Thursday, August 29, 2019

Crab Cake Pasta

click to enlarge

Have you ever made crab cakes from scratch? I have....and it can become a chemistry experiment gone awry in a very big hurry. It's not easy getting all those ingredients just right and formed into little hockey pucks that will not fall apart when you cook them.

And that is exactly why I am in love with this recipe by Emma Laperruque. She uses the very same ingredients you would use to make crab cakes...and makes it totally stress-free because she is leaving out the hockey puck part. She just tosses everything together in a bowl and adds in those beautiful pasta shells that make perfect scoops for the crab cake stuff. This is genius level thinking here!

While the recipe calls for jumbo lump crab meat, I would suggest you make the recipe even richer by using the meat from one Alaskan King Crab Leg. I buy mine in bulk from Costco for $21.99 a pound (so that I always have crab legs in my freezer).

4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
 Kosher salt
1/2 pound jumbo lump crab meat, drained
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 pound shell pasta (Conchiglie)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
10 saltine crackers
1/4 cup chopped chives


  1. Set a large pot of salted water, covered with a lid, on the stove to come to a boil.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons butter to a very large skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted and the skillet is hot, add the prepped celery, onion and scallion. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and stir to coat all the vegetables in the butter. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown.
  3. Once the vegetables are tender, push them toward the perimeter of the pan, so there’s a big empty circle in the center. Add another 1 tablespoon butter to melt. Now add the crab meat and sprinkle with salt. Cook the crab meat for about 4 minutes, until it’s just starting to brown in places, flipping halfway through. Pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice on top of the vegetables and crab, then gently stir to incorporate. Turn off the heat.
  4. When pot of water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes).
  5. While the pasta cooks, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crush the Saltines with your hands, then add to the butter. Toss to coat. Toast the Saltine crumbs for about 3 minutes, or until golden-brown. Sprinkle with salt.
  6. Now, combine the mayo, Old Bay, Dijon, Worcestershire, and remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a big bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
  7. When the pasta is done, reserve ½ cup or so of pasta water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the bowl with the Old Bay sauce, give a quick toss, then add the crab-vegetable mixture, about half the chopped chives, and a tablespoon of reserved pasta water. Gingerly toss again, taking care not to break up the crab lumps.
  8. Serve immediately, with the fried Saltines and remaining chives sprinkled on top.

Wine pairing: A big, oaky Chardonnay

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Grilled Flank Steak with Olive Tapenade and Charred Romaine

Many years ago, I came across a recipe for a Caesar salad that called for the romaine lettuce to be grilled over fire. I tried it and now I remember how remarkable the romaine tasted after taking a turn over fiery hot, lump hardwood charcoal.

It had been years since I last charred romaine on the grill, but it all came rushing back last Saturday when I saw Caroline Glover's recipe in the Wall Street Journal. She serves this dish at her restaurant, Annette, in Aurora, Colorado. Thanks to her wonderful recipe, my romaine is headed back to the grill this week.


One, 1-1/2 pound flank steak
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

2 medium heads romaine, green outer leaves discarded and root end trimmed
Olive oil

For the Romaine Dressing
2 shallots, skins discarded
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

For the Tapenade
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1/3 cup green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste


  1. Make the dressing. Preheat oven to 425ยบ. Place shallots in a roasting pan and add 1/4 cup water. Cover with foil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Transfer shallots and all remaining dressing ingredients to a food processor and blend until dressing is smooth and emulsified.
  2. Make the tapenade. Combine all tapenade ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper and grill for 6 minutes, flipping the steak halfway through. Remove from grill, tent with foil and let steak rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Brush romaine with olive oil and grill for 2 minutes, flipping the leaves halfway through.
  5. Remove leaves from grill and toss in a bowl with the dressing.
  6. Slice steak across the grain and arrange over romaine. Spoon tapenade over steak and serve.

Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon

Grogs and Goldie, 1956