Q: You amaze your husband with your ability to put together a "gourmet meal" on the fly after a long day at work. How do you quickly plan such dinners?
A: I try to keep menus simple and we live minutes away from fresh staples at Rosebank Farms, Newton Farms and Cindy's Seafood. I just run by on my way home and pick up what I need. I usually figure out in the afternoon what I want to fix.
Q: Describe a typical meal you recently made.
A: I recently fixed broiled Southwest chicken breasts with a cilantro pesto, black beans and rice and a romaine salad with roasted red pepper dressing.
Q: How did you learn to cook?
A: My mom was a great cook and our family was large, six children, of which I am the oldest. I started cooking when I was about 10 and have loved it ever since.
Q: You're originally from Baltimore, and have a reputation for making fabulous crab cakes. What's your secret?
A: My secret is just that -; my mom's family recipe which I have tweaked a little to please our taste buds. The real key is to make them moist and only add enough filler just to help hold them together.
Q: What's your favorite Lowcountry dish? Why?
A: I love all the fresh fish we have access to here in the Charleston area and grilled grouper or Spanish mackerel would be my favorite. I am not much of a meat eater and fish and seafood are just the best to me.
Q: Your husband thinks you should enter your "Pluff Mud Chicken" in a cooking contest. What is it and why did you name it that?
A: It is an adaptation of chicken cordon bleu, but I stuff the chicken breasts with crabmeat and cheese, either traditional style or Southwest style. I used to do a lot of recreational crabbing and spent a lot of time catching the crabs in all the mud, hence the name.
Q: Is there a cuisine that you would like to explore but haven't?
A: Probably Thai food is one that I would like to explore, but have not had a lot of extra time to really research it.
Q: We also hear that if not cooking, you'd rather be fly fishing in the Keys for tarpon. How and why did this become a fun thing to do?
A: My husband and I learned to freshwater fly fish in Colorado when we lived out there, but since we love the inshore fishing around here, we went to fly fishing school in the keys and have been hooked ever since. We love being out on the water with the beauty of nature all around us and also participating in a sport that is so conservation conscious.
A favorite recipe:
Pluff Mud Chicken
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces lump crabmeat
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup seasoned flour (pepper, scant salt and 1/2 teaspoon Southwest chili powder)
1/2 bag Garden of Eden Blue Corn Chips, pulsed in food processor until fine
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Lightly salt and pepper both sides of chicken breasts. Mix together crabmeat and cheese and chopped cilantro.
Place one heaping tablespoon of crab mixture on chicken breast and roll up and secure with toothpicks.
Beat egg and add 1 tablespoon of water to make egg wash. Dip each chicken roll in seasoned flour, then egg wash, then in the crushed blue corn chips. Pan fry in 3 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil at medium heat until crust forms. Keep turning until cooked all around on all sides, about 20-25 minutes. Serve with Green Chili Aioli (recipe follows).
Green Chili Aioli
1 cup mayonnaise (Duke's, preferably)
1 can chopped green chiles
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the mayonnaise, green chilies, lime juice, garlic and salt and pepper to taste together in blender and blend just enough to mix thoroughly.
Residence: Johns Island
Occupation: Self-employed; partner with husband in Island Express Services, a packing/mailing/shipping center on Johns Island.
Family: Husband, Lester; son, Karl and wife and baby girl in Mount Pleasant; and daughter Kristen in Atlanta.