Stir Crazy: Expensive doesn't always make a difference in a recipe

September 30, 2013 

Here's a hard lesson I learned last week: When you make crab cakes, using the really expensive crab meat makes no difference in the flavor.

Typically, I do not make crab cakes because they just never meet my expectations of what I've eaten in, for example, South Carolina. Still, I occasionally lose my mind and try again.

Last week, I used a recipe from Paula Deen. Say what you will about her opinions and public image, she's a go-to cook for Southern recipes. It called for 1 pound of crab meat. Instead of buying the best canned crab meat, I headed to the seafood counter and bought two 8-ounce containers of refrigerated premium crab meat. Let's just say that the containers, full of pristine, tasty flaked crab meat, would have bought me two very nice fllet mignons.

The crab cakes turned out well, very nice and browned with good texture. But, while they were good, I wasn't blown away by the flavor. Of course I'll try again at some point, but I will go back to the canned variety.

In case you're interested in the Paula Deen recipe, here it is, with a few minor adaptations from me:

Crab Cakes

1 pound crabmeat, picked free of shells

1/2 cup crushed crackers (I used Ritz)

3 green onions (green and white parts), finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (red and green look nice)

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1 egg

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

Healthy dash cayenne pepper

Flour, for dusting

Vegetable oil

Favorite dipping sauce, for serving

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and oil. Shape into patties and dust with flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve warm with preferred sauce. Makes 6 to eight crab cakes.

Editor's note: I mixed up the ingredients and put them covered in the fridge for an hour; I thought the cold would help form patties better. Also, dusting really isn't dusting. Pour some flour in a bowl. Using your fingers, lightly sprinkle some over each crab cake and pat. Don't do this until just before putting them in the pan.

I had a reader request for this recipe.

Peanut Butter Coffee Cake

2 cups Bisquick or similar baking mix

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup peanut butter


1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup Bisquick or similar baking mix

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups Bisquick with granulated sugar; stir in beaten egg and milk, then add honey and peanut butter and blend well. Turn batter into pan.

Combine topping ingredients until crumbly; sprinkle over the batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

I had two recipes I found last week for the story on apples, but they didn't suit the dessert theme. Still, I thought they were so delicious sounding that I couldn't resist running them. The recipes are from Reiman Publications, which owns Taste of Home and its many other food magazines and cookbooks.

Waldorf Sandwiches

1 can (20 ounces) crushed unsweetened pineapple

3 cups cubed cooked chicken breast

1 medium red apple, chopped

1 medium green apple, chopped

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup light mayonnaise

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

16 hard rolls, split

Drain pineapple, pressing out excess juice and reserving 1/4 cup. In a large bowl, combine pineapple, chicken, apples and celery.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, poppy seeds, sugar, lemon peel, vanilla and reserved pineapple juice. Pour over chicken mixture and toss well. Chill. Serve on rolls.

Yield: 16 sandwiches, each with 268 calories, 9 grams fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 394 mg sodium, 35 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein.

"Taste of Home Low-Fat Country Cooking"

Apple Broccoli Salad

6 medium tart apples, chopped

3 cups broccoli florets

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

11/2 cups mayonnaise

2 tablespoons white vinegar

11/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, combine the apples, broccoli, onion and raisins. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and salt; pour over apple mixture and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Just before serving, stir in the bacon and walnuts. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

"America's Best Church Supper Recipes"

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