Saturday, December 26, 2009

Crab Cake Appetizer on Christmas, 12/25/09.

First, brief blog update.  A few things I've learned/am trying to figure out after my first official post:
- I hate the word 'blog'.
- I still have no clue how to effectively organize my posts for good content and to keep you (and me) reading.
- Photo-albums... tons of photos, not sure yet where the 'upload your photo album' button is.
- Photo-quality may be an issue... my kitchen lacks in great lighting... most cooking will be done in dwindling natural light... warm hues will slightly alter colors in the photos... oh, and shadows may be a problem.  I'll do my best.
- I need to determine approximate servings in my recipes.
- What is my personality?  What's my shtick?  Does it matter?  Do you want to know what I look like?  (okay... the last part is probably 2 years and hundreds of readers/followers too early... I'm sure anyone reading this already knows... and hopefully loves/adores me.)
- If you have comments, suggestions, concerns, failed/successful attempts at what I'm writing about, please share them in the comments!!  



Crab cakes were delicious!  I've done crab cakes several times in the past... and they've always been over-salted.  I used to saute onion, celery, and bell pepper in butter and white wine... but not this time.  I've been reading about 'no-filler' crab cakes and decided it was time for a change.  So, here's how it went down...

INGREDIENTS:

Crab: 32 oz (2-16 oz cans) lump crab meat... I bought mine at Costco (love me some Costco Wholesale Warehouse... not trying to plug, just the damn truth!).
Basil: 1/2 c or more... chiffonade and a couple slices down the middle so you don't have 1-2" long basil 'hairs' that pull out of the cakes when eating them.  FRESH is a must... duh.
Scallion: 1/2 c, thinly sliced (again, I am partial to a bias cut).
Mayo: 1 c... make sure it's plain mayo, not 'sandwich spread'... only reason is you can season it to your preferences.
Dijon: 1 tbsp.
Eggs: 2 whole large.  I like eggs w/ brown shells... the seem real-er.
Crackers: 1 c or so, crushed into a powder.  Lumps/pieces are okay in my book until I'm proven otherwise.  I've read about saltines, Ritz, etc... I just used some plain butter crackers I had on-hand.
Cayenne Pepper: 1/2 tsp or so.  If you like more, add more.
XVOO: 1/4 c, more or less... a couple thin-streamed 'rounds'... avoid glugging it into the mixture.
On-Hand: s&p
**Note: No Old-Bay seasoning was used in the making of these crab cakes.  No reason... I just didn't have any on-hand and it happened to not land on my grocery list.

PROCESS:

1) Put all ingredients into a glass or plastic bowl (metal bowls run the risk of altering flavors on delicate/sensitive ingredients... take no risks).  Season w/ a good pinch or 2 of salt and fresh ground black pepper.
2) Gently combine the mixture w/ one hand... two hands if you're not dexterous enough... while turning the bowl to assist in mixing without 'mashing' or 'mushing' the crab.
3) At this point, you can either refrigerate the mixture or cook the cakes immediately.
4) In a heavy-bottomed skillet or shallow pan (I prefer good ol' black cast iron), melt a few tablespoons of unsalted butter on med-high heat.
5) Form cakes in your hand with about 1/3-1/2 c of the mixture.  Add cakes to the pan as your make each one... do not overcrowd the pan.  You'll need room to flip the over.
6) After about 4-6 minutes of sizzling, flip them over for another 3-5 minutes.  If you're not sure they're done on one side, lift up the first cake with a spatula for a peek.  You want a rich, golden-brown color.  If it's turning black, the heat is probably a bit too high.  Also, if you've browned them well but they seem soft/undone inside (you've probably made them too large for pan-frying), pop them in the oven at 325 for about 10 minutes.
7) Serve immediately.  Here's a brief recipe for a divine 'tartar' sauce to go with them... make it before-hand and chill it:

ACCOMPANIMENTS:

Quick/Delicious 'Tartar' Dip
- 1/2 c. mayo, plain
- 1/2 c. sour cream, full-fat (always!)
- 1 tbsp. Dijon
- 1 tbsp. horseradish sauce
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp. roasted garlic
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh!)
- pinch of kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper... a couple good dashes
**mix it all together and chill... easy!!

FURTHER THOUGHTS:

- Old Bay: what is the secret?  What contributes to the magic?  Must find out...
- Breadcrumbs v.s. crackers.  Toasted v.s. fresh.  Wheat v.s. white??  Definitely not.
- Other ingredients to enhance/lift the crab: celery?  garlic?  dill?  ???
- Ooooh!  Just thought of avocado... that would be incredible somehow.  Maybe alongside the cakes in a simple salad w/ greens and a citurs vinaigrette?
- Going Asian... not my area of experience... but think of fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili sauce, toasted sesame seeds, panko... must try this next time!

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry about the right and wong way to post to your blog. Just be you and put the photos in where they make sense. Check out what other food bloggers do... I'm thinking Pioneer Woman, Bakerella, Smitten Kitchen... they are all different and all very fun to read. There is no right or wrong way as far as I am concerned. :) As far as the photos go, a quick touch up can help brighten them up. In my experience, the blog is all about the photos, so if nothing else, make sure they are good. I know what you mean about photos in kitchen light. I have florescent lights in my kitchen and I'm still learning how to overcome it. If you don't have PhotoShop or other tool to correct, go to picnik.com where you can upload your photos and brighten them a bit to help make them more enticing. Not that I'm saying your photos are bad... I'm just saying that if there's something you want to try, you should try there. You can also upload your album to Flickr.com and then just share your photos on your blog... that way you can upload a whole album at a time and then choose which ones you want when you are authoring your blog post. One more thing... if you aren't already doing so, check out Windows Live Writer to author your blog posts. It allows you to author offline, which is cool because it sucks when blogger or typepad eats your well composed post just before you click Publish. :) Thanks for the great blog. I'm looking forward to following it.

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