Saturday, July 25, 2009
Crab and Avocado Melt, & Crab Salad, Tapas Style
I just celebrated my 54th birthday. I'm not ashamed of my age at all, and I've been practicing saying it-- F-F-F-IFTY F-F-F-FOUR! Gulp! I'm not so sure I'm ready to practice the S-S-S-'s. No, I won't go there!
However, I've noticed that a few things in me are slowing down--considerably. My appetite is one of them-- which could be a curse for someone (that would be me) who enjoys a good meal. My lunch, in Carmel that I blogged about on Wednesdays (this week), is a perfect example. I didn't think I ate a lot of food-- half a salad, one luscious short rib (rolling eyes at the memory) and half a slice of fudgy cake-- and a glass of Italian white wine... hmmm, that does sound like a lot now that I relive that wonderful meal! My point is, I couldn't eat dinner that night, though six hours had passed.
So, this Thursday night, I decided to prepare a dinner "tapas style". (For those of you who aren't familiar with the term tapas, Wikipedia has a definition of it.) I chilled a bottle of wine and I made "grilled fresh figs and brie, wrapped in prosciutto". I also made my own version of a crab melt.
This was put together, literally, by the seat of my pants! It all started with a visit to Whole Foods to look for fresh figs-- for the above mentioned recipe. I love Whole Foods, but it's 1/2 hour away from my home. I happened to be in Monterey and I was on vacation... so I took a leisurely browse through the aisles and I stopped at the seafood case. Whole Foods really knows how to create mouth watering displays. On impulse I bought some local fresh dungeness crab. I have no idea what possessed me to do that, because I usually don't prepare many crab dishes. I was slightly taken aback that the $5.99 a pound ended up costing me close to $14.00! Yikes! The shells weigh more than I thought!
Crab spoils quickly, and I felt I had gone over budget, so it was time to decide what to make. It was time to make something what I paid -- but, I was limited to what was in my refrigerator.
While in Cambria in early July, I bought their locally grown avocados for $1.00 each. I didn't get the name of the variety, but they aren't the more familiar Haas Variety. These are elongated and much lighter skinned. It sure took a while, but they finally reached their peak of ripeness and I knew that crab and avocado were a perfect match.
I had purchased a fresh baguette while stopping at our local (and world famous) Earthbound Farm so that was a no-brainer answer to what vehicle I would use for crab & avocado.
Feeling like an amateur Iron Chef, I looked at my herb garden. I have a mound of fresh chives growing like crazy and an unruly tarragon plant that just keeps going... so I snipped a bunch of each herb-- it didn't even make a dent!
Now, how to season the crab? White Worcestershire! Alas, the bottle smelled "off" (I keep forgetting to use this on fish) so I reached for a fresh lemon from our tree. I opened my spice cabinet-- Old Bay Seasoning! Yeah, that's it! (It's also what I add to my egg salad.) A touch of kosher salt and fresh pepper and about 1 Tablespoon of mayo-- just a touch and it tasted good. I debated adding hot sauce, but I decided against it. Believe it or not, we're hot big Tabasco lovers in our house-- yes, we are true Northerners!
I didn't measure, so here is the ingredient list I used:
Fresh cracked crab, Old Bay Seasoning, kosher salt & pepper, fresh lemon juice, Best Foods/Hellman's Mayonnaise, fresh chopped chives (scallions would do well), fresh chopped tarragon-- not a lot, maybe I Tablespoon-- and that was it!
In the meantime, I sliced the half the baguette into crostini sizes and then I decided to cut the other half into a sandwich size. I added a brush of olive oil and then popped it for one minute under the broiler (set a timer, or you'll forget it and burn it) until slightly golden. I quickly rubbed a clove of fresh garlic on them.
This is also how I prepare my bruschetta, and I almost reached for tomatoes, but decided we had enough food.
I decided to leave the other half without an avocado topping... I couldn't remember if my son liked avocado...
I spread some crab mixture onto the long baguette, topped it with some sliced avocado-- then I remembered that I had some sliced provolone cheese.
I topped the sandwich with the cheese and put this back into the broiler for about a minute-- until melted and bubbly.
In the meantime, my husband and son set the table, poured a glass of white wine while I plated the fig tapas and the sliced the crab melts into bite-sized slices.
I left a small bowl of plain crab with some crostinis. If I had fresh salad greens, I would have tossed a simple vinaigrette...
Still, this dinner fed the three of us very well. My husband, who usually isn't crazy about shellfish, enjoyed this tapas style meal. I also noted that my son loves avocado slices, because he devoured these with great relish.
I really like tapas style eating-- especially while the weather is pleasantly warm and the days are long. It won't be much longer before I start dusting off my slow cooker and retrieving my pressure cooker from storage, to start preparing my repertoire of homemade soups and stews.
That's another thing I've noticed, as I've aged (like a fine cognac, thank you)-- time flies so fast!
My summer vacation ended on Friday, July 24th-- 3 1/2 weeks disappeared so fast, that I didn't finish half of what I had planned to do.
Still, I enjoyed every single day, and I'm thankful to be employed.