Corks & Cake Contributor: Kathryn Michel
Our guest contributor today is Kathryn Michel, a native Marylander who grew up in Potomac. Kathryn has served as Social Secretary to several prominent Washington hostesses and is a consummate event planner. She’s planned parties in just about every venue around town from the White House, to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the Corcoran, and the Capitol building. In addition to her passion for parties she has a passion for animal rescue work, in particular with horses. She is also riotously funny (I can attest!) and is a great person to have on board during a complex event because she keeps her cool.
The lady knows her way around a crab cake (the most popular party appetizer in these parts). She, Allison, and I agree that our favorite crab cake is the classic Maryland crab cake and by that we mean NO FUNNY STUFF. No tarragon, no potato chips, no green peppers, no bacon, no artichoke hearts, just stop it already you crazy chefs!
My go-to crab cake recipe comes from the venerable Maryland’s Way Cook Book, published by the Hammond-Harwood House Association in 1966. The Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis was built in 1774 by the colonial architect, William Buckland, and is on the National Historic Landmark registry.
There are five recipes for crab cakes in this vintage book (out of 21 for crab in general.) The one I call for is the one named “Yardley’s Crab Cakes.” I don’t know who Yardley was (no surname) but the credit lists Baltimore Sun under his name. A very cursory Google search leads us to believe this recipe could have originated with either a very popular cartoonist with the Baltimore Sun newspaper named Yardley, or a prominent Baltimore gastroenterologist named John Howard “Jack” Yardley. Culinary sleuths, please report out in the comments if you have any intel.
Use the best lump crab meat that you can afford and treat it gently. Don’t try to stretch it with too much filler, just make the cakes baby-size and let everyone enjoy one perfect bite of the dish that speaks to the heart of Maryland cuisine: fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay, enhanced but not covered up.
I change it up sometimes by adding lots more parsley and less bread.