Friday, June 13, 2008

Steven's Perfect Dungeness Crab Cakes

So last weekend I received a lovely package from the truly amazing Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Peabody had a contest celebrating her new blog Northwest Noshings that I was lucky enough to win. Unfortunately, the package arrived on a very hot Saturday and we were out of town at a beautiful wedding in Fort Wayne (where incidentally I met the guy who makes flies for urinals. Yeah, you read that right. Apparently boys need something to aim at. You can use them at home too. Check it out here.)

So in this beautiful package was some super delicious honey, the most amazing thick caramel sauce, a chicken rub that I'm itching to try out, and some half melted chocolates that despite not being at all photogenic by the time I got them were damn ass tasty. Peabody also sent me a great little cookbook called I Love Crab Cakes! Now, I live in rural North central Ohio. The closest crab is a long long long way off. So I called the Queen Geek and she was nice enough to bring down almost a full pound of canned crab meat. Surprisingly, the Detroit area has many many fish markets. Maybe next time I'm up there I'll pick up some fresh stuff. I was eyeing the Etta's Crab Cakes, but Peabody made those for one of her first posts.

Frankly, Peabody can make just about anything look a bazillion times better than I can. So I flipped through the book and decided on Steven's Perfect Dungeness Crab Cakes. I also have to confess here that I altered the recipe a little bit. The recipe calls for a full pound of crab meat and I only had 12 ounces. And after I almost chopped my finger off chopping the chives I decided that I was neither going to chop the herbs very fine, nor was I going to measure them. Actually I was fairly bad at measuring because I was in a wee bit of a rush. I had just taken a practice math exam and was on my way to my very first spin class since Wilma the knee made her debut, and I knew that I would pretty much be coming home from spin only to head for the shower, get dressed and leave for what counts as ballet in Nowhere, Ohio. Nowhere, Ohio is apparently a fairly cultured place. There was a surprisingly huge turnout for the local ballet school's recital. Fortunately these crab cakes were perfect. Just like the name. They were quick and lite and perfect for a quick afternoon dinner. I served them with some mashed avocado and tomato.

And if you're wondering if my friend the Queen Geek brought the crab while she was down here about 2 weeks ago, and if you remember seeing the contest on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody oh almost a month ago, why did I wait so long to make the crab cakes? And if you are wondering about the fairly sporadic posting that has been going on here, and what the hell is it with all this math? Let me fill you in. After a year and a half of being unemployed in a county that has an 11% unemployment rate and not really wanting to commute over 50 miles each way to work in a city, and some serious soul searching, I've decided to go back to school. I am going to be a high school math teacher. I figure I may just be warped enough to get kids' attention and share the joy of math. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have an undergraduate degree in Statistics and the school has offered me a deal. If I take the Praxis II content test for math and pass it before December, I don't have to take any more math classes (a savings of over $8,000). The test is tomorrow morning and if anyone has any tidbits of math advice, please leave a comment. It's been almost 20 years since I've taken most of this math and I'm a little skittish about it. So that's why I've been distant. Why I've been horrible slow at answering emails or responding to comments. Why the Brain might just get stuck with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner tonight. And after tomorrow morning I'll know if I need to keep studying and take the test again in September. Oh yeah. And I got a job at the local IGA as a "Donut Fryer". This could be fun.

So for now, enjoy the recipe for crab cakes and go check out Peabody's new blog Northwest Noshings it's pretty amazing, and if you haven't already, peak at her old blog Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. I'm going to continue writing SOHCAHTOA over every piece of paper I can find and I'll be desperately trying to remember matrix algebra.

Steven's Perfect Dungeness Crab Cakes
adapted from I Love Crab Cakes! by Tom Douglas

12 ounces Dungeness crab meat
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
the zest from one lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp minced fresh dill
2 Tbsp thinly sliced chives
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko plus more for dredging
about 4 Tbsp butter

To make the crab cakes, put the crab meat, mayonnaise, lemon zest, dill, chives, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix everything together gently with a rubber spatula. Add the 1.2 cup panko and mix again. Pour some more panko into a shallow container.

Form the crab mixture into 8 patties. Pat them gently into shape without pressing them too much. Drop the patties into the panko and turn them to coat both sides, patting to shake off the excess. If you have time, cover with plastic wrap and chill the crab cakes in the refrigerator for 1 hour or more before frying.

When you are ready to fry the crab cakes, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put 2 large nonstick ovenproof skillets over medium-high heat and add about 2 Tbsp butter to each pan. As soon as the butter is melted, add 4 crab cakes to each pan. Leave the pans on the burners for about a minute (the butter should not start to brown), then place the pans in the oven. Cook the crab cakes until they are heated through and golden brown on both sides, about 12 minutes, carefully turning them with a spatula about halfway through the cooking time. Remove the pans from the oven and transfer the crab cakes to plates, serving 2 crab cakes to each person. Garnish with a dill sprig and a lemon wedge.

(If you are like me and are only feeding two people, you can freeze the crab cakes before cooking and then thaw in the refrigerator and cook at a later date.)


Peter M said...

Mary, they sounds of food's best delights!

Peabody said...

Oh no, sorry it got to you melted. :(
You know, I was a former math teacher. My advice is try and get to teach the more advanced math. If you get stuck teaching algebra or geometry it is very hard to motivate those kids. But my AP calc kids were awesome to teach.

Bellini Valli said...

No Math tidbits from me Mary but I'm sure that these crab cakes sustained you before your exam. What a lovely package to receive:D

Tartelette said...

E have been catching crabs like crazy so this is very timely! Thanks for sharing!

Deborah said...

I'm a little late getting around to blogs lately - but it sounds like you are super busy!!

I could eat crab cakes once a week if I could afford that much crab. I'd go crazy with this cookbook...