Category Archives: crab

One Spooky Night and Deviled ‘Shroom Bites

It is a Halloween night and we’re going to have some hello-w/in time taking a break from home cooking and going out. Part of the plan is to drive by some areas where people have turned their front yards into some creepy insane asylums and have our share of spine chilling and laughs. I’ve already got a few good Halloween recipes listed in this blog including the yummy Dead Fly Pies, or Fly Cemeteries, or Fly Graveyards, which in fact are also more humanly called Eccles Cakes; and Pumpkin No Brainers . If I would be selecting a recipe that sounds crazy-scary-engaging for most of North American ears tonight, I would probably go for a traditional British fare with ominous name Spotted Dick But that would be some other time. For now I have something else and a great story to tell: about one of our recent nightmarish evening and a later flop-cooking experience.

Couple week-ends ago we were driving back home with the double brown bag of dozen live blue crabs in it. We were excited to make a fresh crab risotto later that night. We took a rural side road going through the forest to go back home to avoid traffic. We’ve never taken that road before and first were surprised about how empty and quiet it was.

The night was rainy and foggy although the full moon still casted the eerie glow through the clouds and trees. The crabs managed to wet the bags through and were going out of whack, so we had to make an emergency pit stop to catch them and collect them into the plastic bag. While we were stepping out of the car a peaceful booty-song on the radio has awkwardly switched to vintage Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face. It was then that I started feeling uncomfortable. I became fear-stricken by darkness, emptiness, silence and sinister shadows appearing through the forest trees here and there. ‘Eyes without the face have got no human grace…’ the radio went on when suddenly the end of the road was lit by a light which, obviously, seemed like another car was approaching. Except the light stood there without moving for a minute or so and then disappeared…

The Good Shepherd by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1903 Zimmerli Art Museum

No big deal, right? But for some reason for me it was a heart pounding moment. I couldn’t wait to get out of that road. Imagine when I told this story to one of our neighbours the other day, he revealed to me that the empty road used to be the place where Hell’s Angels gangs were making their executions and/or police would sometimes find a burning car with the body in it (how’s that for hair raising?). And that came as real creepy news to me. Was it a sixth’s sense? You tell me. But if you are a mystic or clairvoyance, perhaps you can see some ghosts in these images.

Otherwise you can just apply your imagination and try to read these moon shadows – it’s actually quite interesting…

Once back home we were greeted by the local two-headed Boo dog. Making a crab boil was already not so easy task (crabs appeared to be much livelier than lobsters).

After we hankered down in our kitchen with cracking tools and bunch of newspapers to process them. Already upon the first five minutes (and to our greatest regret) of tackling the impossible and having the crab scraps flying all over the kitchen, we realized that the fresh crab risotto would be ready by next morning or would have to be put on hold. Hubby quit first, declaring he was an equal opportunist believing in fair trade and no exploitation. OCD driven, I went on crab-cracking to prove that home crab flesh extracting (like pierogi-making that D. believes should only be made by prisoners) is a doable chore. The problem was, I was hungry, so most of the result secretly went straight into my belly. After the crab juice went into my eyes though I abandoned. Well, may be somewhere in Japan people from Okinawa island consider crab-cracking a meditative and fun activity which they practice often while whistling Japanese version of La Marseillaise. But there are many other things I’d like to do around my week-end. Not to mention that exactly during times like that you realize more than ever that time IS the most precious commodity… Change of plan (which is not unusual for the flop cooking): I went to the pantry, got a can of the crab meat, and deviled a box of button mushrooms with savoured crab meat into these little guys within 20 minutes.

Sounds like a cell phone from 90ies? Hell yeah, but still as exquisite as ever. By the way, they didn’t use much of smoked paprika in those days Slice some black or green olives for the top to give that Halloweenish twist and, voila, you got your ‘Eyes Without A Face’ party snack. We managed to eat them before The Midnight Hour.

Happy Halloween and enjoy your cooking!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Mini-Tarts

DEVILED CRAB ‘N SHROOM BITES 

Ingredients:

1 box button mushrooms (around 18-20)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup chives or scallions, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp white wine or brandy
¼ crumbs (gluten free if necessary)
1 (7 oz) can crab meat, drained
½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
1 tbsp mayonnaise or sour cream
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of smoked paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

Remove the stems from mushrooms with grapefruit knife. Chop the stems finely. Set aside. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped mushroom stems and cook for 1 minute. Add chives (or scallions) and garlic. Cook for another minute. Add a splash of brandy or wine. Evaporate for a minute. Add crumbs, mix well. Add crab meat and mix well. Remove from the heat. Stir in Parmesan, mayonnaise (or sour cream), mustard and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cool down. Stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place mushrooms on baking sheet. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan, Top with sliced olives if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Dublin Lawyer


I absolutely have to post this, because I can’t stop falling in love with Dublin Lawyer and what can be a better occasion than St. Patrick? It’s hard to imagine more festive and luxurious dish made in a jiffy from just a few ingredients, such as lobster or crab, butter, cream and whiskey (preferably Irish). Yes, it is the opposite of a typical Irish budget meal, but that is why it is deservedly famous as a rare treat called the Dublin Lawyer, ‘’named after the city’s wealthy lawyers and their liking for large amounts of whiskey’’.* I assume more whiskey is applied towards dinner wrap up, but it’s totally optional.

If you want to be a hero or act like a pro, you can take your time to dismember and remove the meat from a freshly cooked lobsters or crabs, which would ultimately deliver the tastiest results. I however, took a shortcut (because ‘we are worth it’ during holidays) and used canned crab/lobster meat to complete the dish in less than 10 minutes. I did the first batch specifically for the photos during the sunset using the canned crab. 

The best part of the process was flambéing the crab meat by drenching it in whiskey and setting it on fire until it extinguishes itself. It infuses the dish with additional layer of aroma and flavor and moderates the harshness of the spirit. A touch of smoked Spanish paprika enhances the exquisite richness of the dish.  Finally, I also happened to have a real Irish butter this time procured from Costco in Vermont.

Later I repeat the same spectacular process with 320 g of canned lobster meat to have 4 generous serving portions. Now, let’s check the final breakdown approximation for 4 portions (from a store bought prices) to see if it is really that expensive: one 320 g can of lobster meat, which is now on special at Loblaws ($15.00); ½ cup Jameson whiskey (around $6.00); cream & butter ($3.00); plus one optional shallot and a pinch of Spanish paprika: total around $28.00. Divided by four, makes around $7.00 a portion – totally worthy holiday dish made in 10 minutes!  What $7 can buy you at the restaurant these days? Perhaps a ‘soup of the day’ or a little ‘crappetizer’ but never something as luxurious. 

Served with some lightly cooked baby carrots and asparagus or peas on the side and a little green salad St. Patrick dinner doesn’t get any better, except it just did.

***
One year ago: Fish Chowder
***
DUBLIN LAWYER
Yields: 4 generous portions.
Ingredients:
4 large freshly cooked crabs OR lobsters OR, 320g canned crab or lobster meat
4 tablespoons lightly salted butter
2 shallots, minced
½ cup Irish whiskey
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of paprika, (smoked Spanish paprika is my choice)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions:
Pull the claws and legs from the crabs/lobsters and separate at the joints into sections, if using freshly cooked lobsters or crabs. Crack with a mallet. Use a skewer to pick out the meat from all the sections except the claws. Set aside. Pick out the meat from the body section, discarding the pointed gills, the stomach sac, and any sludgy brown sediment.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the crab meat and the reserved cracked claws.
Pour in the whiskey and ignite it. When the flames die down, stir in the cream. Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Stir for a few minutes until heated through.
Divide between four warm plates. Garnish with a pinch of paprika. Serve with lightly cooked baby carrots and asparagus or peas.
Adapted from: The Irish Pub: Fabulous Food from the Emerald Isle, Love Food, 2012*