If you've been following my culinary adventures for a while, you probably know how much I love seafood. There's a French word "gourmande" that merely translates to "greedy" and I think it accurately sums up my personality when it comes to les fruits de mer (seafood). Thus it was fitting that at the Asian market this week I bought way too many crabs (again)!
Lulu's grand-uncle, who also enjoys crab, came to visit us, so I made a few crab appetizers for him. At first, I didn't know how I was going to present the crab, but I finally settled on savory "cookies" flavored with Dubliner cheese. A bit of cottage cheese serves as the "glue" for the whole appetizer, and the depression in each cookie is perfect for a spoonful of crab meat.
Servings: 14 appetizers
8 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cottage cheese
1 teaspoon smoked sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons chives, snipped
½ cup Dubliner cheese, freshly shredded
½ teaspoon fleur de sel (or regular salt)
¾ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup freshly cracked crab
(or store-bought already cooked, cleaned and cracked crabs), (a1 whole crab gives you enough for 1 cup)
2 cloves pickled garlic (optional), finely minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon curly parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
For the savory cookies:
In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and cottage cheese. Add the egg and smoked sugar (if using). Mix until well incorporated. Add 1½ tablespoons chives, the flour, fleur de sel and black pepper. Using a pastry dough blender, blend until the mixture becomes a thick, crumbly, sandy cookie dough.
Form several round (1½-inch to 2-inch diameter) logs of cookie dough and wrap them in plastic wrap. Chill them in the freezer until firm, at least 20-30 minutes. Slice the logs into 1-inch thick discs. Press the center of the cookie using a melon baller or any small spoon creating a deep cavity in each cookie.
Place the cookie on two baking sheets lined with silicone mats. Make sure they are spaced out so they don't touch each other. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, press each cavity of the cookies with the melon baller one more time and let them cool completely to room temperature before taking them off the baking sheets. They will harden and get firm as they cool.
For the crab topping:
Gather the crab meat in a mixing bowl, reserving the red pieces for garnish. Add lemon juice, remaining chives, fresh mint, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and extra-virgin olive oil. Toss well.
Top each cookie with a tightly-packed mound of fresh crab.
Garnish with fresh sprigs of thyme.
This recipe yields exactly 14 cookies.
These savory cookies are easy to make and you can freeze logs of the dough in advance for quick baking when you're in a hurry.
I strongly recommend Bourbon Barrel Worcestershire sauce and smoked sugar. They're absolutely delicious!
You can use fresh garlic instead of the pickled garlic but the garlic flavor will be a lot stronger. You can find pickled garlic in any Asian store. I've noticed it's also available in the fresh produce aisle at Safeway or Whole Foods.
To guarantee quality baked goods, use the best butter you can find.
For a more creative version, you can also roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick sheet and cut the dough using a cookie cutter.