Crab Cakes

June 29, 2007

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Drive non-stop through the night to the coast, and if you’re lucky you’ll end up with crab cakes carillonning the dawn. I can’t vouch for this—never having been one to wake from a deep sleep and go out and bag breakfast—but Harry says if you wave a chicken neck on the beach, crabs run right up and grab it. ‘Sounds totally weird to me, but if that’s what you have to do to get Crab Cakes, DO IT! SAM

1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1 medium center rib celery with leaves, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
2 (7-ounce) cans crabmeat, drained or 1 pound fresh crabmeat (3 cups)
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs, divided
3 tablespoons half-and-half
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
2 teaspoons fresh dill weed
1 teaspoon dill seed, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 dashes of hot-pepper sauce
Sauce Piquant

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil and sauté the onion, covered, until tender. Add the celery and cook until soft. Combine the crabmeat, bread crumbs, half-and-half, egg, sherry, parsley, dill weed, dill seed, mustard, salt, pepper, and hot-pepper sauce. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Shape the crab mixture into 3-inch cakes and dust the sides with the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until hazy. Brown the cakes on both sides, about 2 minutes each. Reduce the heat to low and cook 5 minutes more. Drain on paper towels. Serve with Sauce Piquant.
Makes 10 cakes.

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Tuna Salad

May 31, 2007

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The kids in my neighborhood used to call this ‘tuna fish salad.’ It’s a perfect hot weather meal that begs for potato chips. You can serve it as a real salad on lettuce or vinegar-based slaw. But with fresh bread and lots of creamy mayonnaise, tuna fish salad sandwiches are one of the joys of summer. SAM

2 (6-ounce) cans white albacore water-packed tuna, drained
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1 medium center rib celery with leaves, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
3 tablespoons mayonnaise, plus additional for sandwiches
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Lettuce, tomato, avocado
Sandwich bread
Potato chips

In a medium bowl, flake the tuna with a fork and stir in the onion, celery, relish, parsley, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve on lettuce with tomato and/or chopped avocado, or in sandwiches.
Makes 2 cups or 4 servings.


Pimiento Cheese

May 22, 2007

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As long as we’re stuffing things into celery … Pimiento Cheese is right up there on my Comfort Food list with meatloaf and lemon chess pie. The celery seeds make the difference in this one. SAM

1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)
1 small white onion, grated (1/3 cup)
1 (2-ounce) jar pimientos, drained and finely chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon celery seed
Freshly ground pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the Cheddar, onion, pimientos, mayonnaise, celery seed, and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Serve on crackers, as a sandwich spread, or stuff into celery sticks.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.