Some New Recipes
Sweet Potato Crab Cake
For crab cake:
½ lb. fresh Maine crabmeat
1 sweet potato
1 egg plus one egg white from pasture raised chickens
1 small knob ginger
1 small shallot
nam pla (fish sauce)
1 stalk lemongrass
5 kaffir lime leaves
1 small knob galangal (optional)
1 tspn. turmeric (or use fresh, if you have it!)
For frying oil:
Coconut oil (use plenty)
Several garlic cloves
Hot pepper (preferably fresh)
1 egg yolk from a pasture raised chicken
3 oz. olive oil (lighter, for once, is better)
A few drops of lemon juice or white vinegar
1 small garlic clove
5-6 long fresh chives
one tablespoon garam masala
one tablespoon Maine maple syrup
Fresh basil (preferably Thai basil)
Shred the sweet potato as thinly as possible. A good vegetable peeler will work beautifully. It needs to be thin to ensure that it will cook. This is doubly important if you substitute yam, which is slightly toxic raw. Anyhow, you probably won't use the whole sweet potato. Certainly, don't put more sweet potato than crab in the dish. Now, combine the sweet potato with the crab meat. By the way, if you are awesome enough to be picking your own crab and want a little tip from uber-chef Ferran Adrià on getting out every last chip of shell, use a black light. The shell will shine like the velvety pink part of that Grateful Dead poster sitting with the black light in your parents' attic. Anyhow, slice up the inner, light-colored portion of the lemongrass into very thin disks, and then chop. Despine the little kaffir leaves, and chop them very finely. Finely mince the shallot. Chop the ginger and galangal (if you have it) very finely. Throw all this in with the crab and sweet potato. Throw in the egg and extra white. Splash in some nam pla. You'll probably want something like a tablespoon, but don't be shy with it, at any rate. If you can't find fish sauce, use 5-6 finely chopped anchovies. Sprinkle some sea salt. Stir it all up. Now get a generous portion of good coconut oil going in the skillet. If you wanted to be just a little more local, any pasture-raised animal fat would work, though I'd go for lard or schmaltz over tallow or butter. Throw the hot chili and garlic in the oil. Some will wind up on the crab cakes, but the idea is really to flavor the oil. When the oil is good and hot, put in the crab cakes (remember, smaller ones are easier to flip). Give them a couple of minutes on each side, so they're nicely browned but not at all scorched. Now go back in time and make the aioli. Whisk the yolk very well with a little white vinegar or lemon, and a pinch of sea salt, before beginning to slowly add the olive oil, making sure that your whisking is keeping it emulsified. When it is done, crush in the garlic, toss in the garam masala, and chop those chives nice and finely so those can go in, too. Add the maple syrup to offset the bitterness of the spice. Oh, and before you go forward in time again, chop up that basil, unless you have very small leaves, which would be beautiful intact. OK, now you can get back to those crab cakes. When they are golden and lovely, take them off, let them cool a bit, then smear on the aioli and sprinkle the basil on top.
Crab in Squash Blossoms
½ lb. fresh Maine crab
6 fresh squash blossoms
2 tbsp. of the most flavorful local butter you can find
1 small, bright orange carrot
Steam or otherwise cook the carrot. Then freeze it. Halve the squash blossoms, but be careful to not halve anyone inside. I was lucky to avoid harming or killing two of my friends' bees who were hiding in one blossom. They seemed dead, but were just dormant from my fridge, and gradually woke up and flew (hopefully) home. So cut the flowers at the base and then pull them apart. Melt the butter. Toss in the crab and get it warm. Stuff as much crab meat as possible into each half blossom. You'll be surprised by how much they hold. Place them crab-side down on a buttered baking sheet and set the oven to broil. When the flowers look lightly browned and/or golden, remove. Using a MicroPlane™ or similar grater, grate some frozen carrot across the plated blossoms. The orange will complement the orange in the blossom and reinforce the subtle suggestion of an intact crustacean.
Beef Liver Tartar 2.0
Apple cider vinegar
Pickled red beet
This is the Danish/New Englander version of my original Tuscan style Beef Liver Tartar, which uses lemon and olive oil. It should go without saying that it is only ever worthwhile (and ethical) to eat the best possible food in terms of sourcing, which is always the best in flavor as well. But when eating raw beef liver, I must stress once again that this should only be done with the liver of a healthy, grass-fed animal. All the other ingredients should, again, be of top quality and freshness, though I will belabor the point for the vinegar as well, since most people think of apple cider vinegar as something thin, sharp, and nearly repellant. There are, in fact, some beautiful, dark, complex, semi-sweet, aged apple cider vinegars which are in some ways similar to a fine balsamic, while being their own wonderful thing. Find one of these vinegars. It's just not worth doing this recipe with shitty vinegar. Use a good balsamic if you can't get a good apple cider vinegar. Or try reducing a mediocre apple cider vinegar. The result will not be, by any means, the equivalent of a finely crafted one, but will at least move you in the right direction.
The liver. Slice it into thin strips or discs and freeze the pieces individually. When you are ready to make the dish, let the slice(s) thaw just enough that you can cut them finely. A brunoise would be really lovely, especially if you are making this for guests. At any rate, chop it finely. Mix in just a little vinegar.
The onion. Slice it into paper thin discs and douse them with the vinegar. You can do this well in advance or right before serving. Obviously, the degree of pickling achieved will differ, but it will be great either way. See what you prefer. I rather like the crispness of really freshly pickled onions.
The garlic. I use a tiny bit. Maybe a quarter of a small clove per person. Chop it finely with flaky sea salt. The salt will help you chop and will absorb the essential oils, lest they remain on the cutting board. Mix this with the liver.
The herbs. Either chop them finely, or, for a really lovely presentation to go with that perfect liver brunoise, just pick and use the tiniest leaves, all intact. Mix some with the liver, sprinkle some on top once you are plating.
The beet. Dry it and place the disc in the middle of the plate.
Spoon the liver onto the beet disc. Sprinkle with herbs and some good sea salt (I always go with Maldon). Top with the lightly pickled onion. And, finally, top that with one or two nasturtium shoots.