Just over the Bay Bridge, about an hour and a half east of Washington, D.C. is the sleepy little town of Oxford, MD. This once booming town was founded in 1683. Oxford thrived before the American Revolution as one of only two ports of entry for the state. After the war the town dwindled until it became an oyster canning mega house, but that would only last so long. Today, Oxford is once again a sleepy town, encouraging tourists to visit, spend a quiet weekend on the Chesapeake Bay, and enjoy the surprisingly fine cuisine at the Robert Morris Inn.
Oxford, MD is so small that it only has a handful of places to stay, most of which are B&Bs. Mark Salter and his partner Ian Fleming took over the Robert Morris Inn, named after the Robert Morris Jr., who was known as the “Financier of the American Revolution” after using his all of his savings to help finance the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and was a close friend of George Washington. He would later become the Superintendent of Finance of the U.S. from 1781-1784.
The inn has been a private residence, town hall, boarding house, temporary home for WWI veterans, and a general store. It began to operate as an inn in the late 1940s. Mark Salter and Ian Fleming joined forces and bought the house in 2010, with Fleming running the inn and Salter revitalizing the kitchen and restaurant, a destination all its own whether you stay at the inn or not.
Meet Mark Salter of the Robert Morris Inn
Mark Salter brings a British flair to this bay side town, while incorporating the signature flavors of Maryland and the seafood found in the Chesapeake bay, most notably the famous Maryland clams. In the Tavern and Taproom you will find a few of his signature dishes, but none more worth the drive from Washington, D.C. than his Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes. This is not your ordinary crab cake. It is brought to a higher level with the ever popular Old Bay seasoning, along with a sprinkling of fresh vegetables, and a Meyer Lemon butter sauce that will have you begging for a second helping even at breakfast.
Salter offers winter cooking demonstrations where he shows you his special techniques that you can copy at home, and of course there is a tasting afterwards. His classes are informative and hilarious, with a running commentary that will keep you engaged throughout the class.
Sadly, not everyone can get to Oxford, MD. Thankfully Salter is an open book when it comes to his creations and shared his Jumbo Lump Crab Cake recipe during a recent cooking demonstration at the Robert Morris Inn and encouraged all participates to try it at home.
Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Batons of Zucchini and Squash, Tomato Fondue and Meyer Lemon Butter Sauce: Serves 4
- 1lb of Jumbo Lump Crab
- 1/3 cup of mayonnaise (not the light stuff)
- 1.5 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning
- 2.5 teaspoons of chopped tarragon
- 1 tablespoon of chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Zest from half of a lemon
- 1 egg
- 1/8 cup + 2 tablespoons of panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs to dip finished crab cakes
Crab Cake Instructions
- Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay seasoning, tarragon, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest and one egg.
- Fold in the crab meat and the bread crumbs, then rest for one hour before shaping into five 1/2 ounce cakes
- Dip shaped crab cake in panko bread crumbs on both sides then saute in olive oil and finish in a preheated oven 350F for 7-10 minutes.
Batons of Zucchini and Squash
- 2 medium size zucchini
- 2 yellow squash
- 2 shallots peeled and chopped
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of chopped French tarragon
- Cut the zucchini and squash into 3-inch long sticks
- Cut and chop the shallot and garlic into fine dice
- Saute the zucchini and squash in olive oil. Add the chopped shallot, garlic and French tarragon
Meyer Lemon Butter Sauce
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 sliced and peeled shallot
- 1 Meyer lemon zest and slice
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter
- Zest of one Meyer lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Boil all ingredients with the exception of the cream and butter until two tablespoons remain.
- Add the heavy cream. Cook until cream begins to thicken, approximately 2 minutes.
- Whisk in the butter, strain and add the grated zest.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 peeled and diced onion
- 1 clove chopped garlic
- Fresh thyme sprig
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
- 1 piece muslin plus string
- 4 vine ripe tomatoes
- Saute the diced onion and chopped garlic in olive oil
- Add the seeded, chopped tomatoes followed by the bouquet garni
- Season with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper
- Cook until soft, remove the bouquet garni and spoon on top of the crab cake
- garnish crab cake with picked chervil
Many thanks to the Robert Morris Inn and Chef Mark Salter for inviting me to the cooking demonstration and providing this recipe to be shared with our readers. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know. And yes, this crab cake tastes even better than it looks.