16 March 2008

Emerging from Hibernation

The snow's falling fast and thick outside, but the time has come for my blogs to emerge - however briefly - from hibernation. Even though I'm in the midst of special event hell, planning for the biggest event of the year at work, it's time for a little blogging. Actually, maybe now is a better time than ever for my blogs; I don't really have the time to cook, but I can throw something in the toaster oven or microwave and spend a little time on the old blog instead (while scattering crumbs all over the couch - eating while typing is never easy).

Credit goes to my dear friend Pam, foodie extraordinaire, who faithfully checks this blog even though it's been more than three months since I updated it. This one's for you, Pam. :)

Ironically, I've had a recipe in mind to share ever since Christmas, when we went for our usual Outer Banks family retreat and celebrated the season of giving with a veritable orgy of fresh seafood. I freaking live for that week all year. While we were stuffing ourselves with a variety of mercury-laden yumminess, I managed to perfect my recipe for crab cakes, which has been evolving for lo these many years.

There's no doubt that crab cakes are best made with fresh crab, but regardless of whether you live on the coast, I firmly believe the secret to great crab cakes is for the crab to bread ratio to weigh far more heavily on the crab side. You might be scoffing, "Thank you, Captain Obvious," but I've eaten at plenty of restaurants where people actually paid to cook have got the wrong end of the stick, crabcake-wise.

The quantities on this might be a little screwy, because I was cooking for five instead of my usual two, and ended up making way too much food, so I'm going to try and scale this to sensible proportions for four people. Still, common sense warning; adjust as you see fit.

Ann's Super-Fantastic Crab Cakes

~2 lbs fresh or canned crab
2-3 slices day-old bread, torn into breadcrumbs (can also tear up & lightly toast crumbs)
3 eggs
1 T horseradish
2 t minced garlic
1 T lemon juice
1 T minced shallots
~ 1 t dry mustard
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t fresh ground black pepper
1-2 T fresh chives or spring onions

1-2 T butter or olive oil

Blend all ingredients together except chives/spring onions; stir those in after the other ingredients are well blended. Form into cakes ~2 inches in diameter. Place on plate or wax paper and let sit in fridge for several hours, if desired (this can help the cakes hold their shape better, and is nice if you have afternoon plans but know you'll come back hungry).

Heat a flat skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Once heated, add butter or olive oil one tablespoon at a time, and swirl around the pan. Cook crab cakes at least 4-5 minutes a side, to desired brownness (that is now a word, if it wasn't before).

Good with all sorts of dressings; honey-mustard, sesame-ginger, a homemade pico de gallo, etc. Cocktail sauce works too. :)

Update - November 24, 2008
Last night I made mini-crabcakes for a Thanksgiving potluck using this recipe. I've updated the recipe a little, and it definitely makes a ton of crabcakes - it made 24 mini-crabcakes, so regardless of the occasion, you could easily serve 6 people or more. If you're just cooking for two or one, cut it by half (use two eggs) or a third and you should have enough to stuff yourself happy.

I'm experimenting with baking crabcakes, too, at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, flipping once. We'll see how those turn out.

I made a pretty tasty butter-dill sauce to top the cakes with. I've tried to scale this for the full recipe, since I just made the sauce for the four we ate for dinner last night (using a half-stick of butter, a heaping t of garlic and about 1/8 c fresh dill):

Butter-Dill Sauce

3 sticks unsalted butter
2 generous T minced garlic
3/4 c fresh dill, chopped/snipped
fresh ground black pepper to taste
dash sea salt

Melt butter & saute garlic for a minute over medium heat. Stir in dill, pepper & salt til thoroughly mixed, then serve immediately. You can top the crabcakes with it and then serve them, or serve the sauce in a little ramekin on the side. Garnish the crabcakes with a little fresh dill if desired.

P.S. The butter-dill sauce is also good with some cayenne or smoked paprika thrown in - I'd probably start with 2 t and rachet it up according to taste.

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

Mmm...I love crab cakes. My favorite restaurant for the locally is Ted's Montana Grill. It's the special every Friday night. I'll have to try making yours.