Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crab Cakes with Avocado and Mango Salsa

 
If you do a search for crab cake recipes, you will end up with a surplus of choices. It can be difficult to make up your mind on which one to make.  So, when indecision hits…make up your own recipe. The road to this particular recipe began a few years ago on a trip to Napa Valley. Mike and I stayed at this nice little B&B in downtown Napa that was very accommodating when it came to my dairy allergy. One morning their chef made me crab cakes with spicy aioli on an heirloom tomato. Never had a crab cake that way before. Love it!!! So, I started doing that at home. After a while I started to play with what I served the crab cakes with: tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados. Recently I had some thoughts rolling about in my head on what I could do take my crab cakes to the next level. I bought The Flavor Bible about a month ago and after perusing it’s pages those thoughts rolling around in my head started to form a cohesive idea: Crab Cakes with Avocado and Mango Salsa. It was a huge hit!

I typically like to keep my crab cake recipes relatively simple and allow the crab to sing through. Crabmeat is luscious, rich, and yet quite delicate. You have to be careful with what you prepare as an accompaniment. You want something that has enough acidity to cut through the richness, but not overpower the delicacy of the crab. I love how the salsa does this beautifully. The mango gives a light sweetness that when mixed with the other ingredients isn’t too cloying, the tomatoes and lemon juice furnish the acid, the cucumber provides you with a cool contrast to the heat and bite of the Serrano chili and shallot, and the avocado presents a creamy texture that balances the crunch of the vegetables.



Avocado and Mango Salsa

1 mango, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1 avocado, diced
¼ - ½ shallot, minced
½ - 1 Serrano chili, minced (optional)
½ tsp salt
1 ½  tsp lemon juice

·      Combine in all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.


Crab Cakes

½ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp dried parsley (2 tsp chopped fresh parsley)
½ tsp dried thyme (1 tsp chopped fresh thyme)
1 tsp minced garlic
½ cup dried cornflake crumbs (or panko)
1 egg
3 cans lump crabmeat, drained
1 can fancy crabmeat, drained
½ cup cornflake crumbs/panko


·      Preheat the oven to 350 F.
·      Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
·      In a bowl, combine and whisk the first 8 ingredients.
·      Gently fold the crabmeat into the mayonnaise mixture.
·      Fill muffin cups ¾ full with the crab mixture.
·      Gently press the crab mixture down.
·      Sprinkle the remaining cornflake crumbs over the crab cakes.
·      Bake for 15 minutes.
·      Crack open the oven door and broil for a few minutes, until lightly browned and crispy on top.
·      Let the crab cakes cool for 5 minutes.
·      Remove the cakes from the muffin pan and top with the Avocado and Mango Salsa.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Dairy Free Pizza

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Pizza has become a staple meal in the American home, but that isn’t possibly when you are allergic to milk products. Even if you can get the restaurant to leave off the cheese, there is always the problem of cross contamination.  For the longest time, I did without. It was frustrating. No matter what recipe I tried, the crust would come out soggy and it just wasn’t right. I even tried using hummus in place of cheese…didn’t like it. So, for those of us who can't have cheese, we get to stare longingly at our friends and family as they this savory pie. Last year for my birthday, my brother, Alex, and his then girlfriend (now wife), Bridget, made me pizza for my birthday. To be honest, I was skeptical, but I was more than surprised. It was AWESOME!!! I didn’t even miss the cheese at all. I make it quite often and I like to make a double batch and put half of the dough and leftover sauce in the freezer for a rainy day. I usually keep mine simple with mushrooms and pepperoni, though this last time I used crushed fired roasted tomatoes and really like the added bits of tomato.


 Sauce:

14.5 oz can of tomato sauce
1 tbsp dried parsley
½ tsp Mediterranean oregano (you can use regular)
½ tsp Mediterranean basil (you can use regular)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp minced garlic (approximately 2 cloves)
pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
·      Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan.
·      Over medium-high heat bring to a boil.
·      Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
·      Remove from stove and set aside.



Dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp Mediterranean oregano
1 tsp Mediterranean basil
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
3-4 turns of freshly ground black pepper (I like it finely ground)
1 cup water (approximately 110°F)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dry yeast


·      In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the flour and the next 7 ingredients.
·      Whisk to evenly incorporate the herbs into the flour.
·      In a separate medium* sized bowl (or into the bowl of your stand mixer), combine the warm water, yeast, olive oil and herb studded flour.
·      Mix until the dough forms a ball.**
·      Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for a minute or two.
·      Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a damp towel.
·      Place it somewhere warm.
·      After about an hour, the dough should have doubled in size.
·      Preheat oven to 450°F
·      Sprinkle your baking sheet (or pizza stone) with cornmeal
·      Spread the dough over the pan to the edge
·      Take a fork and lightly stab all over the dough. This will help keep the crust from bubbling up too much.
·      Bake for 6-8 minutes
·      Remove from oven

Assembling the pizza
·      Turn the oven down to 400°F
·      Spread ¾ cup of the sauce on the pizza crust
·      Top the pizza with your desired toppings
·      Return the pizza to the oven
·      Bake for 16-18 minutes (or longer depending on the amount of toppings)
·      Remove the pizza from the oven and enjoy.
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*Use a large bowl if you plan to double the recipe

**If the dough is too sticky, add just a tablespoon or two of flour. Be careful not to add too much because your crust will end up too heavy and dry.



Note: If you want to double the recipe to save 1/2 for later, wrap 1/2 of the dough in the plastic wrap and seal in a zip lock bag (make sure to squeeze all the air out of the bag). Place in the freezer, as well as any left over sauce. When you're ready to make pizza again, thaw out the dough and then set it to rise as you normally would.