Jumbo lump crab cakes.
Last year, I wrote a post about my favorite restaurant in Cape May, The Pier House. (Click here to see the full article.) I’ve been there a few more times since then and just had to update my post with some recent photos! It’s still fabulous and still my favorite place in Cape May and here’s why: the food is fresh, amazing and plentiful, and the atmosphere is casual and relaxed but still upscale, offering an area where you can dine outside directly across from the ocean. 
Dinner outside at the Pier House.
I’ve also discovered that The Pier House has some really tasty crab cakes – where have these been all my life? Normally, I am hesitant to order crab cakes when I am dining out because they’re always so hit or miss. The crab cakes at the Pier House were all crab meat, not filler, and the panko breading differentiated them from others at the Jersey shore. I also loved the presentation: two crab cakes topped with Yukon gold mashed potatoes, jumbo grilled shrimp and a sun dried tomato tortilla crisp with wasabi crema and a lemon buerre blanc sauce. 
Crab cakes on another occasion – still amazing.
The lamb lollichops appetizer was plentiful enough to be enjoyed as a meal. The lamb was so tender and the glaze perfection – eating these made me feel like it was Easter Sunday (we have lamb chops) and Christ had risen (again).
Lamb Lollichops appetizer: port wine, lavendar glaze and feta cheese.
 While we were enjoying the lamb appetizers, I heard two couples at a table behind me talking about how they travel to the Pier House just to get “Mr. E’s Veal Porterhouse” entree – a veal chop with shrimp scampi, leeks, roasted peppers, Greek rice pilaf and steamed vegetables. They weren’t wrong – it was amazing. 
Last but certainly not least, I wrote about how the watermelon salad was my favorite at the shore. It still is and holds the top spot in my heart for my favorite summer salad. I was almost tempted to ask them where they get their feta cheese, it’s the creamiest smoothest feta around. I’ve only tasted feta cheese like this at one other place: Taverna Kyclades in Astoria, Queens. (That blog will be coming soon!) Taverna and the Pier House are the closest things to Greece I’ve had, and they really make me want to take a trip there. Until then, my next mission is to try the Pier House for breakfast or lunch – if I can ever get myself off of the beach.

My favorite salad ever.

A snow storm is supposedly coming our way this weekend, which means it’s the perfect time to break out your slow cooker and make something hearty and comforting! I never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss Nor’Easters.  Mother Nature needs to decide if it’s going to be beautiful and hot, or cold and snowy – instead of just RAINY AND COLD. One of the best parts, for me, of being snowed in is the opportunity to make a big pot of something comforting that can be enjoyed in a bowl, under a big warm blanket while watching a movie (with a glass of wine of course). These lamb shanks are a hearty dish that most people would shy away from, but once you’ve tried them, you’ll be sold.

So what are lamb shanks? They’re a portion of the leg of a lamb (baby sheep – GASP), which is divided into two parts: the sirloin half and the shank half. The shank is the lower shin, and is leaner and less tender than the sirloin portion. The shank can be just as tasty as the sirloin if you take the time to cook the meat long and slow, which is where a slow cooker comes in hand.

I know that slow cookers have a huge following but I admittedly have only used mine ONCE, to make these lamb shanks. I’m too paranoid to leave the house with something plugged in, cooking all day – and when I am hope I feel like there’s no point in using a slow cooker when I can just use my dutch oven to speed up the process. (Patience is not one of my virtues.) Still, I enjoyed the final result and look forward to using it again.

Typically, I’ve enjoyed lamb shanks at Greek restaurants and the Greek festival, but I tried to put my own Italian spin on this recipe, which was inspired by the book The Italian Slow Cooker.  (My grandpa looked at this cookbook and pre-approved it before I used it – and it’s AMAZING!)  I hope you enjoy it! I added in my own garlic and peppers and onions because I love these ingredients.

Fairytale Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks with White Beans
(Serves 2-4)

2 large lamb shanks
1/4 cup of pan searing flour
3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large onion, halved and sliced
2 cups of beef broth
2 cups of dry red wine
4 tablespoons of tomato paste
1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 cans of white beans
1 tablespoon of butter
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
3/4 cup of chopped black olives
1 bunch of chopped curly Italian parsley

These shanks came straight from NY.

Place the garlic and onions in the bottom of your slow cooker pot. Sprinkle the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Lightly dust the shanks with pan searing flour.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the lamb shanks to the oil, browning in the skillet on all sides. Remove from the skillet and place on top of the onions.

In a small saucepan or bowl, mix together the broth, wine and tomato paste. Pour the mixture over the shanks in the slow cooker pot. Add the sprigs of fresh rosemary. Cook the shanks and sauce on HIGH for 5-6 hours or until the meat falls off the bone.

Remove the shanks and place on a platter. Cover with foil to keep warm. Add the white beans to sauce and onions in the slow cooker and heat on high for 45 minutes until they’re heated throw and tender. Meanwhile, melt the butter and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the sliced peppers and saute for two minutes. Add a few tablespoons of the liquid from the slow cooker and cook the peppers on medium heat for about ten more minutes, until tender. Add the olives in and cook for two more minutes.

To serve: Stir half of your chopped parsley into the white bean and onion sauce in the slow cooker pot. Pour the mixture from the slow cooker pot onto a large platter. Add the lamb shanks. Top with the olive and sweet pepper mixture. Add the remaining parsley.


As summer becomes a distant memory and the abundance of melons and summer squash come to an end, there is one salad and restaurant I am going to be dreaming about all winter. The watermelon and feta salad from the Pier House in Cape May, NJ. This restaurant claimed a spot in my heart as my favorite place at the Jersey Shore.

Pier House Watermelon and Feta Salad.
The watermelon and feta salad was by far the essence of summer. It combines all of the freshest flavors of season summer ingredients into one dish. This huge tower was like a dream of refreshing, watery goodness: watermelon, creamy feta, cherry tomatoes, grapes, cucumbers, arugula, walnuts and mint in a honey dressing. And if this tower is too much for you to handle and you want to share it, the restaurant will happily serve you a smaller portion.

Everything else at the Pier House was equally as good and it was an absolute pleasure to dine there. The service was, by far, the best I’ve experienced at the shore. The staff is patient, kind and attentive. The restaurant is even family friendly, with kids receiving perks such as fresh popped popcorn. 
The inside of the restaurant is clean and modern, but warm. The outdoor patio offers the perfect beachy atmosphere, with the ocean just a street away. They even have portable heaters and bug spray upon request, if needed!
Most importantly, the food at the Pier House was just out of this world and blew me away. The Pier House offers a lengthy menu of Mediterranean inspired dishes and reasonably priced in comparison to some other upscale restaurants in Cape May. Below are some photos from our visits to the Pier House
Pier House Bread Basket with house made Kalamata Olive Hummus.
Pier House Chicken Avgolemono Soup

Pier House Lumb Crab & Avocado Mangotini

Pier House grilled Octopus with lemon, oregano and olive oil.

Pier House Macho Tuna:
spicy seared tuna over a crisp wonton with wasabi crema, seasame vinaigrette, micro greens and tomato relish.
Mahi Mahi Plaki (greek soul food)
Lemon, xvoo oregano potatoes, 3 onion garlic tomato simmer, greek olives, baby arugula and a lemon.

Swordfish “Skaras”
Swordfish steak, lump crab meat, caper tomato avgolemono, asparagus and yukon gold mashed potatoes.

Sea Bass
Sea Bass steak with “diner” style stewed tomatoes, sauteed spinach, yukon gold crab mashed potatoes, sauce buerre blanc and a shrimp skewer crunch.

Slow Braised Lamb Shank “Kleftiko”
Four hour braise, mavrodaphne wine glaze, lemon xvoo oregano potatoes.

Chocolate Mousse Cake.
Key Lime Pie.
The Pier House is located on 1327 Beach Avenue in Cape May, NJ, at the La Mar Hotel. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served and the restaurant is open year round. 

If you’re looking for a way to use up some of those cucumbers from your summer garden, try making this easy and healthful tzatziki sauce.  Tzatziki is a Greek sauce that is made from strained yogurt (usually from goat’s or sheep’s milk), grated or chopped cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and fresh dill or mint.  If you’ve ever enjoyed a gyro or souvlaki, then you’ve most likely had tzatziki sauce.  It a very versatile sauce and can even be served as a dip or spread.   This cool sauce is a perfect compliment to a warm summer night and simple to whip up in minutes.  I promise, once you’ve made this from scratch you will never go back to a store bought tzatziki sauce again!
TIP: The thicker the yogurt, the thicker the sauce – so if you want to make this as a dip, try using Fage Total or 2% Fage Greek Yogurt.  In my recipe, I used 0% Fage Greek Yogurt, which made it a little runny but I added some low fat sour cream to thicken it up and save some calories. 
Fairytale Tzatziki Sauce

2 6-oz containers of Fage 0% greek yogurt
½ cup of reduced fat sour cream
1 large cucumber
1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt + pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt and sour cream. Grate the cucumber (leaving skin on) into the mixture. Mix in the dill, vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Enjoy with whole wheat pita chips, in a flatbread pita with grilled chicken, or as a dip for veggies.