Thursday, December 31, 2009

Crab Cakes With Piment D'espelette Alioi

Gingerbread, sugar cookies, truffles, scones slathered in butter and jam...oh my! I want seafood now. And the only cake I want is a crab cake :-) I think they'll be a perfect way to ring in 2010. I actually can't believe we are entering a new decade in what still seems like a new century. 2010 sounds too much like a year that you would enter in a time machine and not with the clink of Champagne glasses. Alas, the future is now and there is no time like the present to celebrate the day. These crab cakes are great as appetizers, a light meal or for brunch. I prefer mine to be made with top quality crab, with as little filler as possible so that the true star shines through. I was able to get some really fresh crab meat from Whole Foods, but fresh crab meat is available in large food stores in most areas. My favorite recipe comes from Tyler Florence who I have a huge foodie crush on. He just knows how to take a dish and give it his own flavor. His version is simply made and goes perfectly with a Champagne toast. I made an Piment D'espelette Alioi that I created with some experimentation. I used the piment d'espelette that I bought at a Paris food market this fall. To make the sauce quickly, I used prepared olive oil mayonnaise (for ease and also to not use raw egg yolks), piment d'espelette*, garlic, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. This comes together in a snap and any leftover is good on just about anything! For an Asian sauce, I also want to try some chili sauces that Ju, at The Little Teochew and Zurin, from Cherry on a Cake have brought to us. Take a peek at their posts, I'm sure you'll be delighted.

However you ring in the New Year, whether it is quietly at home or at a large party celebration, I wish you the very best for a safe, happy and healthy 2010. Happy New Year! Ching-Ching!!

Crab Cakes
(Adapted from "Tyler's Ultimate", by Tyler Florence)

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (made from 3 or 4 slices of white bread with the crusts removed)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 large egg white
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus whole leaves for garnish
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Over medium heat, lightly cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the onion gets somewhat caramelized. Put that into a bowl and fold in the crab meat, bread crumbs,mayonnaise,egg white, lime juice, and cilantro, mixing until just well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into 6 fat crab cakes. Put them on a plate and put them into the refrigerator to chill.

In a large sautè pan, just cover the bottom with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the crab cakes and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until they are nice and crisp. Loosely cover if they need more time to cook in the center.

Piment D'espelette Alioi

1 cup good quality olive oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon, or more to taste, piment d'espelette**
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
olive oil
*piment d'espelette is a mild chili pepper from the French Basque area of France. It has a mildly hot and slightly sweet round flavor.
**Ground cayenne pepper may be substituted, just use about half of the amount.

Into the mayonnaise, mix the pepper, lemon juice, minced garlic, and Dijon mustard. Stir to mix well. Drizzle in a small amount of olive oil to reach the consistency you prefer. Refrigerate until serving.

Makes one cup.

Piment D'espelette
Aioli recipe click here.

Crab Cake recipe click here.

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