Mostly I am very happy living my (relatively) ordinary life - although even saying that makes me frightened that some horrible fate might befall me tomorrow. Health, education, people to love and people who love me, passions, dreams, hopes, fears, idiocies and indulgences, I'm lucky with all. But today I am feeling extremely inadequate in my ordinary life. And not for the usual reasons like out of control hair or clumsiness. The source of my worries? I never slept with Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood or Burt Reynolds.
Mum gave me "Insatiable: Tales From A Life of Delicious Excess", the memoirs of Gael Greene, the restaurant critic on New York magazine. I expected a gee whiz romp through some of the world's best restaurants with a few recipes and tips on technique thrown in. I have read quite a few books in this genre and they all follow much the same pattern. Except that Greene, who I must admit I had heard of only fleetingly, was also a racy novelist who partook in all the excesses of the 70s and has decided to share them in detail. Just imagine being able to say: "Years later, I would glance at Time magazine and my breath would catch in my throat. There were two men on Time's January 9, 1978, cover and I had been to bed with both of them." Straightfaced. Both of them. Clint and Burt. And this, after her tryst with Elvis is detailed on page 9. I'm not really keen on Elvis or Clint or Burt, but I can only imagine being able to claim having been up close and personal with that trifecta. No wonder she published her memoirs.
Meanwhile, big excitement for me was crab cakes. It just doesn't have quite the same ring does it? I can't even claim it was a cover recipe, let alone the cover of Time. Nor do I envisage publishers will be squabbling over the rights to my memoirs ("She did make those great crab cakes, we must have her book!") So I will go back to reading about the lives of glamourous New Yorkers while I hide from the heat in Sydney and eat another crab cake.
This recipe came from "Bon Appetit" April 2009. It is pretty easy, and makes a very elegant nibble, which can be made a couple of hours in advance. Make these to eat with drinks and you won't need to serve a first course. When I next make them, my only change will be to line the muffin tins with foil so the crab cakes are easier to get out. I'm sure Elvis, Clint and Burt would approve, if you happen to be entertaining them.
Mini Crab Cakes
from Bon Appetit, April 2009
250g cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
4 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
180g fresh lump crabmeat, picked over, patted dry, coarsely shredded (I used good quality tinned crab, well drained)
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (approx 60g), melted, plus more for pans
Fresh chives, cut into pieces
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan and egg; beat to blend. Beat in sour cream, citrus peels, 4 teaspoons chopped chives, salt, and cayenne pepper. Fold in crabmeat. Cover and chill.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 2 mini muffin pans (or line each hole with foil). Toss panko, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons chopped chives in small bowl. Drizzle 1/4 cup melted butter over, tossing with fork until evenly moistened. Press 1 rounded tablespoon panko mixture into bottom of each muffin cup, forming crust. Spoon 1 generous tablespoon crab mixture into each cup. Sprinkle rounded teaspoon of panko mixture over each (some may be left over).
Bake crab cakes until golden on top and set, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Run knife around each cake and gently lift out of pan. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Arrange on baking sheet; let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 350°F oven 6 to 8 minutes.)
Arrange crab cakes on serving platter; sprinkle with chives.