Monday, July 25, 2011

Crab Cakes with Good and Evil Tartar Sauce

I have some exciting news.  Paula Deen came to my house last night!!!

Okay...  not Paula herself, just her crab cake recipe.  Although I did make quite a few changes to the recipe.  (Shhhh, don't tell her!)

When I eat crab cakes, I always think of this restaurant in Indiana which served the most delicious crab cakes (seems unlikely, I know, since Indiana is not known for seafood).  But my sister and I would go there sometimes for a light lunch and share the crab cakes and a few drinks.  I don't know what they put in theirs, but I wish I knew their secret.  Maybe the crab cakes were just that good, but looking back, I think it was just having a relaxing lunch with my sister that made it memorable.

So when I went looking for a recipe, I decided to go to Paula, since I'm never disappointed in her recipes.  I was surprised, though, that her recipe didn't call for any butter!  I was prepared to cut it out anyway.

One of the changes I had to make was to the crab itself.  Paula can afford pounds of real lump crab meat;  my grocery budget only allows for "imitation crab-flavored fish protein product".  Sounds tasty, doesn't it!  But really, once it's combined with all the ingredients and browned on each side with a nice crispy, golden crust, the imitation crab tastes really good, so I don't think you have to spend a fortune to make crab cakes.  These were moist and very flavorful from the green onions and a little grated cheese, had a nice crunch from the diced celery and they held together well while cooking.

Last weekend, Jamie and I bought a jar of "Good and Evil" pickles at a farmer's market in Paonia, CO, and let me tell you, these pickles are addictive.  Slightly sweet pickles with spicy jalapeno slices make a great combination.  And did you know you can make your own tartar sauce with just mayonnaise, pickles and lemon juice?  We used our Good and Evil Pickles to give an extra kick to the tartar sauce with the jalapenos and it was so good--don't be shy, though.  I think ours could have stood to be a little spicier.

I just made a simple salad, if you want to call it that, to eat with our crab cakes.  Some fresh greens and sliced tomatoes, drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with freshly cracked salt and pepper paired really nicely with the crab cakes.  (We also made some delicious grilled peaches, drizzled with honey and toasted pecans...  more on that in another post, though...)

Crab Cakes with Good and Evil Tartar Sauce
Makes 8-10 crab cakes
  • 1 pound crabmeat, or imitation flake-style crab
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I used half fresh, soft crumbs and half dried)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons diced aged proscuitto (optional)
  • 1/3 cup grated cheese
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • flour, for dusting
  • vegetable oil, for cooking
 Good and Evil Tartar Sauce
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons diced pickles and jalapenos (or sweet pickle relish)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
 In a large bowl, mix together all the crab cake ingredients, except for the flour and oil.  Use your hands to incorporate everything well.  Form into patties (8-10 patties).  Sprinkle with flour.

In a large, flat-bottomed pan, heat 1/2 inch oil over medium high heat.  Sprinkle a few drops of water in the hot oil; when it sizzles, it's ready.  Working in batches, cook the crab cakes for 4-5 minutes on one side until crispy and golden brown, then turn over and cook for another 4-5 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel.  Serve with Good and Evil Tartar Sauce.

For the tartar sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined.  Make as spicy as you'd like!

Cauliflower and Artichoke Greek Salad

This salad is the last dish from my book club menu.  It's a little similar to the Mediterranean Vegetable Platter I've mentioned a few times, but there are enough differences to warrant a new recipe.  I really love all the flavors in this salad, and the drizzle of balsamic vinegar gives it a sweet and tangy kick that keeps you going back for more.  Which is not a bad thing since it's a perfectly good-for-you dish.  I think you can never have too many salad options for summer!

Cauliflower and Artichoke Greek Salad

  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup sliced olives (Greek or Kalamata)
  • 4 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion
  • cucumber or zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup roasted, marinated red peppers (optional--I used a few that came in a jar of Greek olives I had)
  • a few banana peppers (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
In a large bowl, combine everything except the balsamic vinegar and feta cheese.  Adjust seasoning if needed.  Cover and let marinate in the fridge for about an hour before serving.  Right before serving, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and top with the feta cheese.  (Since the balsamic vinegar is such a dark color, adding it earlier will stain all the vegetables and you'll have a brown salad.)