Heads up, people. This Sunday’s Mother’s Day and we have high expectations. I’m offering some tips…consider it a guideline because if you know your Mama, and you better hope you do, this is almost common sense. Tip number one, and this is the most important one. Don’t mess with her. At all. She would never say the “F” word but you really wouldn’t want her to think it, would you? I thought not. Tip number two. I’m sure there are some mommies out there who don’t care for champagne but I’ve never met them. We love champagne, good champagne and lots of it. Please don’t skimp here. She’ll be thinking the “F” word and, again, we really want to avoid that. Tip number three and the final suggestion. Moms want to be treated to brunch with a presentation which is sumptuous, sensual and stunning. We don’t want purple daisies from the grocery store, unless they’re pick out by your four-year old who loves them, is so proud and is positively beaming. No. Do something nice. Get her some orchids. I have to say this old mom has all her string and beer tab necklaces, plaster of paris handprints, special hand-picked rocks and construction paper cards adorned with crayon flowers and stick figures and, people, I love them all. All! But we REALLY, REALLY like to be treated super well and pampered. Jus’ sayin.
This gorgeous salad pairs beautifully with sliced avocado and radishes. It can also be served on a bed of mixed baby greens. If it’s to be served over or with a salad of greens, go ahead and mix up another batch of dressing. There is only enough in one recipe to dress the crabmeat. Champagne is perfection with this crabmeat salad…the bubbly seems to bring out the sweetness. The fresh orange sections highlight the tartness of the palm hearts and any avocado slipped on the plate rounds out the luxuriousness of this indulgence. This salad is best assembled just before serving.
These sweet yet salty crab cakes are every crab lovers dream. How many times have we gone to a shi-shi restaurant and hopefully ordered crab cakes which should be crunchy and buttery on the outside, pearly white, sweet but briny on the inside only to be served a couple of heavily doctored, gluey, deep-fried, fish-like patties? Gosh, I hate it when that happens. So many restaurants trash seafood, from overcooked tiles of fish or rubbery, heavily breaded fried shrimp to our loved crab. It was different when we were growing up here in Lauderdale. As a child, there wasn’t the selection of dining spots we now have available. Our grandfather, Grandpa, had moved here from Cleveland when our grandmother passed away. He, too, lived on the water and loved to throw out a dozen or so crab cages. Every two or three days he’d let me walk down to the canal with him and pull up the cages. Each cage had small, round floater tied with a piece of monofilament making it easy to haul up the cages and check our catch. Every crab cage had been baited with either pieces of mullet, their heads, bodies and tails, or raw chicken necks. I loved everything about it!
After strolling down to the water’s edge I would lie on my stomach on the dock while Grandpa pulled up the heavy metal cages. My job was to tell him if we had caught anything. If we had he’d continue pulling, if not he’d drop the heavy box back down to the muddy depths of the canal. Most of the time, though, there were sweet, luscious blue crabs. We’d throw our haul into waiting plastic buckets, always being careful not to get pinched, then walk back to his apartment where Grandpa would spend the rest of the morning picking the crabs. I wasn’t allowed because I guess my parents thought I’d cut myself with a knife…and I probably would have. The waters were clear back then and the meat that came out of those crabs was the sweetest I’ve ever had. Grandpa made a gorgeous crab salad and his bisque was magnificent.
I’m sharing with you my recipe for crab cakes. I think they’re fabulous and they taste of crab…nothing else. No crackers, mashed potatoes or breadcrumbs mixed in. No fillers here. The Panko crumbs and butter make a light and crispy coating allowing the crab meat to positively shine. Serve with a homemade remoulade sauce or simply with freshly cut lime wedges but either way I hope you enjoy them!
Wow, was last week great, or what? The week ended with a brilliant Easter day here in south Florida. I didn’t cook. Jimmy, ever so generously, took us all to brunch. James ordered Crab Benedict which got me to thinking THIS week about crab….and remoulade sauce. Homemade remoulade sauce. And not some chemical-laden, jarred mayonnaise with a bunch of dried up, processed herbs and spices thrown in. NO, I craved the mile-long list of ingredients remoulade from the likes of Craig Claiborne and Julia Reed sitting alongside Pat Conroy’s crab cakes. Lee Bailey’s recipe is also lovely but his makes up 6 cups. A little more than I need on this spring day. Easy and quickly made, the sauce does require quite a few components but I’ve got to tell you, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator. I ate my weight in remoulade during the late 70’s in New Orleans. I was living in Atlanta and I was so lonely and lost. Those were bad…BAD years for me. Since I worked with Delta I would fly to N’awlins any chance I could and stay with a dear, sweet ex-neighbor from midtown Atlanta. His partner had up and left him for a richer man so my friend, Tommy, put in for a transfer to New Orleans and got it. We spent countless nights depressed and unhappy, losing ourselves in bourbon and gorging ourselves with the freshest of local seafood. Every time I left I was still a sad mess but I always welcomed the incredible escape of that city and its celebrated cuisine. Remoulade is spicy and the heady mix of ingredients will play in your mouth hard and long. It’s heaven. And it stays fresh in the refrigerator for a good week as long as you are diligent making sure your knives, cutting board, food processor and blade, etc. are spotless before using. Don’t skimp on the lemon and vinegar as those two ingredients also help to prevent bacteria. Furthermore it’s not just good with seafood. How about a BLT on a pretzel roll slathered with remoulade? Oh, and the tomato is a tart, fried green tomato. Mercy. This recipe is from Julia Reed’s book “Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties”. You’ll love it!