Archive for the ‘Fish & Seafood’ Category

Maryland Crab Cakes

July 4, 2011

I recently finished a book called “I Loved, I Lost, I Make Spaghetti” by Giulia Melucci. The book was a quick read, and a wonderful mix between Sex in the City and Bon Appetit. The book takes you through Guilia’s dating life, along with the food she makes along the way. Recipes sneak into many of the pages, so the creations can be made by the reader.

When I read her crab cake recipe, made for her boyfriend at the time as an “all American dish,” I thought I could give it a try with the crab I had from a month ago (frozen) on this Fourth of July Weekend.

I have to admit I have tried crab cakes before and although they are always good, I could never get the texture just right. I am unsure if it was this particular recipe or my previous “practice,” but these cakes had the perfect crab cake texture. After reading more on the subject, I have a few tips for making crab cakes that don’t turn into crab scramble.
1. Make sure your recipe includes an egg as a binder.
2. Make sure your recipe includes some panko/bread crumbs as an additional binder.
3. Make sure to refrigerate for at least one hour to solidify before baking or frying.

Now that I have the basics down, I might get creative with this classic recipe – but for now, this is one of the best crab cakes I have ever had. I created a lemon mayo sauce to be served on the side.

Thanks to Giulia Melucci for her recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.

Serves 2

2 tablespoons celery, minced
2 tablespoons scallions, green parts only, minced
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 pound crabmeat
1 1/2 cups panko
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon, cut into wedges

In a medium bowl, mix together all but the olive oil, butter (and lemon wedges, of course). Shape into 4 patties. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour.

Over medium heat, fry in olive oil and butter until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.Yields 4 small crab cakes (2 per person).

Add 2-3 tablepoons of mayo with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Put a dollop on the crab cakes.


Scallops Gratin

January 12, 2010

For New Year’s Eve, my husband and I rarely like to go out. The streets are crowded, the bars are crowded – and it always SEEMS like a good idea until you are in line for a drink for 20 minutes after paying $40 to get in the door! So our New Years always consist of either small gatherings with friends, or a night just the two of us.

This year I decided to make something a bit different, and have a romantic dinner with my husband. Since I cook dinner from scratch almost every night, it doesn’t seem very “special.” So, I thought doing something way out of my wheelhouse would do the trick (that and a pricey bottle of wine!).

I saw Ina Garten make scallops gratin earlier during the week and I was always intrigued (and a bit scared). I don’t make fish or seafood too often because it isn’t my husband’s favorite, so I feared I would be so clueless I would mess it up. But Ina made it look SO easy! She even made it for a dinner party in advance, and threw it in the oven for 12 minutes while her guests arrived! Who doesn’t need a great party recipe like that?!

So after making the decision to go out on a limb (and run the risk of having a take out backup plan) I started making my list of ingredients. The problem was, however, I had nothing to bake them in! Sure, I could throw them in a 8 x 8 glass dish or stuff them in tiny ramekins. But Ina had such beautiful bowls – individual gratin bowls – that I just had to have.

I am embarrassed to say after a VERY expensive trip to Sur la Table (you can never buy things in just 2s, right?) I had the perfect dishes to make the perfect meal.

The meal was delicious! My husband still isn’t a huge scallop fan but said “if I ever were to eat scallops, it would be just like this!” which seemed like a ringing endorsement to me! They were cooked perfectly and with amazing, sophisticated flavors. No tips on this recipe other than to just follow directions and you will be fine. Only thing to note is do go by the pounds on the servings – the portions never seem like enough but the scallops are so rich they go further than you think.

So, enjoy this great meal and here’s to a great New Year!

6 Servings

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 large garlic cloves, minced (I would maybe pull this back a bit if you aren’t really into tons of garlic – it is a lot!)
2 medium shallots, minced
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, minced
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Pernod (optional – I made without since I didn’t have any!)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (the recipe calls for 2 but I recommend 1 since the prosciutto is so salty)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 cup panko
6 tablespoons dry white wine
2 pound fresh bay scallops
Lemon, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place 6 (6-inch round) gratin dishes on a sheet pan.

To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, Pernod (if using), salt, and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil slowly as though making mayonnaise, until combined. Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.

Preheat the broiler, if it’s separate from your oven.

Place 1 tablespoon of the wine in the bottom of each gratin dish. With a small sharp knife, remove the white muscle and membrane from the side of each scallop and discard (if present). Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and distribute them among the 3 dishes. Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. If you want the top crustier, place the dishes under the broiler for 2 minutes, until browned. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty French bread.

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