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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Out of Their Shells - Crab: Two Ways

This past week I was all about Shellfish. That's not so out of the ordinary for me - I'm wild about the stuff. Especially once the warm weather hits, my thoughts turn to Crab Boils and Clam Bakes.  For me, Shellfish is just feel-good food - light, simple, and perfect for laid back summer meals with family, friends, and plenty of laughs.  

My craving ended up being perfectly timed since we spontaneously decided to head out to Montauk this weekend. Montauk is a charming seaside town at the tip of Long Island's South Fork.
Photo: NK

It was a wonderful day. The air was clear, the sea was bright, and the fish we ate was so fresh it practically wiggled on the plate. Since I am partial to the crustaceans and bivalves of the world, I made sure to eat one of each of the following (not all in one day!): a Lobster Roll, Fried Clam Bellies from The Clam Bar in Napeague, and finally, a tasty dish of my all time fave, Linguine with White Clam Sauce at Edgewater Restaurant (check out NK's version HERE). While this was decidedly not a diet weekend, I regret none of my food choices. And even better, I was able to spend time with some very special people - my mom and my husband. We also linked up with two of our dear friends who happen to live in the area. Friends make me happy, family makes me happy, Shellfish makes me happy - and I want to share it all with you, so here goes -   

Baked Mini Crab Cakes with Homemade Mustard Sauce
&
Open-Faced Crab Sandwiches with Mango and Pickled Green Tomatoes

Prior to this weekend, my most recent seafood craving was for Crab, so me and my husband consequently whipped up the two dishes I'll be sharing today. The first is a super easy and impressive cocktail bite - Mini Crab Cakes with Homemade Mustard Sauce: 


Mini Baked Crab Cakes with Homemade Mustard Sauce, Photo: NK

The recipe is surprisingly quick and the result is both delicious and really hard to mess up. A mini muffin tin allows you to skip the messy process of forming and frying up Crab Cakes, and makes it easy to turn out a large amount of appetizers in a few easy steps.  Whip these up for a cocktail party or as a light appetizer and you'll be everyone's best friend. A dollop of homemade Mustard Sauce gives these little savory cakes a tangy bite, and fresh chives add both to the taste and presentation. We like to use Back Fin Crab Meat. It comes pasteurized in the can and is cheaper than Lump Crab yet is still extremely flavorful. 

Mini Crab Cakes with Mustard Sauce
Lightly Adapted from Bon Appetit
Photo: NK
Makes 20-24 Mini Crab Cakes 

Ingredients:
1 Mini Muffin Tin - ideally enough for 24 muffins

8 Ounces  Fat Free Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 Cup finely grated Parmigiana Cheese
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Fat Free Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon finely grated Orange Peel
1/2 teaspoon finely grated Lemon Peel
4 Tablespoons finely chopped Fresh Chives
+
4 Whole Chives Cut into centimeter long lengths (for the garnish)

6 Ounces Back Fin Crab Meat (usually comes in 1 LB cans if Pasteurized Crab Meat)

1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 large pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 large pinch Hot Smoked Spanish Paprika
1.25 Cups Panko Breadcrumbs
3/4 Stick Salted Butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan

Method:
Generously grease muffin tin with with some Butter.
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix up the Homemade Mustard Sauce if using.* Recipe follows. 

Using an electric beater, beat Cream Cheese in a medium-sized bowl until smooth. Add 1/4 Cup of the Parmigiana Cheese and the Egg. Beat until combined, Add the Sour Cream, Orange and Lemon Peels, and 2 Tablespoons Chopped Chives. Add the Kosher Salt, Cayenne Pepper and Smoked Paprika. Beat again. Fold in the Crabmeat. This step can be done up to a day ahead and refrigerated. 

In a bowl, toss Panko Breadcrumbs, remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiana Cheese, and the remaining 2 Tablespoons chopped Chives. Drizzle the Melted Butter over the mixture, tossing gradually until evenly moistened. 

Press 1 rounded Tablespoon of the Panko mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup. Press a teaspoon into the cups to help form a crust. You can also do this with your fingers. Some Panko Mixture should be left over. 

Next, spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon Crab Mixture into each cup. To finish, sprinkle about a teaspoon of Panko Mixture over each muffin cup. 

Bake Crab Cakes until golden brown on the top and fully set. This should take 30 minutes. 

When cooked, cool pan for 5 minutes and run a knife around the edge of each muffin cup to loosen the Crab Cakes. Gently lift them out of the pan and transfer to the serving dish. 

As much as an hour before you are ready to serve Crab Cakes, dot each with a small amount of Easy Mustard Sauce* and garnish with centimeter long slices of Chives arranged in a crisscross shape as pictured above. Serve immediately.  

Easy Mustard Sauce*
Makes enough to dot 24 Crab Cake Hors D'oeuvres 

2 Heaping Tablespoons Low-Fat Mayonnaise
1 Heaping teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Dry Mustard Powder, optional
2 Drops Tabasco Sauce or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

~Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use. 

What to do with any leftover Crab? 
Easy - our Open-Faced Crab Sandwich on thick toasty Bread is a quick, delicious and inspired dinner Sandwich the next day. Pickled Green Tomatoes and ripe Mango create an interesting sweet/salty dimension, and a few drops of Hot Sauce ties it all together with a kick. 

Open-Faced Crab Sandwiches with Mango and Pickled Green Tomato
Serves 2
Inspired by Beyond Sweet and Savory 


Photo: NK 
Ingredients: 
8-10 Ounces Back Fin Crab Meat
4 Slices Thick White Sandwich Bread or Brioche, toasted

1 Large Scallion, white and green parts chopped
1/2 Ripe Mango, cut into centimeter cubes
1/2 Small Cucumber, peeled and cubed
1 Pickled Green Tomato, cut into centimeter cubes
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped Cilantro
1/2 teaspoon Canola or Vegetable Oil
1/2 teaspoon Lime Juice 
Pinch Salt 

1/2 a Lime, cut in quarter wedges 

For the Mayonnaise
1.5 Tablespoons Low Fat Mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Lime Juice
1 large pinch Salt
Several turns freshly ground Black Pepper
3 Drops Tabasco Sauce

Method:
In a bowl, combine Scallion, Mango, Cucumber, Pickled Green Tomato, and Cilantro. Drizzle with Oil, 1/2 teaspoon Lime Juice, and add a Pinch of Salt. Mix to combine. 

In a small bowl, combine the Mayonnaise, Lime Juice, a pinch of Salt, a generous sprinkle of Black Pepper, and a few drops Tabasco. Mix. Gently fold the Mayonnaise mixture into the Crab Meat in a larger bowl. 

To serve, set two pieces of Toast on each plate. Spoon equal portions of the Crab mixture on each piece of Toast. Top with the Mango and Green Tomato Mixture. Sprinkle Generously with Pepper and optionally garnish with an extra slice of Mango. Serve with Lime Wedges for squeezing. Enjoy! 

Open Faced Crab Sandwiches with Mango and Pickled Green Tomato, Photo: NK

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