Crab Salad Tea Sandwiches…

My life has changed a lot since I retired. And it’s changed so much more this past year with the Covid 19 pandemic. One thing that’s kept me sane is a small group of neighbors who get together with me every Monday to play cards. We started this weekly get together before the pandemic and we all are committed to following the same safety protocols so luckily we’ve been able to maintain our games (often masked for extra precaution). It’s managed to keep all of us sane.

Every week we meet at a different condo and once a month everyone has the opportunity to host. Hosting involves serving lunch. I love my turn to host because it’s an opportunity to try out new recipes on my guests. They’ve informed me they don’t mind at all being my guinea pigs and it gives me an opportunity to create an even greater arsenal for my blog.

I usually like to make something that I can prepare the day before and just heat up the following day. Normally that consists of soups, stews, casseroles and the like. A while back when I knew it was going to be cold outside I decided to make a creamy chicken and mushroom soup (recipe is forthcoming) and to add to it these crab salad tea sandwiches. I could make the crab salad the day before and the day of simply assemble and serve them.

So let’s talk crab salad tea sandwiches…

Lesson Learned 1 – Make the crab mixture the day before: With almost any type of salad like this, shrimp salad, chicken salad, crab salad, etc., it’s always best to make it ahead of time and allow all the ingredients to get sufficiently acquainted. The end result tastes notably different and better when the flavors get some time to gel. Plus an added benefit is you don’t have to scramble the day of your party because most of the work is already done. Take the time to make stuff ahead. It is well worth it.

Lesson Learned 2 – Use good crab meat and not the fake stuff: I know crab meat is expensive. The can I bought was on sale and I paid about $18.00 for it. But the flavor profile is so much better using good ingredients. A viable alternative is crab claw meat which is less expensive but I prefer the actual crab meat

Lesson Learned 3 – Rinse the crab meat with water: I found this is a great way to remove any gel or liquid that was on the crab in the can. Also go through the crab with your fingers and check for any shells. Sometimes small bits of shells can be on the crab and you want to remove them before mixing them with other ingredients.

Lesson Learned 4 – The trick to cutting nice small round sandwiches: I used a 3 inch biscuit cutter to make the sandwiches. I found I could make one sandwich, top and bottom, out of one slice of bread. I also discovered a little secret. Initially when I was cutting out the circles I swirled the biscuit cutter like you would when you cut dough. That created somewhat scraggly edges on the bread. Since the bread is so soft anyway, all you need to do is press down with the cutter. The round will form, you can easily pop it out of the biscuit cutter and you wind up with nice smooth edges. Live and learn…

These are very easy and fun to assemble and they are impressive looking and delicious. So try these out and tell me what you think…

Crab Salad Tea Sandwiches...

  • Servings: 14
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

8.5 ounce can of crab meat, drained and checked for shells

1/4 cup English cucumber, diced

1/4 cup orange bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup celery, finely chopped

1/4 cup mayo

1 Tbs. sour cream

1/2 tsp. dijon mustard

1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 generous Tbs. of fresh dill, chopped

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. white pepper

A couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1 loaf of soft white bread

softened butter

fresh dill for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the crab, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and celery together. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the mayo, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, dill, salt, pepper, paprika and Worcestershire sauce.

Pour the dressing over the crab mixture and carefully fold to combine. Cover and let chill for at least one hour, overnight is preferable.

Slice the bread using a biscuit cutter to create three inch rounds.

Butter one side of each piece of bread (this will help the sandwiches from becoming soggy). Place a helping of crab salad on top of one buttered slice. Put the other slice on top buttered side down.

Press down on the bread to push the crab salad to the edges of the bread. Garnish with a dill sprig. You can serve immediately or store covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for no more than one hour.

 

Hot Crab Appetizer…

I know I’m probably a day late and a dollar short posting an appetizer/munchie recipe after the Super Bowl, but often I don’t get to try out some recipes unless there is an occasion to do so, like a Super Bowl party.

I am a native Chicagoan transplanted to Colorado and so you can imagine how much fun Super Bowl 50 was here. Don’t get me wrong, if the day ever comes (and I’m not so sure it will happen in the near future) that the Broncos and the Bears play in the Super Bowl, my allegiance will be with the Bears, but until that time it’s been fun having an adopted team.

Crab Appetizer IngredientsI planned a party that consisted of a very simple menu so that I could actually spend time watching the game. One of the guests was going to bring an appetizer, so I planned to make an additional one. The rest of the meal consisted of Lou Malnati’s pizza (I got them shipped to me as a holiday gift and just love them) and a salad filled with a whole bunch of goodies like dried cranberries, homemade candied pecans, avocado, tart apple and baby spinach.

I wanted to try a hot appetizer since I knew I could serve it straight from the oven and, in my estimation, that’s when hot appetizers taste the best. So I thought I’d dabble in making a hot crab appetizer.

Let’s talk about that…

Lesson Learned 1 – Crab is expensive: Depending on the type of crab you use, 6 ounces of crab meat can vary in price up to about $25.00. I decided I did not want to use an imitation crab meat (what is that anyway?) so I did a little research on the types of crab meat available and the best uses for each.

Jumbo lump crab meat: This is the meat that comes from the swimmer fins of the crab. Since there are only two on each crab the amount of meat you can get from this source is much less and therefore more expensive. This meat has a nice, mild taste which was what I was looking for in the appetizer plus I wanted lumps of crab to be noticeable in the dish.

Lump crab meat: This meat comes from the body and the pieces can vary in size and are generally much smaller than the jumbo lump meat. This type of meat is great for crab cakes.

Lump meat mixed with body meat: this is much thinner meat with a finer texture and can easily be overpowered in a recipe by other ingredients. But it is also less expensive and so can be a viable substitute. Again making crab cakes is a good use of this type of crab meat or any dish where you want that hint of crab flavor but not pay as much for it.

Claw meat: Claw meat is darker and less sweet and has a stronger taste. For this recipe I recommend either jumbo lump crab meat or claw meat. The presence of crab will be noticed using either one, with the crab claw meat providing a stronger crab taste if that is what you want. Claw meat is in the medium price range. I found a 16 ounce can of it for about $14.00. I paid a little less than that for 6 ounces of jumbo lump crab meat.

IMG_9818Lesson Learned 2 – This recipe couldn’t be any easier: All you do is mix together all of the ingredients and bake it until the shaved parmesan topping is melted and starting to turn golden brown.

Everyone at the party loved this recipe and it was gobbled up pretty quickly, the sign of an appetizer hit. Try this one and let me know what you think.

Hot Crab Appetizer...

  • Servings: Party Size
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

6 ounces jumbo lump crab meat or crab claw meat

4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup of sour cream (you can use light sour cream)

1/4 cup mayonaise

4 green onions, minced (including the green parts)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (1/2 of a small lemon)

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 cup shaved parmesan, divided

1 Tbs. fresh flat leaf parsley, minced for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 (365 for high altitude). Mix together all ingredients thoroughly using only 1/2 cup of shaved parmesan in the mix. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Cover with the remaining shaved parmesan.

Bake for 30 minutes (begin checking the appetizer at 20 minutes). If the appetizer is bubbly but not browned to your liking place it under the broiler for a minute or two.

Serve immediately.

Hot Crab Appetizer

Hot Crab Appetizer

Hot Crab Appetizer

Get Your Holiday Crab On…

SINCE ORIGINALLY POSTING THIS RECIPE I’VE BEEN ASKED TO INCLUDE THE RECIPE IN THE BLOG AND I’VE TWEAKED IT SLIGHTLY FROM THE ORIGINAL. SO I WILL REPOST THE BLOG, WITH THE LINK TO THE ORIGINAL RECIPE AS WELL AS A PRINTABLE RECIPE ON THIS BLOG:

I stumbled on this one quite by accident. I was looking for a make-ahead appetizer recipe to bring to a friend’s house. All I could seem to find on Pinterest were appetizers best served hot and I wanted something I could make on Friday to bring to an event on Sunday. Somehow I stumbled on this recipe from justapinch.com called crab dip to make ahead. It sounded like it would fit the bill, so I decided to try it.

The challenge for me was finding some good crab meat. The last time I bought lump crab meat was from Costco and it was full of shells and very salty, even after I rinsed it thoroughly. This time I went to a local grocery store called Sprouts and found an 16 oz.can of crabmeat. When I opened it up, much to my surprise, it was a can of crab claw meat. The meat was tender, there were no shells and a slight rinse was all the meat needed. The dip took about 20 minutes to prepare and the recipe says it serves ten but I think it will serve more than that.

My rating of the recipe: A++++. This recipe is fabulous, easy to make and definitely one that tastes better once the flavors have had a chance to meld, so definitely make it ahead of time. This recipe would be a great addition to any holiday gathering.

Lessons Learned:

1. The recipe calls for 1/2 pound or 6 ounces of crab meat. I put in approximately 16 ounces. The more crab the better. There’s nothing worse than a crab dip where you can barely see or taste the crab.

Make Ahead Crab Dip

Make Ahead Crab Dip

2. The recipe includes adding unflavored gelatin to the mixture, the purpose being to keep the dip from getting too runny once it sits out for a while. I added it and would recommend it. The dip stayed nice and firm and you never taste the gelatin.

3. The original recipe also calls for either cream of shrimp or cream of mushroom soup. If anyone can tell me where to find cream of shrimp soup I would certainly like to know. I went to four different grocery stores and no on carried it. The cream of mushroom soup worked very well, but I would like to try it with cream of shrimp soup.

4. Everyone who tasted it loved it. You will be asked to share this recipe, I guarantee it.

Quite a few times I talked about the joy of trying a recipe and having it turn out perfectly the first time. This is one of those recipes. I was so excited to bring it with me to my friend’s house. Unfortunately the evening got canceled. My co-workers wound up being the recipients of my culinary success. Already four of them have asked for the recipe.

Holiday Crab Dip

  • Servings: 25-30
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1/2 – 1pound crab meat (I used a 16 ounce can)

1 8 oz package cream cheese

1 can cream of mushroom soup (I used the brand with roasted garlic)

1 packet unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup (4 stalks) green onion, chopped fine

1/2 cup (1 1/2 large stalks) celery, chopped fine

1/8 tsp. salt

1 package cocktail pumpernickel bread and/or party crackers

Old Bay for garnish.

DIRECTIONS:

Open the can of crab meat and drain. By hand, clean the crab meat and remove any remaining shells or cartilage. Set aside.

Cut the cream cheese into smaller chunks. In a medium saucepan combine soup and cream cheese. Stir occasionally until cream cheese has melted. Add gelatin and stir to combine. Stir in the mayonnaise until combined. At no time let the mixture come to a boil.

Once combined, take the mixture off the heat and stir in the onions and celery. Add the crab meat and fold in gently until combined.

But crab mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 6 hours (overnight is best). Put in a serving bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of Old Bay and a lemon slice. Serve with cocktail pumpernickel slices or cracker.

Holiday Crab Dip