In the Kitchen: Soft Shells &Sweet Potatoes

Cook, Garden

Soft Shells

With temperatures rising lately, we like to spend as much time as possible outside. Checking on the seedlings in the greenhouse in the morning, walking Carly around our tiny neighborhood &  in tonight’s case dining al fresco. We turn some bluegrass on, &  in some cases Chris gets his guitar out. We enjoy a nice cold beer or crisp glass of wine while watching Carly get into who knows what.  Likely my rose bushes or herb garden.  She barks& howls, A LOT. We live in the city so there is a lot of noise to fire her up. For such a young small animal, she sure has some lungs! Her deep long hound dog howl hasn’t gotten old yet. We find it hilarious. Especially when her voice cracks at the end from losing her breath.



On the menu tonight was soft shell crabs & mashed sweet potatoes. Even though it is not quite soft shell crab season yet, I remembered there were some in the freezer. Waking up to 70 degree weather I thought tonight would be a perfect time to cook them & enjoy them outside.  Soft Shell crabs are such a delight.  You get to eat almost the entire crab! Around May, Blue crabs shed their shell & begin to form a new one. In comes the soft shell crab. It is just a blue crab that is going through the molting process. I love them slightly fried but not too much since their soft shell forms its own crispness once cooked. Drizzled with a squeeze of lemon, they are such a simple joy.
soft shell crabs and sweet potatoes
Soft shell crabs:


4 soft shell crabs, cleaned a& prepped for eating

1 cup milk & tablespoon lemon or butter milk

1 cup corn meal

A few dashes each (or to taste) of:

cayenne, cumin,  paprika, onion & garlic powder , black pepper, salt,

Oil or fat for frying


Lay soft shell crabs in a baking dish &  cover with milk or buttermilk. Let sit in fridge for 20-30 minutes. Heat frying oil in large skillet. Combine corn meal & spices & put on a large plate (you will have some leftover, freeze for another batch). Coat soft shell crabs in corn meal & spice mixture top and bottom and fry about 3 minutes per side. My soft shells were pretty small so yours may need to be a minute longer if they are larger. Lay on a plate lined with a paper towel to cool & drain excess grease. Drizzle with lemon juice and enjoy

Mashed sweet potatoes:


2 large sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

2 green onions sliced

1 handful fresh parsley chopped

1 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons Creole or Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon black pepper

few pinches sea salt


Boil sweet potatoes until soft and cooked  leaving peeling on (about 30 minutes).Combine remaining ingredients in medium size deep baking dish. Once sweet potatoes are ready remove with slotted spoon, add to baking dish and fold all ingredients together. Don’t over mix so that you still have some nice chunks of sweet potato. Taste and see if you’d like to add more  mustard, pepper, salt etc. Garnish with extra green onion, parsley and Parmesan.

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