My birthday was exactly one week ago. And since we’ll make the most of any excuse to celebrate, the festivities are ongoing. The hubby must've set out to spoil me because he’s been taking me out to eat a lot. We’ve indulged in fried chicken (my favorite guilty pleasure), ham and cheese croissants and chocolate bouchons at the Pearl Bakery, Chinese food, including an order of whole fried garlic fish (mmmm, garlic), gooey pizza, sushi, and Elephants Delicatessen’s Ding Dong Cakes. Yes, that’s cakes plural, because one cake is never enough. Oh, and he even managed to put a birthday candle into my birthday coffee. Don’t ask me how he did it, he’s the engineer…
Besides all that, we've also found room for some home cooking, mostly because I had to play with my birthday presents, all cookware of course (my family knows me well). So I made roast chicken rubbed with sweet Spanish paprika, garlic, and olive oil with the All-Clad Ultimate Chicken Roaster Hubby got me, and (although I’d already busted it out of its box and played with it once before) I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer Pasta Press Attachment, a gift from my generous parents, to make homemade extruded spaghetti with sausage and broccoli.
The only birthday activity I didn’t get to—and trust me, I’m not complaining—is baking a birthday cake. I do usually bake my own cake, but with so much devil’s food and whipped cream coming my way already, it would’ve been overkill…
Um, hold everything—did I really just imply that there’s such a thing as cake overkill?
Anyway, I prepared cake of another sort...Lucky for me, Pacific Northwest Dungeness crab season just happens to coincide with my birthday season.
Ultimate Dungeness Crab Cakes with Chipotle Mayonnaise
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 to 3 chipotles en adobo sauce, seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large egg
¾ pound lump Dungeness crabmeat, picked over
1 ¼ cups panko breadcrumbs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Blend together ½ cup of the mayonnaise, the chipotles, about a third of the garlic, and the lime juice in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt.
Mix together the green onions, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, egg, and the remaining garlic in a large bowl. Stir in the crabmeat, ¾ cup of the panko, and the remaining ¼ cup of mayonnaise and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide into 8 equal portions and gently form each portion into a ball. Gently pat each ball into the shape of a small patty, about 2 ½ inches across. Dip each crab cake into the remaining ½ cup of panko to coat, patting so that it adheres.
Add the oil and butter to a large, heavy nonstick frying pan and heat over medium heat until a pinch of the breadcrumbs sizzles immediately when added. Add the crab cakes and fry without disturbing for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a fish spatula, turn the crab cakes and fry another 1 to 2 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown. Remove the crab cakes to a paper towel-lined plate and drain for about a minute. Arrange the crab cakes on individual plates, divide the chipotle mayonnaise among them, and serve immediately.
Makes 8 generous crab cakes. Pasty crab cakes that taste more like filler than crab are an all-too-common disappointment, so this is a recipe for crab cakes that are crisp and buttery on the outside, tender and moist on the inside, and big on sweet crab flavor. If Dungeness crabmeat is unavailable, try another variety. Be careful not to shred the crabmeat when mixing it with the other ingredients, and use gentle pressure when forming the cakes so that they hold together. One last thing—you may want to make extra chipotle mayo because it’s great on burgers too.