Ok, so I basically had all the blog time a girl could ask for when the hubby and I escaped the Michigan snow for an amazing 12-day holiday vacation in Florida. There couldn't have been a better place to write than in the peace and quite of my parent’s country home with no stress, no distractions, and no required finger lifting aside from the occasional cream puff-to-mouth maneuver.
But what did I do instead? Um, stuffed my face with homemade cookies, splurged at antique stores and sprawled out on the couch watching Ginger Rogers and Carry Grant. Life was definitely good. Just not for my blog.
I didn’t stop cooking, though. Oh, no. I wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to cook alongside my mom in her beautiful bright kitchen stocked full of every cooking contraption I’ve ever dreamed of. Not to mention cupboards spilling with spices, cookbooks and the cutest vintage serving dishes. Nope, I stuck to the plan and made two dishes each week. Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
So, Christmas. Remember it? The decorations. The music. The palm trees. Oh, you didn't have palm trees? Well, I sure did, and I couldn't think of a more fitting complement than these crab cakes, with their appropriately red and green festive colors and tropical beachy aroma. Just perfect for our annual Christmas Eve appetizer extravaganza, a.k.a. five grown adults gorging on fried finger food and eggnog. So with Sinatra's voice echoing in our ears and the Florida breeze wafting through the kitchen windows, we laced up our aprons and got started.
First we made the cornbread. Really quite simple, just whipped up a boxed mix with some water and baked. Although, I'm ashamed to admit that I did burn it. Luckily my mom had a second bag. (Note: bake it in a small pan so it'll be nice and thick...not thin and, uh, scorched.) After it cooled, we broke it up into crumbs and set it aside.
Next was the sauce, featuring capers. I had no idea what capers were, so I turned to Wikipedia. Turns out they're unopened plant buds. But a peek into the jar looked more like a microscope shot from my high school science book. I tasted one. Not good. Had a weird sour-salty taste similar to olives. I hate olives, by the way, so I was a little concerned about the sauce.
The rest of the ingredients were wonderfully fresh and fragrant. Chives, Tobasco, lemon, garlic, mayo. I mixed it up and tasted. Heavenly good. Something about all those flavors together made it great, capers and all.
While the sauce was chilling, we made the cakes. Unfortunately, we made these on Christmas Eve before we opened our presents, so my mom and I didn't yet have our...wait for it... matching food processors! (I am so so excited!) So we had a bit of chopping to do. But it was fun, and I learned what a good knife and a little fast wrist action can accomplish.
Next was the sautéing - literally Christmas in a frying pan. Just look at those colors. Then we mixed in the rest of the ingredients, including the crab and cornbread, formed into cakes and chilled on cookie sheets for a few hours while we got ready for the Christmas Eve service.
Later that night, we prepared the finger food feast. Stuffed mushrooms, Italian beef subs, spinach-artichoke dip (everyone agrees - best spin dip ever!), and our crab cakes.
They turned out great. They're baked instead of fried, yet totally just as good. Ok, so maybe fried would have made them even more spectacular, but baking them was way easier, and allowed them to roll in at a measly 83-calories each! My favorite part was definitely the sauce. So good. Especially the next day on a crusty roll with a few peppercinis and leftover crab cakes. Now that's way better than a turkey sandwich, my friends.
So, while I wish I could have magically delivered a new post every day during the break like all the other power bloggers out there, I’m glad I spent my time off doing what you're supposed to do on time off. Absolutely nothing.
Mini Cornbread Crab Cakes w/ Lemon-Caper Sauce
Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 crab cake and about 1 teaspoon sauce)
Cookbook Note: Bake the corn bread up to three days in advance, and keep in a zip-top plastic bag. Combine the sauce ingredients and assemble the crab cakes the night before; refrigerate separately. Any leftover crab cakes are terrific with a green salad.
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/8 teaspoon minced garlic
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon (30%-less-sodium) Old Bay seasoning
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups crumbled Buttermilk Corn Bread
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
Fresh chives (optional)
To prepare sauce, combine first 8 ingredients; chill.
Preheat oven to 400°.
To prepare crab cakes, heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Combine bell pepper mixture, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, and next 6 ingredients (through Old Bay); stir in egg. Fold in Buttermilk Corn Bread and crabmeat. Scoop mixture into 16 portions (about 1/4 cup each) onto 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Lightly cover, and refrigerate 1 hour. Uncover and bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet with a metal spatula. Serve with sauce. Garnish with chives, if desired.
Nutritional Information: Calories: 83 (35% from fat), Fat: 3.2g (sat 0.6g,mono 0.8g,poly 0.3g), Protein: 7.4g, Carbohydrate: 6.4g, Fiber: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Iron: 0.6mg, Sodium: 317mg, Calcium: 54mg.
Source: Cooking Light, December 2007.