Enjoy a stay at the York River Inn overlooking the York River in historic Yorktown, Virginia
York River Inn Bed & Breakfast

Favorite Recipes from the Innkeeper


2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning breakfast
1/4 c sour cream (or mayonnaise)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 t chopped parsley
1 tsp baking powder
2 t chopped pimiento
1/4 c melted butter (one-half stick)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 t sugar
½ c toasted bread crumbs or finely crushed saltine crackers
2 eggs
1 pound of backfin crab picked clean of shell
toasted bread crumbs for topping

Mix everything in the order of the ingredients (11 items). Save crab meat until last and crumbs for topping. Then gently fold in crab meat, being careful not to break it up–if you stir too hard, you’ll break up the backfin pieces.

Spray 6-ounce custard cups with Pam. Fill each one 3/4 full. Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs. This recipe will make about 8 or 10. Bake 30 minutes at 350 in the middle of the oven.

You can use this same recipe for crab cakes, although, even when it’s cold, the uncooked mixture is soft and runny. I usually take some in my hand, shape it into a ball, place it in a plate with buttered bread crumbs, cover the ball with the crumbs, and then put it in a glass casserole dish sprayed with Pam. I mash the ball down to a cake size–maybe 3/4 inches thick? And as wide as I want? When I fill up the casserole dish, I put them in the fridge overnight. I usually use a 9 by 13 inch dish for this.

In the morning, I’ll put them in the oven preheated to 350 on the lowest rack. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and turn over–I mean–turn over the crab cakes, don’t turn over yourself or you’ll never get these things right. And you’ll never finish breakfast either–trust me–I’ve tried it! It never works to turn over before breakfast.

Sorry–I wander.....

Bake for another 10 minutes, and they’ll be perfect–they’ll look like you sauteed them, without the mess, the grease, the smell, or the cleaning.

Also, this freezes very well. Freeze them in the glass dishes and cover each one with plastic wrap and put them in an air-tight plastic bag. Thaw and cook as above. Or you can make the crab cakes, put them on a tray covered in parchment paper, and freeze solid. As soon as they’re frozen, remove, and put in an air-tight plastic bag–that way you can pull out however many you want at a time. Let them thaw out and follow the cooking directions above. Don’t try to cook them frozen.

Let me tell you about the crab meat—I get it fresh during the season (this is Chesapeake Bay blue crab)–and I usually have my own crab pots and I get the crab meat myself directly from the river–or I get it from a local waterman. In a pinch,

For me? And how I grew up? We always used the claw and other (special) meat for our crab cakes–that’s the sweetest meat by far. We’d save the backfin for other things, when we wanted the meat to show up–but it was bland in taste compared to the "special" meat.

Now? If people don’t see those big huge pieces of white backfin meat in their crab cakes or crab dishes, they think they’re being cheated!

So—like everyone else now–I make my crabcakes out of backfin meat—but that means I get to save the yummy claw and other sweet meat for myself!


Poached Pears with Cranberries

3 pears, halved & cored
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter,melted
1 cup cranberries, cut in half
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Put pears fairly close together in the dish, cut side down. Combine marmalade, sugar, salt, butter, cranberries, orange juice concentrate and water; pour over pears.

Bake pears, uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until pears are tender enough to cut with a fork, but not mushy. Put pears round-side down in individual serving bowls. Put 1-2 tablespoons of sour cream into the hole of each pear. Pour a little sauce mixture over each pear and serve.


Bill’s Brown Sugar Glazed Bacon

One of the secrets to this bacon is to bake it–which makes sense. If you were supposed to fry it, don’t you think they would have named it "fryon"?

1 pound of thick-cut bacon
Granulated brown sugar (not regular brown sugar)

Spray large glass casserole dishes or baking pans with Pam. Arrange bacon in one layer in dishes–very close togehter is ok. Bake at 350 degrees until the bacon is about half done–you have to judge that. Turn the bacon over and sprinkle bacon evenly with granulated brown sugar–don’t be stingy. Cook for a couple of minutes or until the sugar has begun to cook. Turn the bacon over and cook until the bacon is done to desired crispness.

Remove the bacon to sheets of brown paper or kraft paper to drain. Do NOT drain on paper towels unless you want bacon with fuzzy white edges. Trust me, bacon with fuzzy white edges is not good.

Don’t put the sugar on too early in the process since it will burn much quicker than the bacon will.

If you like spicy bacon, you can sprinkle ground black pepper on the bacon when you do the brown sugar–it’s not for everybody, but you might like it.


York River Inn Baked Tomatoes

4 plum tomatoes
2 T olive oil tomatoes
1 - 1 ½ T commercial Italian seasoning
½ t salt
3 T granulated brown sugar

Cut each tomato in half beginning at the stem end. Cut out the stem if you like, but it’s not necessary.Place cut side up in an 8 X 8 glass casserole dish sprayed with Pam. The 8 halves should fit just fine.Drizzle each cut side with olive oil covering the whole cut side–or put some oil in a small dish and paint the oil on with a brush.Sprinkle each half with Italian seasoning to taste.Pinch of salt on each piece.

Put about 2 teaspoons of granulated brown sugar on each half– or piling it up as much as you can get on each half–or that’s the way I like it. It takes a lot of sugar.

I usually bake them at 300 degrees for about an hour or an hour and 15 minutes. You need to cook them slow so the tomato will keep its flavor and the sugar will cook down. If you need the oven for something else at a higher tempertature (which I always do!), I pull them out–keep them warm and then run them under the broiler before serving.

This can easily be multiplied for however many people you’re having–I usually just figure two tomato halves for each person.


Yeast Waffles ( Lighter than air Waffles)

½ c water 105 degrees
1 T white sugar
2 ½ t active dry yeast (1 package)
2 c milk at 105 degrees (whole or 2% is ok–I’ve even used powdered milk reconstituted)
½ c butter melted and slightly cooled
1 t salt
2 c white flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 t vanilla
1/4 t baking soda

Put water yeast and sugar together until foamy–10 minutes or so. Pour yeast into milk. Add flour, salt, and butter. Beat until smooth. Put in a container over twice as big as the amount. Lightly cover with saran wrap and refrigerate. The mixture will more than double. Before cooking, add eggs, vanilla, and baking soda, and mix well.

Get the waffle iron really hot for these, and don’t fill the space up with the batter or it will spill all over. Experience will help you to know how much to put on the iron for best results.

Be prepared to make more waffles per guest of these than usual—for one reason, they are so light that you hardly feel you are eating a whole waffle, and they are so good, everyone will want seconds!


Candied Orange Peel (mostly Bill’s with Martha’s suggestions)

8 navel oranges
7 cups sugar
2 T light corn syrup
1 T grenadine

Slice oranges in half and place in large stockpot (I mean LARGE like at least a 6 or 8 quart)

Note: "Martha" says put the whole orange in—and I found that juicing the oranges first doesn’t diminish the orange taste at all–and you get fresh orange juice along with the peel–so juice them first, enjoy the juice, and just put the remains in the pot.

Fill pot with water to cover oranges generously. Cover surface of water with a piece of parchment paper cut to same size diameter as the pot. Note: I have no idea what this does–"Martha" says to do it.. I Did it. It did fine. Don’t do it? It works just fine–so forget that part)

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours uncovered.

Remove oranges and let cool. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon or a melon baller and discard (discard the orange flesh not the melon baller). Use the melon baller to remove the stem area and the "naval" area on the peels. Cut peels into creative shapes.

Note: "Martha" cuts into shapes---like the Eiffel tower, the rose window at the National Cathedral, and the Grand Canyon. I cut into strips. Strips work just fine.

Put 5 cups sugar, corn syrup, grenadine (this is just for some added color and is not necessary), and 2 2/3 cups water in the same pot. Bring to a boil. Add orange strips. Cover with parchment (?? Don’t bother) Bring to a boil and then simmer for another 2 hours. And stir now and then.

After two hours, turn off heat and let the whole gloppy mass sit for an hour.Remove strips from syrup. Drain on a rack for 6 hours or overnight (I usually spray a rack with Pam–put the rack over a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan that y ou’ve sprayed with Pam–then spread the strips over the rack to drain the excess syrup–it’s a lot easier to clean up this way.)

Roll around in a pile of sugar (sorry---roll the orange strips around---don’t roll yourself around---the sugar is really sticky and hard to get off your clothing and body).

Let the strips sit in open air---they’ll harden up a bit---if you put them in a closed container, they’ll stay soft. They’re really tough if you let them dry out too much.

You have to be careful about the time you cook and the oranges you use—I guess experience is the only way you can tell though. Some oranges have really thin tough skins, and some have very fresh soft skins with thick rind inside—you just have to do it several times to see what works best as far as time is concerned , you can overcook them to mush or undercook them pretty easily–experience will show you–but I like to check them ahead of time to keep from overcooking. The thick rinds that usually come with naval oranges really work the best.

I’ve also done these with grapefruit rinds and lemon rinds—the grapefruit is great, the lemon was not so good. But–most people enjoy the orange ones, so that’s usually what I do. They make nice gifts to put them in an air-tight container and give them as little gifts. And if you cut the pieces in the shapes of the person’s head, or his children’s faces, or his dog’s face, then the recipient of the gift really likes them better.


Cookie JarBrown Sugar Pecan Bites

2 c flour
2 c light brown sugar
3/4 c butter cubed
1/2 t salt divided
1 c sour cream
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
3 T white sugar
1 c coarsely chopped toasted pecans

Use a food processor and pulse together flour sugar, butter, and 1/8 t salt until crumbly–do not overmix. Take 2 3/4 cups of this and press it firmly and evenly on the bottom of a 13 X 9 glass baking pan sprayed with Pam.

Mix together the sour cream, egg, soda, cinnamon, white sugar, 1/8 t salt, and pecans. Add remaining crumb mixture and mix. Pour over crust and spread evenly. Bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes.When cool, cut into bite-sized squares.


Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

1 c butter softened to room temperature
½ c brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/4 c corn starch
1/8 t salt
½ c mini chocolate chips
1 T sugar

Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla thoroughly. Gradually blend in flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add chips. Form into 1-inch balls and place on silpat sheet. Put sugar on a small plate–and dip the flat bottom of a drinking glass in the sugar. Gently press down on each cookie to flatten all cookies evenly. Bake at 300 for 25-30 minutes.

I sometimes add 1/4 cup of toasted pecans to this. Other nuts work well too–just make to your taste.


York River Inn Toffee Cracker Bars

Saltine Cracker:–one package out of four
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 6 oz. package milk chocolate chips or pieces
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 t vanilla

Line a jelly roll pan (not a cookie sheet) with foil and spray with Pam. Place a layer of crackers over the entire surface (one sealed package is perfect–unseal it first–the paper makes a big mess if you don’t-haha).

Combine butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan, bring to a rolling boil, and boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Pour the hot syrup evenly over crackers. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Sprinkle hot surface with chocolate chips--wait a few minutes until they melt, and spread evenly over sugar layer--this is where the offset spatula is worth its weight in gold! Sprinkle pecans over the top and press into hot chocolate. Cool and cut into bars.

Alternate: use toasted almonds; use white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts; use peanut butter and choc hips and chopped peanuts.


Baked Green Tomatoes

4 to 6 green tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch thick slices


(I really prefer the ones that have already started to turn–not completely green, but sort of orange, but before they’ve gotten soft inside–still very firm--this picture shows them too green in my opinion on the left , near perfect in the center, and way too ripe on the right for this dish)

2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup evaporated milk or cream
1/3 cup water
2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 T vegetable oil
salt and pepper

1 c flour
1/2 c corn meal
1 t sugar
1 t dry mustard
1 t onion powder


Sprinkle tomato slices with salt and pepper on both sides.
In a shallow bowl ,whisk together the beaten eggs, milk, water, Worcestershire sauce, and oil.
Put the flour and meal in a shallow bowl along with the other spices, and mix well.
Dip each slice into egg mixture, then into flour mixture.
Arrange tomatoes in large, shallow, greased baking pans, or bake in batches. I usually use a large glass casserole dish sprayed with Pam. Tomatoes should not touch.

Bake uncovered in 350 oven for about 30 minutes, turning over after about 20 minutes.

Slice them real thin (like on a Mandoline) and they’ll be very crispy; but don’t cook them as long. This recipe makes a lot—I usually cut it in half, and I get enough to serve 6 people generously. People have heard of "fried green tomatoes" from the movie, and everybody wants to try them even if they’ve never had them before.


Innkeeper Bill Cole, also has several recipes featured in a cookbook by the Virginia Egg Council. If you would like a copy of their egg cook book e-mail them here: virginiaeggcouncil@erols.com

If you would like a specific recipe from the inn, feel free to E-mail the Innkeeper Here

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