Kitchen Accomplice- You'll easily please the crabbiest gourmet with these crab cakes

   How often have you wished for a fine recipe for delicious crab cakes.  I like a recipe that is full of crab and just enough filler to hold them together. 
   When traveling with judicial friends from all over, I have discovered they are very choosey about crab and not reluctant to toss any barbs about crab cakes that do not meet their expectations.
   I was more than a little apprehensive to include these on a menu I had planned for a group of these judges for a dinner at our house following a judicial gathering. 
   I decided to move forward in small steps.  I made these in appetizer-sized patties and served them on small warmed plates as guests gathered. 
   These were followed by a chilled soup, very easy to do ahead, and a beef burgundy over toast points.  A green salad worked nicely with the dinner.
   For dessert, I could not resist pate a choux filled with ice cream and topped with Sanders Hot Fudge Sauce.  Any time I am in doubt about dessert, I always turn to ice cream.  Like Sara Lee, no one doesn’t like ice cream.  (Know in advance if you have a lactose intolerant guest on your list and make the appropriate substitutions for that guest.)
   Here’s how to go about making the crab cakes.  This is from a local club book I discovered some years ago in a Maryland bookstore.  It will not let you down.
   First, of course, is the crab.  If you are lucky enough to  live near a fish market, fresh lump crab meat, though expensive, is the best.  The frozen crab meat is surprisingly good as well and works perfectly.  The lemon mayonnaise really highlights the dish and adds just the right touch.
   The bread crumbs.  Be finicky about these.  The best bread to use is Pepperidge Farm thinly sliced white sandwich bread with crusts removed.  The food processor will reduce these to minute crumbs for mixing with the crab cake ingredients.
   The order of business is to start with the Lemon Mayonnaise.  A simple thing to do.  Start with a jar of Hellmann’s. Mix 1/2 cup with 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2  teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (a good use for your microplane); 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard and a pinch of red pepper.  Put in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Crab Cakes

  2 cups or 2 packages frozen and thawed, crabmeat
  1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  1/2 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  1 beaten egg
  2 tablespoons chopped chives
  1 minced clove of garlic
  1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  Pinch of red pepper and pinch of salt
  2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

  Flake the crabmeat finely and drain in a sieve, squeezing crabmeat firmly to remove as much liquid as possible.
  In a medium bowl, stir together crabmeat, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, egg, chives, garlic, lemon zest, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, red pepper, and salt until well combined.  The mixture will be moist.
  For the mixture into balls the size of large marbles, press with your hands into small patties and then coat on all sides with remaining bread crumbs.  Arrange in single layer on a plate and refrigerate for one hour or more.
Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Fry the crab cakes for five minutes turning once.  They should be well browned and heated through.  Add more vegetable oil as necessary as you continue.
  For the plates, I like to warm these in the oven, wrap them in a towel and place in an insulated bag such as sold in the grocery store to keep frozen foods frozen until  you get home.  This works well to keep warm things warm as well.  How does it tell the difference?  (Could not resist that old line.)
  When topped with the mayonnaise, and served on warm plates with forks and napkins, you will have presented a delightful start to your dinner party. 
Even the “crabbiest” of the judges present thought these were outstanding!

Judge Kirkendall is a retired probate judge.  He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law 
He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges and can be reached at


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