Musing with Max

Musing with Max

April 11, 2011

Hope springs eternal...

We had such an incredibly cold and snowy, icy winter that I was actually beginning to doubt it would ever end. And then this happened
and it happened again...

...and then there was this
and all Max wants to do is go out and play

and I want to make Crab cakes because they are Spring as far as I'm concerned. So I eagerly run and get my copy of Food & Wine from May of 1995, yes 1995. Which is all about lovely Spring dishes and has the ultimate crab cake recipe from Sheila Lukins who was the cooking genius behind the Silver Palate and its cookbooks; sadly she died a few years ago at the age of 66 of brain cancer. These are her crab cakes and I love them, they're light and airy and tangy and they contain bread crumbs! I say that with such zeal because all I ever hear now and see in menus is chefs (some) and people who think they know food better than anyone going on and on about some restaurants' crab cakes because they don't contain bread crumbs. I fail to see bragging rights on this, just what on earth is wrong with bread crumbs? Got me. Anyway, these do contain them and they are sublime. So without further ado:

Sheila Lukins' Chesapeake Crab Cakes
6 servings

12 slices of best quality white bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup olive oil, more if necessary
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 lb. fresh lump crab meat, picked over
1 scant cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery (1/4 inch)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (1/4 inch)
1 tbsp tiny capers, drained
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp ground mace
dash of Tabasco
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp of butter, more if needed

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and toss with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and Old Bay seasoning. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until toasted. Let cool for 30 minutes. Using a rolling pin, crush the cubes into medium-fine crumbs.
2. In a bowl, combine the crab, mayonnaise, onion, celery, bell pepper, capers, parsley, orange zest, Worcestershire, mustard, mace, Tabasco, and egg with 1/4 cup pf the bread crumbs.
3. Transfer the remaining bread crumbs to a shallow dish. Form the crab mixture into 12 cakes about 3/4 inch thick. Carefully dredge the cakes thoroughly in the bread crumbs. Arrange the cakes on a platter, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to eight.
4. In a large nonstick skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat. Fry the crab cakes in batches, about 3 minutes per side until golden brown. (Add more butter and oil if necessary.) Drain the crab cakes on paper towels. Serve immediately.

I will admit, I don't bother with step one. I use the bread crumbs that I have which are usually fresh since I throw leftover bread in the food processor and grind it. I do add some Old Bay Seasoning to the crab mixture. And sometimes I use yellow pepper rather than red if that's what I have on hand and I may skip the orange zest if I don't have that. I will never leave out the capers though or the mayonnaise.

So now it's official, Spring has truly arrived! Yay, Yay, Yay!

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