Contest winner got downright crabby Victory: Severn woman tops Crisfield cooking competition with eight appealing appetizers.

September 16, 1998|By Tracy Sahler | Tracy Sahler,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CRISFIELD - Jeanette Lalonde of Severn transformed a simple crab meat mixture into eight different appetizers to win the annual Crab Cooking Contest here earlier this month.

She tucked the crab into cherry tomatoes, sweetened it with pineapple and mango, sealed it inside won-ton wrappers and gave it a touch of Dijon for dip.

It seemed like a daunting undertaking for a contest with a one-hour time limit, but the payroll manager from Washington Hospital Center pulled off her Maryland Blue Crab Meat Appetizers with ease. Lalonde earned $100 and prizes as the Crab Cooking Contest grand champion, her second time as the overall winner.

Lalonde shared kitchen space during the competition with her husband, John Scofield, who has won Crab Cooking Contest prizes in the past but finished out of the money this year. At their homes in Severn and Hedgesville, W.Va., they work on recipes together and cook as a hobby. Lalonde said she'll sit out next year's contest, hoping her husband will finish first.

"My husband and I just love to cook, and we do it together. We have several friends that we try our dishes on, and most of the time they really like it," she said.

Lalonde's dish finished first in the appetizer category, followed by Dedra Martin of Easton with Eastern Shore Crab Delight, and Robin Jupitz of Baltimore with Egg Rolls With Crab Meat.

Helen Tomko of Baltimore won the main-dish category with Ring of Crab. Ocean City's Penelope Morrow made Grilled Crab Pizza With Artichoke and Bacon for second place, and Dee Van Nest of Annapolis finished third with Crab Truffle With Saffron Sauce.

Eastern Shore entrants swept the crab-cake category: Kim Todd of Crisfield, Kim's Crab Cakes, first; Asbury Parks of Salisbury, Asbury's Crab Cakes, second; and Eddie Tomko of Crisfield, Believe It or Not Zucchini Crab Cakes, third.

The soup award went to Beth Dryden of Newark, Del., for Dryden's Crab Soup, with Helen's Cream of Crab Soup by Crisfield's Helen Tomko coming in second. Lalonde and Scofield weren't the only relatives facing off in the contest. This Helen Tomko is the mother of the main-dish winner and the third-place crab cake finisher. Dryden was one of five Dryden family members from Delaware who competed.

Thirty-five years of Crab Cooking Contest recipes are available in "Crabbiest Recipes," printed by the contest organizers with help from the Maryland Department of Agriculture Seafood Marketing Program. Send a check or money order for $12 ($9 for the book, $3 shipping) to co-chairwoman Charlotte Daugherty, 5412 Frances Road, Crisfield, Md. 21817. The 1998 recipes will not be added to the book until next year's contest, which will take place the Friday of Labor Day Weekend in conjunction with the National Hard Crab Derby & Fair in Crisfield.

Each variation below uses the whole 1-pound mixture of crab meat base for a single appetizer, but you can make smaller numbers of each appetizer for greater variety. For the contest, Lalonde used two pounds of crab meat and divided the mixture among all eight appetizers.

Jeanette Lalonde's Maryland Blue Crab Meat Appetizers

Crab Meat Appetizer Base

In a large bowl, mix:

1 pound Maryland blue crab meat

1/2 cup finely chopped red and green sweet peppers

1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced parsley

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon seafood seasoning

Dijon Dip:

In a bowl, blend 8-ounce package cream cheese, 3/4 cup sour cream and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard with an electric mixer until smooth. Add 1 recipe Crab Meat Appetizer Base. Chill. Serve with vegetable dippers.

Hawaiian Appetizer:

In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup crushed pineapple, 1/4 cup chopped mango and 1 recipe Crab Meat Base. Place about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into small clam shells. Fill 24-28 shells, depending on size. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake about 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Serve warm.

Crab Meat Balls:

In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup celery, chopped fine, 2 teaspoons seafood seasoning, 1 recipe Crab Meat Base and 1/2 cup matzo meal. Form into about 35 balls. Roll into 1/2 cup matzo meal. Fry in oil heated to 375 degrees, until brown. Serve with cocktail sauce.

Crab Stuffed Tomatoes:

Cut tops off 32 cherry tomatoes, remove seeds. Place upside-down to drain. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of chopped celery, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 recipe Crab Meat Base. Stuff tomatoes with mixture. (This mixture can also be used to stuff small cream puffs or other vegetable containers.)

Tortilla Roll-ups:

In a bowl, combine 8-ounce package of cream cheese, 8-ounce container sour cream, 4-ounce container pimentos, finely chopped, 4-ounce can chopped green chilies, 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese and 1 recipe Crab Meat Base. Spread the mixture on 8 flour tortillas. Roll up each tortilla and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours. Slice each tortilla into 6 to 8 slices. Makes approximately 50.

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms:

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