed a great seafood dinner somewhere or somehow. I even remember, vividly, a debate in the car between my mom, dad and aunt, somewhere between Providence, Boston, or even back down to Cape Cod (that part I can’t remember) on whether or not “market” is pronounced with or without an “R”!
This recipe has a special place in my heart for so many reasons and paired with so many memories. I even remember my grandma and my parents convincing me to spend an afternoon cracking apart whole crabs for pleasure and dinner. I did not find that enjoyable and a bit too laborious on what I considered a vacation. When I tasted my attempt at grandma’s crab cakes I was taken back. I miss her, my mom and all my family so much. This recipe, however, keeps them all close to me in my heart!
A couple tidbits from my grandma while we talked on the phone and I made this recipe:
- It’s a “heaping” tablespoon of mayo, so for those who need to measure, that translates to 1-2 tablespoons.
- It’s not nonstick cooking spray, it’s PAM!
- Old Bay seasoning goes into the dish and she doesn’t really measure it but it’s what seasons the cakes. Nothing else! Well, except parsley.
- She uses two eggs! Not one!
- Grandma always picks apart her bread by hand, that’s also exactly how I remember her doing this!
- If you’re wondering if you should or if she used to add a sprinkle of paprika on top for color, the answer was a firm “No!” … I can’t believe I made that suggestion.
It doesn’t matter if you’re eating a seafood dinner on the water, or pulling up cages of whatever we could find with grandma’s friends in Ocean City, MD. This recipe represents my East Coast family and our signature get together dish. I will forever carry on this recipe and the memories I have with my mother and grandma.
- 1 pound crab meat (claw and/or lump)
- 2 slices bread crumbled
- 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped (or <1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard optional
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl until moist and clings together.
- Line about 6-8 muffin tins with cupcake papers and then spray them down with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.