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.


Corn-Lima Bean Pasta

May 26, 2007

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If you’re on one of those dreary no-carb diets, don’t even bother to read this recipe. It’s carbohydrate heaven, and it’s divine! Use a good quality frozen corn and tiny baby limas, not those big, starchy things. Trust me on this one. You wouldn’t think that with corn and lima beans you’d need pasta—but you would be wrong. SAM

1 (16-ounce) package frozen sweet white corn
1 (16-ounce) package frozen tiny baby lima beans
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 medium sweet onion, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1/3 cup black olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
12 ounces linguine
Yogurt or sour cream for garnish

Steam the corn and lima beans according to the directions on the packages, being careful not to overcook. Drain well, set aside, and keep warm. In a large salad bowl, combine 4 tablespoons oil, the feta, onion, olives, mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, dill, and parsley. Add the corn and limas, stirring gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and dress with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Make a bed of pasta on each plate and fill with Corn-Lima Bean Salad topped with yogurt or sour cream.
Makes 6 servings.


Dilled Cream Cheese

May 21, 2007

 

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Sometimes the things we love the most we take the most for granted. Take Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese. It’s been around since 1880. It’s cheap. It’s everywhere. Add a shredded cucumber or a handful of chopped green olives and you have an elegant sandwich. You can melt it into spicy tomato aspic or whip it with confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice for a killer cake icing. My grandmother—who never cooked a day in her life—used to mix it with heavy cream and chopped pecans and stuff it into celery sticks. Cream cheese is something you should keep in your fridge at all times. That way, when the unexpected guest wanders in at cocktail time, you can conjure up the ghost of my grandmother’s celery or make this snappy dill spread. SAM

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 medium red onion, finely grated (2 tablespoons)
Juice of 1 small lemon (2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Celery sticks, crackers, or country bread

In a small bowl, mash the cream cheese with a pastry fork and stir in the dill, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Serve on crackers or country bread or stuff into celery sticks.
Makes 1 cup.