Christmas Holidays and New Year’s Eve Appetizer Ideas
by Charlie Abowd
December is always a busy time of year in the Abowd family. Karen’s clients are trying to get into their homes before the holiday season and my customers are clamoring to have luncheons with fellow staff members and small Christmas parties. So, our life is like yours a hectic.
One of the many bright spots of December is that the Dungeness crab season is in full bloom. With that in mind, I thought this crab cake recipe would be appropriate for serving to your guests this holiday season. I know I have expounded on the use of Maryland crab for such creations, but this recipe is quite good with Dungeness crab.
Also, the fruit salsa that is served with them uses fresh melons which are not at their best at this time of the year. However, in this application, the green color and the tartness of the melon is actually advantageous to the recipe. I prefer to use honeydew melons or cantaloupes in this salsa. The honey and acid in the vinegar will bring out the freshness and flavor of the melons as you will see when you sample this recipe.
In preparing the crab cakes pay close attention to pressing all excess water out of the crab meat so that the mix does not get soggy.
Dungeness Crab Cakes
(6 – 12 people)
1 pound Dungeness crabmeat (both white and red meat)
3Ú4 cup panko bread crumbs
5 T.s mayonnaise
1 T. American mustard
1/2 T. tabasco
1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch (2 T.s) scallions, finely chopped (2 T.s)
2 T.s cilantro, finely chopped
sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 cups flour
Mix crab meat and next eight ingredients and form into 12 small crab cakes. Dust crab cakes with the flour and brown in a 12-inch saute skillet. Do six cakes at a time and brown lightly on both sides. Repeat with the remaining six cakes. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 300 degrees F for 15 minutes and serve with the fruit salsa.
Crab Cake Melon Salsa
1 1/2 cups melon, finely diced (1/4 inch cubes)
1/2 cup pineapple, finely diced (1/4 inch cubes)
1/2 cup red sweet pepper, finely diced (1/4 inch cubes)
1 teaspoon chili pepper, seeded and finely diced (Serrano or Jalapeno)
1Ú4 cup green onions, chopped (2 bunches)
1/2 T. vinegar (pineapple or raspberry) (half T.)
1/2 T. honey (half T.)
1/2 cup cilantro (half cup)
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients.
How about shrimp cocktails for six in a spicy horseradish sauce? I use this sauce when entertaining at home and find it to be very popular with our guests. One of the things that is different about my recipe is that I like to add sour cream at serving time. Carefully fold it in. Also, when using sour cream make sure you let the water drain from it by letting it rest in a fine mesh strainer and very lightly press on it.
The amount of horseradish in this recipe is based upon my pallet and is rather conservative. You don’t want to over power the delicate taste of the shrimp. As always, adjust to your pallet.
For shrimp I like using cooked bay shrimp because they are already cooked and cleaned so you only have to make the sauce.
Shrimp Cocktails with Spicy Horseradish Sauce
1/2 cup chili sauce or ketchup (half cup)
1/2 cup cooked and chopped bacon (1/4 cup in the mix and 1Ú4 cup for garnish)
1Ú4 cup rice vinegar
3 T.s prepared horseradish
1Ú4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1Ú4 cup green onions, finely chopped (2 bunches)
1Ú4 cup American mustard
Mix together and taste to see if you want to add more horseradish.
Just before serving mix in half cup drained sour cream. Place in cocktail glasses (I recommend martini glasses); fill half with sauce, add bay shrimp and top with a cilantro sprig and a lime wedge. Sprinkle a pinch of the remaining bacon on each cocktail.
NOTE: If you are lactose sensitive or do not like sour cream, this recipe is just as good with or without it.
My beverage recommendations are a Brancott Vineyards, 2003, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or my favorite beer of the year, Widmer Brothers, Winternacht roasted ale.
As always enjoy!
From my family to your family and from everyone here at the restaurant, have a great holiday.
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Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele’s. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City for 22 years. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.