Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar-Worthy Crab Cakes

Day 10 of Oven-less Existence:
It’s been over a week since we discovered the bottom burner of our oven had spontaneously combusted and shattered into three pieces, but I'm still forgetting that it’s in disuse.  For example, today is Oscar Sunday.  My family quite enjoys the awards, and the excuse to drink prosecco (I told you.  We're prosecco whores).  I also use this occasion as an excuse to make semi-fancy food.  However, this makes for quite a difficult task when limited to cooking sans oven. 
Tomatoes in foil pouch.

But the lack of working oven has not stopped me.  I decided this morning that I’d make crab cakes over a spinach salad topped with roasted tomatoes for our elegant Oscar dinner.  Only later - while in the checkout in the supermarket - did I realize that roasting would be slightly difficult without an oven.  However, I was not willing to give up my original vision (part of my anxiety stems from the fact that I like planning things, and when things don't go exactly as I've planned them in my head, or something throws a snag in the schedule, I start to have some issues).  These tomatoes were going to happen.  It was going to work.  They were necessary for this dish.  And necessity is the mother of invention - which is why I commissioned my dad to start a fire in the fire pit (I’ve tried doing it myself.  Really, I have, but last time I made a fire pit I successfully accomplished burning an entire Sunday Edition of The New York Times without any of the wood catching fire).  I stuck one of the racks from the oven over the charcoals, made a little pouch out of parchment lined foil, and roasted those babies very slowly over the fire pit. (Tip: If you want to try this, make sure you have heavy duty aluminum foil, or double-up on foil.)  They turned out to be a completely different animal than the those roasted in the oven; the oven tomatoes are shriveled skills with a thick, soupy juice, and these fire roasted tomatoes remained whole and sweet, while absorbing the smokiness of the pit.

While these crab cakes were not nominated for any Academy Awards, they received 4 Stars from the CAFD (Confoy Academy of Fine Diners).  

This crab cake recipe makes 6 cakes.  I served mine over a the roasted tomatoes and a simple salad of chopped spinach, red onion, and Brianna's Lemon Tarragon vinaigrette. 

Oscar-Worthy Crab Cakes 
1 tbs Brianna's Champagne Caper Vinaigrette
½ cup Vineyard Pantry Cabernet Roasted Garlic Mustard
1 tbs lemon pepper
1 egg
1 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt
1 cup panko
1 can (16 oz) claw crab meat

Crab Cake, Mimosa, Oscars.

+In a medium bowl, combine vinaigrette, mustard, pepper, egg, and salt. 
+ Add the panko and crab meat and mix until well combined.
+ Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour (you can keep them in the fridge overnight if you want to prepare the crab mixture the night before).
+ Form the crab mixture into palm-sized balls and flatten into patty form.
+ Heat skillet or large sauce pan on medium-high heat.  Spray with cooking spray, or lightly grease with olive oil.  Cook cakes for 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until brown and crispy.  Serve hot, or cold the next day on a fresh roll.

Note: You can replace Brianna's vinaigrette with any light vinaigrette, Vineyard Pantry with another grainy mustard, and pink salt with a table salt.  These are ingredients I had in the house, and happened to all work amazingly well together.
I may have finished this off before Billy Crystal finished his opening bit.


  1. Claudia, those look amazing!!!! Maybe we need both a NYC dinner date at a Foodie-approved restaurant and a night in where you cook amazing food, then blog about it. I'd be willing to be the subject of a post for you. I'm that selfless. Seriously, keep making my mouth water with these entries.

    1. Tricia, can we please? You are such a good friend offering yourself up for that kind of honor and prestige. ;)
      If you have any good Ecuadorian recipes, please send them my way!