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Crab Cake Summer Salad

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My five-year old, Liam, and his three-year-old younger brother, Lucas, are inseparable. Yet the two boys could hardly be more different. One of the most notable displays of their differences comes in the form of their regard for truth-telling.

We like to joke that with Lucas, you always know where you stand. He does not mince words and he tells it like it is, for better or worse. The kid does not tell a lie, ever. Even at the cost of rewards or consequences.

Lucas, did you hit your brother?
Yes, I did. He looked at me funny.
What’s that smell, Lucas?
It’s me. I farted.
Lucas, are you going to cooperate for Mommy today?
No, I’m not. (Spoken with a voice of unfortunate regret and calm, matter-of-fact truth.)
 

Liam, on the other hand, is almost always scheming for his next treat or devising a plan to get his hands on some forbidden item. And he is hardly ever not spinning some story.

Whatcha doing, Liam?
Nothing.
It’s impossible to be doing nothing. What are you really doing?
Seriously, Mommy. I’m not doing any mischief. (Indicator of certain mischief)
If I need to come in there to see what you’re doing, I’m going to be upset.
Alright…I’m climbing on a precarious pile of knives, broken glass, and samurai swords, trying to get to the candy on top of the fridge. 
 

So, on the afternoon, when Lucas came crying to us, claiming that Liam had spit on him, we were inclined to believe him. When confronted, Liam repeatedly insisted that he did not spit on his brother. Finally, as my husband puts it, he played the Jesus card. In his words, I pay for Catholic school. That gives me the right to play the Jesus card. The Jesus card goes something like this: What would Jesus think if he found out you were lying? (Apparently, the infamous Catholic guilt doesn’t come from the church. It comes from the parents.)

But it worked. Liam let out a sigh and then reluctantly said, Alright… He then proceeded to carefully explain that he did in fact spit. And it was, in fact, in Lucas’ general direction. But he wasn’t spitting at Lucas. Lucas just happened to get in the way of the spit.

Sure…

The lesson here is…when in doubt, ask Lucas. And don’t take anything Liam tells you at face value.

I’m more of a Lucas when it comes to the truth, which goes to say that you can believe me when I tell you that this salad belongs on your list of must-make recipes for the summer. It’s a simple variation of one of my older recipes (Chilled Avocado Soup and Crab Cake with Chipotle Remoulade). In this variation, a simple broiled crab cake, loaded with crab meat and just enough filler to hold it together, is set atop a salad of mixed greens, ripe avocado, sweet corn, and summer tomatoes. A drizzle of spicy chipotle remoulade dressing completes the dish. This entree salad makes the perfect light, but satisfying summer dish. Crab, avocado, tomatoes, corn, and chipotle pepper…honestly, summer heaven.

Crab Cake Summer Salad with Chipotle Remoulade Dressing

Ingredients

For the Crab Cakes

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (regular or whole wheat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonaisse
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, such as Old Bay
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 pound jumbo lump or backfin crab meat, cooked*

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonaisse
  • 1 chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sweet relish

For the Salad

  • 8 cups mixed spring greens
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped**
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly shaved
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels

* Look for fresh-picked crabmeat in the seafood section of your grocery store. It’s a fresher alternative than canned crabmeat and a heck of a lot more convenient than picking your own crab meat!

** Click HERE for my photo guide on how to slice an avocado.

Directions

For the Crab Cakes: Preheat broiler. Wipe a baking sheet with a bit of olive or vegetable oil (to prevent sticking.) Combine all ingredients, except the crab meat, in a bowl. Mix until well blended. Gently fold the crab meat into the other ingredients, taking care not to break up the chunks too much. Use your hands to form four equal sized balls of the crab mixture. Gently flatten the balls into thick patties and place on the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet several inches under the broiler and cook for about 10 minutes until completely heated through.

For the Dressing: Combine mayo, chipotle, relish, and mustard in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To Assemble the Salad: Arrange about 2 cups of mixed greens on each plate. Scatter with the avocado, tomatoes, corn, and red onions. Place a warm crab cake in the center. Drizzle with the dressing.

Makes 4 Salads

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Crab Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

During my college years, I bartended, waitressed, and cooked (often simultaneously) at a local bar and grill. The menu included standard bar fare; burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, french fries, chicken wings… You get the idea. Among the appetizer choices were Jalapeño Poppers; like the kind you can find in the frozen food section of your grocery store. We served the cream cheese variety; my personal favorite. During my time there, I became a little addicted to those spicy little poppers. An order for six would come in, but I’d throw seven in the fryer. Quality control is important, you know. Between those cheesy jalapeño poppers and french fries dipped in wing sauce, I’m lucky I didn’t have to roll myself down the aisle at graduation.

Until last year, those spicy frozen snacks were my only experience with jalapeño poppers. I tried the cheddar cheese variety, but always returned to my favorite cream cheese poppers. And then, during last year’s winter escape to sunny Florida, I landed upon crab-stuffed jalapeño poppers on the menu at a beachside restaurant near our temporary home. These were not the frozen and fried variety I was familiar with. These were fresh jalapeño peppers, stuffed with crab meat, cream cheese, and seasonings; then breaded and baked. The difference in freshness and flavor was astounding.

I’ve been meaning to create my own version of those delicious, crab-stuffed jalapeño poppers ever since that Florida trip. This past weekend, I finally had the perfect opportunity. The result was a fresh, spicy, and satisfying addition to our hors d’oeuvres selection. Definitely keep these spicy little poppers in mind when you’re planning your holiday festivities. They take a little time to prepare, but the resulting fresh, spicy flavor is well worth it. They’re also a proven clear-your-sinuses remedy for the common cold.

Here’s a little tip… One of the reasons I’ve held off on making these crab-stuffed poppers is that my grocery store only carries lump crab meat in 1 pound containers, for a hefty fee. Occasionally they’ll offer an 8-ounce container, but for no great bargain. The popper recipe does not require a large quantity of crab, which potentially leaves you with a considerable quantity of pricey leftover crab meat. One option would be to whip up some Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, which make another great appetizer in miniature form. An even easier alternative, as I discovered this weekend, is to simply double the filling in this recipe and turn the leftovers into a really spectacular warm crab dip. Simply spread your leftover filling into a baking dish and bake until bubbly. Serve with chunks of baguette or crackers.

Crab-Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers

Ingredients

  • 18-20 Jalapeño Peppers
  • 1 (8-ounce) bar Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 teaspoon Cajun/Creole Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 4 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse jalapeño peppers, cut off the stem, and cut in half lengthwise. Use the edge of a teaspoon to remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar, crab, and seasoning until well blended. Fill each pepper half with a small mound of the mixture.

To bread the peppers: Arrange a plate with flour, a bowl of the beaten eggs, and a plate of bread crumbs. Stir the salt into the bread crumbs. Roll each pepper in the flour, then dip in the egg, then roll in the bread crumbs. Place the breaded, stuffed peppers onto a baking sheet.*

Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the outside is golden brown and the filling appears bubbly.

*If desired, you can prepare the poppers to this point ahead of time, refrigerate, and bake later in the day. To keep the crab fresh, don’t prepare the poppers more than a few hours ahead of time.

Chilled Avocado Soup and Crab Cake with Chipotle Remoulade

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Tonight’s meal was initially intended to be two separate meals.

Meal #1: Chilled Avocado Soup
Meal #2: Crab Cake Sandwiches with Chipotle Remoulade

Then, it occurred to me how marvelously the two would go together, like peas and carrots. You see, avocados and crab love, love, love each other! If it were socially acceptable for a fruit to marry a crustacean, the two would run away together and make millions of adorable baby crabocados. Until that day, we’ll just have to settle for joining them in perfect culinary union. With that in mind, tonight we’re making Chilled Avocado Soup decked with a Crabcake and dressed with Chipotle Remoulade.

We’ve really got three separate recipes going on here. And, they’re kind of like those items in your wardrobe that you can mix and match with other outfits in all sorts of ways. Make these recipes together, as I’m doing tonight, or use them in other ways. The crab cakes are fantastic as a sandwich or on their own, served on a bed of slaw. They’re wonderful full-sized or make perfect bite-sized hors d’ oeuvres. Serve them alongside a filet mignon with bernaise sauce for a really special dinner. The remoulade, a seasoned mayonnaise-based sauce, is great on seafood, but would also be delicious with chicken or roast beef. It also makes a great sandwich spread. Even I, the despiser of mayonnaise, enjoy this remoulade. The chilled avocado soup can stand alone (with a little dollop of creme fraiche) or top it with grilled shrimp, lobster, or broiled sea bass. Your options are truly unlimited.

Chilled Avocado Soup

  • 2 Ripe Avocados, skin and seed removed
  • 3/4 cup Chicken Stock (plus more, if desired)*
  • 1/2 cup Creme Fraiche (or sour cream)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1/4 cup Parsley Leaves or Cilantro
  • 1/2 Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp Salt (plus more, if desired)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 Jalapeno Pepper, chopped fine (optional)*

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste. Add additional salt and pepper, if desired. Add additional broth to make the soup thinner, if desired. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

*Use vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup.

* To add some spice without compromising the bright green color, add jalapeno pepper.  I did not have a jalapeno on hand when I make this soup today, but my guess is that 1/2 jalapeno should be about right.

Broiled Jumbo Lump Crab Cake

  • 1 pound Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, cooked*
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (or regular bread crumbs or cracker crumbs)
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Old Bay or Creole Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Mustard
  • 1 tsp Garlic, minced

*You can steam and pick your own crabs, if you want. But, I always buy steamed jumbo lump crab meat, that’s been hand-picked and packaged. It’s a time-saving and mess-saving option, which in my opinion, makes very little difference in the quality of the final product.

Preheat broiler. Combine all ingredients, except the crab meat, in a bowl. Mix until well blended. Gently fold the crab meat into the other ingredients, taking care not to break up the chunks too much. Use your hands to form four equal sized balls of the crab mixture. Place the balls on a baking sheet and gently flatten into thick patties. Place under the broiler and cook for about 10 minutes until completely heated through.

Chipotle Remoulade

  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Chipotle Pepper (from can of chipotles in adobo)
  • 1 Tbsp Capers
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Pickle
  • 1 Anchovy fillet*
  • 1 tsp Mustard

*Run your fingers along the anchovy, as you rinse it under running water to check for and remove any larger bones. If you choose to omit the anchovie, you may want to add a dash of salt to the sauce.

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To compose the dish:

Ladle some soup into a shallow bowl. (You don’t want the crabcake to drown in the soup, so don’t fill the bowl too deep.) Place the cooked crabcake in the center of the soup. Drizzle chipotle remoulade over the crab cake.

A little trick for drizzling the remoulade over your crab cake – Spoon some of the sauce into a small sandwich bag or ziploc. Use a pair of scissors to cut off a tiny bit of one corner.  Squeeze the sauce through the hole onto your crabcake.

Crab Cakes and Avocado. What The Gourmand Mom has joined together, let no one put asunder.

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