Monday, June 4, 2018

Love Those Crabs!

It's crab time and I've got three different preparations for crabs today - 
crab meat boule, crab salad, and soft shell crabs.
Take your pick and enjoy!

First up is my crab meat boule.
I made my own bread bowls, but if you don't want to bother with making your own bread,
just buy a boule at the market.
Alternatively, if you didn't want to make the crab meat boules, this crab preparation makes a terrific dip.  Just heat through and serve with your favorite crackers.  Perfect for a party appetizer.

Bread Boules
Makes 4 bread bowls.
1/2 cup warm water
1 package yeast
sprinkle of sugar
1 cup + bread flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Pour warm water into a bowl and pour yeast in.  Sprinkle with a little sugar (a teaspoon or two) and let it sit until the mixture gets poofy and bubbly.  This is called "proofing" the yeast.  The yeast needs to "prove" its alive by eating the sugar and creating carbon dioxide and alcohol by-products.  In other words, it gets foamy.  If it doesn't get foamy, then your yeast is not alive and is no good.  Throw it out and start over with fresh yeast.
When the yeast has proofed, pour in a cup of the flour.  Fork the flour in until you get a shaggy, cohesive mass, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes or so until it's a pliable, elastic, smooth mass.  (If it's too sticky, add in a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is workable.)
Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough, then cover with plastic and let rise until doubled in bulk.
After dough rises, punch down, knead again, and divide into 4 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and place in oiled 1-cup ramekins.  Let rise again, until doubled.  
Bake at 350° about 20 minutes, until lightly browned on top.
Remove from oven and let rest about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and let cool.

 Here are my little boules, waiting to be filled with a lovely crab meat mixture.
Slice off the top of the boule and scoop out the interior, being careful not to break through the bottom or sides.  Tear the scooped out bread into bite-sized pieces.

Fill the boule with the crab meat mixture and bake at 350° until the crab meat is heated through and the torn bread pieces are lightly toasted.

Now, for the crab meat mixture.

Rosie's Crab Dip
1/2 pound crab meat, picked through to get rid of any shells
3 TB unsalted butter
2 oz. brie cheese
1 oz. cream cheese
juice of 1 lemon
2 TB minced red bell pepper
1 small shallot, minced 
splash of sherry (optional)

In a small pan over low heat, melt butter with brie and cream cheeses.
Stir in lemon juice, red pepper, and shallot.
Add in crab meat and incorporate.  Try not to break up the meat too much.
Heat through.  Add sherry, to taste.

Spoon mixture into boules and bake at 350° until bread pieces are toasted.

And here ya go!

I love an edible container.

Next, I have a cool crab salad for you, perfect for a light luncheon.

Not long ago, the Hawthornes attended another seafood class at the North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo.  This is an on-going series the aquarium offers during fall and winter - the off months.  Each class has a different chef working their magic.

Chef Randolph Sprinkle, of The Saltbox Café on Colington Road, was our guest chef for the last class of this season.  For the class, see here.  One of Chef Randolph's dishes was a crab meat salad served in a delicate sliced tomato bowl.  I admit I shamelessly ripped off his creation and made my own version.  (Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.) 

 For the tomato bowl, I thinly sliced a tomato and overlapped the slices, forming a bowl.  Again, an edible serving container!  I tossed some mixed salad greens with a homemade vinaigrette and made a green nest for the crab meat salad.

1 TB rice vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch sugar
sprinkle of dried oregano and basil
1/4 cup olive oil (Use your favorite.)
pinch kosher salt, or to taste
Mix all together.

Crab Meat Salad
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 TB rice vinegar
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB minced fresh basil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound crab meat, picked through
Mix first 6 ingredients until well combined.  Gently stir in crab meat.  Chill, then scoop onto salad greens in tomato cup. 
For the record, I use Grey Poupon Dijon mustard.  This is one of those occasions when the Foodlion brand is NOT a viable substitute.  Don't use that stuff.  It's nasty.  And FYI, don't use Foodlion brand chocolate chips either.  Nowhere close to Nestles.  I can't tell you my disappointment when I used Foodlion chips in my chocolate chip cookies one time.  Live and learn.  And now, you know.

Lastly, we have soft shell crabs.  Serve with a mixed green salad and vinaigrette and a dill dipping sauce.
For the soft shells:
Prepare the crabs by cutting off the face and I like to scrape out the mustard.  Not a fan of the mustard, although I know a lot of people are.  Different strokes...

Soak the soft shells in buttermilk for about 20 minutes, then toss in a coating of 2 parts each flour and panko to one part corn starch with a sprinkling of Old Bay Seasoning.  Shake off excess coating and then fry in 350° peanut oil until golden brown - 2-3 minutes each side.  Drain and serve with Dill Dip.

Rosie's Dill Dip
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 TB chopped fresh dill
Mix all ingredients.


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