Sunday, December 26, 2010

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Traditional Christmas Eve for Italians is often centered around the Feast of the Seven Fishes. No dairy or meat should be involved. The feast this year featured grilled seasoned shrimp, fried smelt, crab cakes, baccala (dried salt cod ), followed with lobster, mussels and scallop pasta in marinara sauce. With friends and neighbors stopping by for dinner and good will, the Feast was welcomed by all.

The Crab Cakes recipe from The Cottage Place Restaurant in Flagstaff can be found on page 28 in Tastes & Treasures cookbook.
Crab Cakes with Corn Sauce

Corn Sauce
1/2 cup marsala
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup water
1 cup roasted corn kernels or frozen roasted corn kernels, thawed
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Crab Cakes
1 pound crab meat, shells removed and crab meat flaked
1 rib celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup fresh corn kernels or frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 eggs
1/2 cup Clarified Butter (page 29)

For the corn sauce, bring the wine, shallots, salt and white pepper to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook until the mixture is reduced by one-half. Add the cream and water and return to a boil. Stir in the corn. Mix the flour and butter together and whisk into the boiling sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour into a blender and process until pureed. Adjust the seasonings to taste and strain into a bowl. Keep warm.

For the crab cakes, combine the crab meat, celery, bell pepper, corn, horseradish, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, chives, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 1/2 cup of the panko, 1/2 cup of the corn sauce and the eggs in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Divide the crab meat mixture into sixteen 2-ounce balls. Gently shape each ball into a round cake about 1/2 thick. Dredge the crab cakes in the remaining 1 1/2 cups panko, gently pressing to adhere. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Cover the bottom of the skillet with the clarified butter. Add the crab cakes and fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

To serve, ladle 1/4 cup of the remaining corn sauce on each serving plate and plate the crab cakes in the pool of sauce.

Makes 16 appetizer-size crab cakes