improving martha

chesterHappy 2013 to one and all!   Let’s start the new year with a recipe!

So this holiday season I broke in a new hot crab dip recipe.  Not everyone in my house like artichoke hearts, so I had to find a recipe without them.

I received Martha Stewart’s cookbook Martha’s American Food as a Christmas present.  Truthfully it is a cookbook well worth purchasing or giving, but I have a habit of fiddling with recipes (even ones uniquely my own).  And I hate to say it because some giant hand bearing a whisk might pop out of the sky and smote me, but I improved Martha…or one of her recipes I should say.

She had a hot crab dip recipe, but looking at it I felt it needed some tweaking and additions, so I did that.  My friends have all been asking for the recipe, so here it is.  Note that my tweaks/additions appear in RED ink:

crab dipHot Crab Dip

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter PLUS 2 Tablespoons

1 RED onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (NOT whole wheat)

1 1/2 cups of HALF AND HALF(Martha calls for plain milk)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons dry mustard

few dashes of Tabasco sauce

6 oz shredded mixed cheddar (some cheese companies offer a shredded blend of mild and sharp cheddar. Martha calls for 4 oz)

6 oz of soft cream cheese (from the tub but not whipped)

Grated zest of one lemon and juice of that lemon (Martha calls for 2 Tablespoons, I just use a small lemon and call it a day)

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce(Martha calls for 2 teaspoons)

16 oz lump crabmeat, checked for shells (Martha calls for 10 oz, but most crab I buy comes in 16 oz containers, so that is what I used)

4 Tablespoons rough chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (Martha calls for 2 tablespoons)

2 Tablespoons fresh dill rough chopped no stems

2 Tablespoons minced FRESH chives

4 Tablespoons minced celery

Salt and pepper (fresh ground)

8 oz loaf of rustic bread sliced into small bites  crust removed

English cucumber slices (for serving with dip when finished)

Flat bread or thinly sliced French bread baguettes. (for serving with dip when finished)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a generously sized saucepan (medium to large) melt the 1 stick of butter over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, celery stirring occasionally until soft and translucent (4 to 5 minutes)

Whisk in flour and cook while whisking constantly (or it will stick and burn) (about 3 to 4 minutes – Martha says 4, I found it took a little less. (medium to medium low heat)

Whisking constantly slowly incorporate half and half in a steady stream (I am not Shiva so I don’t have 8 arms or whatever so I did put my measuring cup down occasionally – Martha of course doesn’t do that). Stir and simmer over medium-low heat until thick and smooth (about 4 minutes).

Incorporate cheddar cheese, stirring well so it melts all evenly and then repeat with cream cheese. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, Tabasco, and Mustard powder. Incorporate well.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste. (you won’t need much). You don’t have to over think or over cook this – you just need cheese completely melted and incorporated.

Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl combine crabmeat, fresh herbs**, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir in the cheesy-oniony mixture and fold together, check for salt and pepper (to taste – I cook with less salt these days so I found little adjustment necessary).

Pour this creamy and goopy deliciousness (it does taste good even at this point) into a buttered one quart oven proof dish.

Set aside.

In a small fry pan melt that 2 tablespoons of butter remaining.  Toss in bread you cut up as per ingredient list, add salt and pepper and cook a little bit (couple of minutes tops) – bread will be goldeny and butter with a light coat of salt and pepper.

Arrange bread bits on top of crab dip in the casserole dish and bake in your pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes – keep an eye on your oven because this stuff can boil over at the end.

Remove from oven and let stand at least ten minutes before serving because when it first comes out of the oven it is like molten lava with a crispy golden crust on top.

Serve with flat breads, crackers, or thinly sliced French bread baguettes.  Place a cucumber on top of cracker, bread slice, or flat bread and then dip on top of that.

I do not think I forgot anything, hope you enjoy this.

**Please note that if you like Cilantro, when you add your herbs to the crab as above, you can add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro too.