Crabcakes for a Crowd

We’ve been looking for a long time for a low-labor, really crabby crabcake appetizer and lo, this past Christmas, it happened!  It was a cocktail gathering for old friends, family, and neighbors: people we enjoy and with whom we wanted time to visit.  We put together this mini-crabcake recipe from a half-dozen we had clipped and it was perfect for our needs.  Each pound of crabmeat will make about 24 baked crabcakes which are mostly crab, toasted and crunchy…and can be prepared in advance.

  • 1 pound of lump crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup of thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 cup of finely chopped poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 ounces of white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup of baking mix
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of seafood seasoning…we prefer Old Bay
  • 1 tablespoon of good olive oil

Wash and drain well the crabmeat, picking through it to remove any unintended cartilage.  Microwave onions and peppers in butter for two minutes and combine them with the Old Bay seasoning, cheese, baking mix, half and half, olive oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Fold in the crabmeat gently so that it does not become too broken up.  Prepare a 24 cup mini-muffin pan by coating it generously with a baking spray.  Butter or oil may work but why take a chance?  Bake at 375 for about twenty minutes and take out of the oven.  Let cool before removing the crabcakes to a warm platter.  We served these with a small dab of lemon aioli made by combining homemade mayo with garlic powder, lemon juice, and more Old Bay seasoning to taste.

 

Kalamata and Feta Roll-Ups

Sesame Cents

                                             

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You’ll want to keep these little cocktail cookies on hand year-round.  They are simple to make, keep well in the fridge, and take less than fifteen minutes to bake.  This recipe makes about four dozen depending on the size of the coins.

  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup of sesame seeds, untoasted

Process first five ingredients until dough forms.  Divide it into halves and make rolls about 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in foil and chill for an hour.  Slice into quarter-inch, coin-like, discs and sprinkle sesame seeds on top of each coin, pressing gently into the dough.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees  in the lower oven for eight to ten minutes or until brown.  Watch carefully to make sure seeds do not burn.

Mint Julep Sweet Tea

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In the South we drink iced tea year-round, and due to mild winters, we find that the mint patch by the water hydrant is flourishing until mid-January, most years.  Thus, we present a delightful pitcher-take on mint juleps that will be particularly attractive to bourbon drinkers  whether it is Derby Week or New Year’s.

  • 12 mint leaves, crushed
  • 1 lemon, sliced thinly
  • 1 lime, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup of good bourbon
  • 3 cups of sweet tea
  • A brief verbal homage to General Robert E. Lee

Pour over crushed ice in a pitcher that can accept two quarts of liquid and enloy.

Vodka Tomatoes

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Hey, these can make your Christmas merry and bright, or any other day of the year.  We chose to marinate cherry tomatoes for this party but consider cantaloupe cubes, cucumber slices, or watermelon balls.  This takes care of the Vegans among you.

  • 3 pints of bright red cherry or grape tomatoes.
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar or a substitute
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh basil, finely minced

Make a X on the bottom of each tomato, barely cutting through the skin and plunge the whole lot into a pot of boiling water for not more than three seconds.  Remove with a strainer and plunge them into an ice bath of chilled water.  Drain on a towel and add to the marinade composed of the remaining ingredients, making sure the sugar is dissolved.  Be certain to cover the tomatoes completely and refrigerate for an hour.   Serve with a smoked salt or lemon pepper. 

Country Sausage and Collard Cups

These rich mini-muffins bring soulful memories to a tailgate or TV football party.  We prefer Conecuh sausage but any smoked pork sausage will work well.  Freeze the extras and reheat for your next party.

  • 1 pound of sausage, cooked and thinly-sliced into quarter inch thick discs
  • 1 ten ounce package of frozen collard greens, cooked, drained, and minced
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese, well-drained
  • 1 1/2 cups of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup of green onion tops, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of Vidalia onions, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh jalapeno, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • Sea salt to taste

Put a sausage disc in each greased mini-muffin cup. Combine the rest of the ingredients thoroughly and spoon into the muffin cups.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until brown.  Cool, remove carefully, and serve.  This recipe should produce over three and a half dozen muffins.

 

Hot Shrimp and Artichoke Dip

                              gulf shrimp

You simply can’t have too many shrimp dip recipes and here is one of the very best: easy to assemble but with a lot of flavor notes.  We enjoyed this at Bob and Judy’s houseparty in Orange Beach last Spring during our memorable fraternity reunion at the Florabama.

  • 1/2 pound of shrimp: cooked, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 teaspoons of dill, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of green peppercorns, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt to taste

Mix thoroughly and put into a quart stoneware baking dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes or until it merrily bubbles.   We like this with kettle chips.

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