Recipes for a leap year birthday

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Birthday to my father-in-law, Jerry McClanahan, on this leap day. He is having his 18th birthday today; you do the math. This past year has been a fun year for our family, as he was 17 and both of his grandsons, Ross and Troy-Lee, were also 17 at one time. Now this year they will all turn 18, and then that will never happen again, as the grandsons will pass up the grandfather in birthdays. It has been fun for "pops" this year to tell his friends about being the same number age as his grandsons.

I don't have many of his favorite recipes, so I will just share a few recipes with you that I know he wouldn't mind eating at our table.

Four Seasons Crab Cakes

2 pounds jumbo lump crabmeat

1/2 pound fresh codfish fillet

1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

2 tablespoons basil, julienne

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Olive oil for sautéing

Pick through crabmeat, removing all shells but being careful not to break up the large lumps too much. In a food processor, grind codfish until pureed. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and puree until incorporated. Then add more cream if needed. The mixture should be smooth and shiny, yet firm enough to hold its shape.

Place this mousse in a metal bowl and add the other ingredients, except for the olive oil. Take a small portion of the crabcake mixture and sauté in hot olive oil until golden brown. Taste to adjust seasoning. Form the rest of the crabcakes and sauté in hot olive oil until golden on both sides. Finish by baking in a 450 degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes.

Serves six to eight.

Pork Tenderloin Teriyaki

2 (9-ounce) pork tenderloins

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon dried minced garlic, or 1 clove fresh, minced

Bacon strips


Place pork tenderloins in zip-top bag. Combine remaining ingredients, except bacon, and pour over pork. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight. Remove tenderloins from marinade and wrap in bacon strips, securing with toothpicks at each new piece. Grill over medium coals or gas fire for 18 to 25 minutes, brushing with marinade is desired. Remove to platter and cover with foil for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Slice diagonally into medallions and serve. Yields about 6 servings.

The Pioneer Woman's Perfect Beef Tenderloin

1 whole (4- to 5-pound) beef tenderloin

4 tablespoons salted butter, or more to taste

1/3 cup whole peppercorns, more or less to taste

Lawry's Seasoned Salt (or your favorite salt blend)

Lemon pepper seasoning

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Rinse meat well. Trim away some of the fat to remove the silvery cartilage underneath. With a sharp knife, begin taking the fat off the top, revealing the silver cartilage underneath. You definitely don't want to take every last bit of fat off -- not at all. As with any cut of meat, a little bit of fat adds to the flavor. (Hint: You can also ask the butcher to do this trimming for you if the process seems intimidating.)

Sprinkle meat generously with Lawry's. You can much more liberally season a tenderloin, because you're having to pack more of a punch in order for the seasoning to make an impact. Start with Lawry's Seasoned Salt. Rub it in with your fingers. Sprinkle both sides generously with lemon pepper seasoning. (There are no measurements because it depends on your taste, but be sure to season liberally.)

Place the peppercorns in a zip-top bag, and with a mallet, hammer or large, heavy can, begin smashing the peppercorns to break them up a bit. Set aside.

Heat some olive oil in a heavy skillet. When the oil is to the smoking point, place the tenderloin in the very hot pan to sear it. Throw a couple of tablespoons of butter into the skillet to give it a nice little butter injection before going in the oven. A minute or two later, when one side is starting to turn nice and brown, flip and repeat.

Place the tenderloin on an oven pan with a rack. Sprinkle the pummeled peppercorns all over the meat. Press the pepper onto the surface of the meat. Put several tablespoons of butter all over the meat. Stick the long needle of the thermometer lengthwise into the meat. Place it in a 475-degree oven until the temperature reaches 140 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stay near the oven and keep checking the meat thermometer to make sure it doesn't overcook. Bake longer for more done, or to desired doneness.

Let meat stand 10 minutes or so before slicing, so the meat will have a chance to relax a bit. To serve, you can spoon the olive oil/butter juices from the skillet onto the top of the meat for a little extra flavor.

Country Style Blackberry Cobbler

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups white sugar, divided

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold butter

1/4 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and drained

In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/4 cup boiling water just until mixture is evenly moist. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water. Mix in remaining 1 cup sugar, lemon juice and blackberries. Transfer to a cast iron skillet, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Drop dough into the skillet by spoonfuls. Place skillet on the foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until dough is golden brown.

I hope these recipes become some of your favorites and you serve them all year long, and not just on very special birthdays.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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