Harford County resident Lucie Snodgrass is so passionate about supporting our state's farmers and watermen that she's written a book about them with recipes. Dishing up Maryland ($19.95, Storey Publishing), which has a March 24 release date, features essays on almost three dozen Marylanders who are behind our local food—like Kate and David Dallam of Broom's Bloom Dairy in Bel Air; Jack and Becky Gurley of Calvert's Gift Farm in Sparks; and Jimmy and Michele Hayden, who dredge for oysters in Dorchester County. (A portion of the book's proceeds will go to Maryland's Best, an online resource sponsored by the state Department of Agriculture.) The impetus for writing the cookbook was marrying into an old farming family, Snodgrass says. "This has been such a work of love for me," she says. "I wanted to do it so people would learn something from it." And, indeed, they will. Did you know that the great-great-grandson of Betsy Ross grows peaches and apples in Cecil County?
Peggy Elliott's Piquant Crab Balls
1 pound Maryland jumbo lump crabmeat
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 small onion, peeled and finely minced
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Pick through the crabmeat and remove any shells and cartilage. Set Aside.
Mix the breadcrumbs, onion, egg, mustard, mayonnaise, salt, and Worcestershire in a large bowl. Add the crabmeat and gently toss until blended. Form into 1-inch balls.
Heat the oil in a large skillet until it sizzles, but does not smoke. Fry the crab balls until they are browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.
—From Peggy Elliott, wife of Dorchester County crabber Bill Elliott
Italian Prune Plum Tart with Baked Custard and Hazelnuts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ground hazelnuts
4 cups Italian prune plums
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the dough: Cut the butter into very small pieces in a bowl and mix with the flour, using knives or a pastry cutter to get the mixture to the consistency of peas. Add 1/4 cup ice water, the vinegar, and the salt, and mix by hand until the dough holds together but is not sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch tart pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a circle slightly larger than 9 inches. Line the tart pan with the dough and crimp the edges. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the dough and return the dough to the refrigerator to chill.
Wash and pit the plum lengthwise. Mix the plums with the 2/3 cup sugar in a bowl. Take the tart pan out of the refrigerator. Arrange the plum halves on the dough, pitted side up and overlapping, in concentric circles. Bake for 30 minutes, and then transfer the tart pan to a rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
While the tart is baking, make the custard: Whisk the eggs, cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, and the vanilla in a bowl until well blended. Pour the custard mixture over the plums. Return the tart to the oven and bake for 20 minutes longer, until the custard is set and golden. Serve warm with ice or whipped cream, if desired. Makes 1 (9-inch) tart.
—From the Martin family, Ivy Hill Farm, Washington County
Savage River Lodge Meatloaf
2 1/2 pounds ground beef (see note)
1 pound ground bison
1/2 pound ground veal or turkey
3/4 pound ground bacon (see note)
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup maple syrup, plus extra for topping
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons minced fresh sage
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
5 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
5 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
14-16 slices bacon
Combine the ground beef, bison, veal, and bacon in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, 3/4 cup maple syrup, molasses, honey, ketchup, mustard, sage, parsley, thyme, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Mix everything together very well, being careful not to let the mixture get too warm or overmixed.
Cook a small portion of mixed meatloaf in a hot skillet and taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary with more sweetness, saltiness, or vinegar. Repeat if necessary. Once a desired flavor is reached, sprinkle the mixture with breadcrumbs a little at a time. You are looking for an almost dry consistency.
Lay out the bacon strips on plastic wrap so they are overlapping horizontally. Lightly coat the bacon with the extra maple syrup. Evenly spread the meatloaf mixture down the center of the maple-coated bacon. Wrap the bacon around the meatloaf mixture so that the bacon ends meet. Wrap the meatloaf tightly in plastic wrap. Store the meatloaf in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the meatloaf on a baking sheet and return to room temperature. Transfer the sheet to the oven and bake until a meat thermometer inserted in the meatloaf indicates an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Slice the meatloaf between the pieces of bacon and serve. Serves 16.
Note: Any combination of meats—bison, elk, antelope, veal, pork, and beef—may be used. Ask the butcher to grind the bacon for you.
—From Savage River Lodge, Garrett County