I was determined to make crab cakes for entree and we were also contemplating a consomme. I fully intended to use a tub of pre-cooked and peeled crab, but was stymied at the gates by the cookup (and card playing) nazi. I was also looking forward to the clarifying process of the consomme, but this time the Time nazi reared its "chronoloco" (Ha!! got it in!) head.
This was meant to slow cook for about 3-4 hrs in an 80 deg oven ... not something we had possession of. So I put it on the lowest setting and we trundled off to the shops. We really should have hung around and checked on it every half hour ... by the time we had completed all our shopping, the outside had already started to caramalize and quite a fair bit of the inside had cooked through ... it should have been barely breathing really ... still oozing blood as there was still one more step in the cooking process ...
P had to debone the meat (and of course we each had a bone to gnaw on with relish ... certainly no vegos in this fold), sear the resulting fillet on all sides and it was back in the oven for another half hour or so. This by rights should have brought it right up to a nice pink ... but it came out a little on the overcooked tough side ... yummy nonetheless ... but not our finest.
Now I've ballsed up the chronology a little, so just imagine that this is all happening whilst we attend to the crab cakes, the spinach sauce and the potatoes.
This is the first time I have done crabs entirely on my own - i.e. cook and clean them. I have always been fascinated by crab cakes ... it just sounds like the perfect recipe ... what with the salted crackers and the mayo and of course the crab itself ...
We bought 4 Blue Swimmer crabs at Little Saigon for about $14. They went straight into a pot of boiling water (no they weren't alive) until cooked .. roughly 10mins:
While waiting for the crab to boil I mixed up the rest of the filling - salted crackers, sage (in place of tarragon) Parsely, eggs, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper:
Once the crab was cooked and cooled, M helped me with peeling the flesh out with his handy crab claw tool:
Yes the man is very proud of his tool ... ;-) (shit its my first emoticon!!)
Pretty soon I had the luscious mess moulded into 6 plump crab cakes nestling in a warm bath of olive oil.
Meanwhile P was scurrying around making the most delicious Spinach sauce and also being creative (I use this word loosely) with some baking paper and a splodge of anchovy butter:
The Spinach sauce was something else entirely. Its subtle, but the aroma and the flavour combined was the encapsulation of what the notion of savoury is ... well to me anyways ... and the rich green colour was visually appetizing ... onya P!! This makes up for your butter rolling skills, or lack thereof, one day I'll show you what a medallion should like.
M went to work on his potatoes which went in with the meat for its final blasting:
M also started work on the Rasberry Coulis for our dessert. We couldn't find any fresh so had to make do with frozen. I love the colour of raspberry coulis ... its so christmasy:
Propping up this hub of industry was a lovely bottle of Gewurtztramminer from Pipers Brook, Tasmania.
P you're a deft hand at this picking the right wine lark. You make sophisticated choices.
We were pretty much ready to plate up but P was desperately trying to get the pannacotta mix to thicken. Mental note - eugooglizing weights and measures doesn't always work. We were disadvantaged on 2 counts - (i) we couldn't tell what thickness to get the mixture to (ii) we were using gelatin powder instead of sheets. The moral of the story is - never stray from a pannacotta recipe - unless you have done it 50 million times before!!
So this is what the menu for the evening looked like:
Entree - Crab Cakes with Spicy Cajun Sauce (i.e. I threw in some pickled jalapenos to spice things up).
Main - Roast Beef Rib Fillet with spinach and cream puree and oven-crusted potatoes (yes I am taking liberties ... but at least I didn't babel it).
Accompanying this lovely repast was a bottle of Pol Roger (many many thanks P and Cheers!!) - which always reminds me of JH becoz he used to crap on about the cases he and D consumed on what seemed like a daily basis ... all lies ... freak!
And how did the pannacotta turn out? Well ... soup ... basically!!
Dessert - Vanilla Bean Pannacotta with Raspberry coulis (a la zuppe)
It tasted mighty fine regardless of its watery constituition. We were happy punters all the same.
And wasn't it just magical having the french doors open and the rain pelting down outside. Wish I could have captured the experience for you, but all I have is this woefully inadequate photo. This felt more like a spontaneous event than one of our official cook-ups per se ... but I couldn't think of a better salve for a crappy hangover-induced mood.