Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ad Hoc Sundays: Crab Cakes

YAY!!! I did it!!! I managed to complete the recipe in its entirety, take some pictures along the way and now I'm here documenting for posterity - ahhh, it feels nice to have something go according to plan for once! So, tonight I made Crab Cakes from Ad Hoc At Home along with piment d'espelette aioli & a piquillo pepper vinaigrette.

My mise en place:

Overall, this was a very straight forward recipe. I choose it for the sole reason that Central Market is having their GoCoastal Fest this week and the lump crab meat was on super sale. The only angst-ridden moment was making the aioli (mayonnaise). I tried to make it in the morning hoping to get some prep work out of the way and it was disastrous! EPIC FAIL!!! It had emulsified, but just wouldn't thicken :( GROSS! I stuck in in the fridge hoping that it would magically thicken, but alas, no. I almost went ahead and used the Hellmanns that I have in the fridge, but I guess this blog is keeping me honest. I gave it a second go before starting to make the crab cakes and consulted Julia (who else do you turn to in matters of making mayonnaise???). The Art of French Cooking yielded the vital info that you only add a few drops of oil to begin with instead of the slow stream (thanks a lot Thomas Keller ;/).

My Mayo - 2nd attempt

Apart from that setback, the rest was uneventful (in a good way). Hee hee, the yield of the recipe is 12, but I only got 7 out. I guess I made pretty big crab cakes.

The crab cake mixture was very loose so it was a little tricky getting them into the pan and flipping them while keeping them whole, but it all turned out well.

Dinner is served:

I would definitely make these again! The taste to effort ratio makes it something that I think is worth making, especially for a special occasion at home. If I were to change the recipe, I'd add in some celery. Actually, I don't know if crab cakes usually have celery, but I like celery for crunch and flavor and it seems like it'd be a good addition. Also I'd probably stick with the traditional remoulade sauce. The piquillo sauce was very tasty (sherry vinegar - yum!) and different but I think I'll be using the rest of that sauce on chicken or fish (something more bland than crab cakes). And I don't think that I'd make my own mayo for the aioli, although it was a good experience to go through for the sake of learning. The yield of his mayo recipe is 2 cups and only a quarter cup was used for the crab cake recipe - guess we'll be eating sandwiches this week :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Welcome to my first foray into the blog-o-sphere! Back in January I decided (or rather resolved since we are talking about New Year's Resolutions) to cook through a cookbook and blog about it. So, the plan was to cook an amazing meal every Sunday night and invite friends over to share it. And yes, I was marginally inspired by the movie Julie & Julia but more so by my need/desire to have something interesting in my life to call my own. I had the book all picked out (Ad Hoc At Home by Thomas Keller), secured a promise from my spouse that Sunday afternoons would be my time in the kitchen, and invited guests over for Sunday dinner. I was in my crazed obsessive mode and hunted down this cookbook (which was out of stock everywhere in January) visiting numerous bookstores in Houston until I found the very last copy.

I figured since we're talking Thomas Keller here, I'd better start out with an easy recipe for my first attempt and so I choose chicken pot pie. Chicken pot pie is homey, kid-friendly, honest - how hard could it be? Well, Thomas Keller's chicken pot pie kicked my butt! It wasn't difficult but just so fussy!!! The vegetables needed to be cooked in 3 separate pots each with 8 peppercorns, etc. For someone who cannot follow recipes, it was killing me to execute all of these persnickety instructions. The end result was delicious, there's no question about that, but I was exhausted --- and all for Chicken Pot Pie!!! I didn't even take a photo because I was in dinner party mode and just plain forgot.

That was 7 months ago. Since then I haven't made anything from Ad Hoc; however this is one resolution that I'd like to keep - with a few modifications that is. So here are my rules/goals:

1) I will cook 2 Ad Hoc recipes per month. My original every Sunday idea was utterly unrealistic.

2) I will follow the recipes to the letter. Why torture myself like this? First of all, I don't want to mess with Thomas Keller and second, I think that it will be a good lesson in discipline for me and will make me a better cook all around. By the end of this I will have made my own freaking mozzarella cheese and taken a blow-torch to a prime rib!

3) There's no timeline... I will cook everything in the cookbook at least once, but it could (and most likely will) take years!

Let the wild rumpus begin - we'll start with crabcakes this Sunday!