It’s been quite a while since I blogged about a full meal from end-to-end: appetizer, main, dessert. After a relatively mild winter on this east coast, my yearning for fresh farmer’s market greens and onion family members (chives, green onions, shallots, etc.) reached a fever pitch around mid-March. I ventured to my hometown for a weekend respite during the Spring Equinox, knowing full well that I would have full reign of the credit card for a trip to the farm.
I had a burning desire to incorporate some early spring bounty into the dinner menu, be it the charm of chives or the inherent sweetness found in an onion. My girlfriend was also in the midst of (Orthodox) Lent, so a meat entrée was simply out of the question. While flipping through the pages of Cooking Light, I happened upon a crab cakes recipe that incorporated small bits of spring fare. In the spirit of supporting the onion family, I also decided to fry up some brown-butter fried onion rings, instead of the customary rings fried in oil. (Feel free to take a gander at last year’s buttermilk onion rings, too.) The final piece of the puzzle was dessert, which I didn’t have to search long for, as I had plucked Yotam Ottolengthi’s semolina lemon cakes out of the April issue of Bon Appétit as soon as it arrived.
These recipe selections set the stage for a balanced and richly flavorful dinner. Sometimes, starting a meal with the most dense course (buttermilk onion rings), really helps alleviate the onslaught of food. This crab cake recipe in particular is honestly the best one I have ever made, as the crab mixture stayed intact throughout the process and crisped to a desirable golden-brown. The spring salad with buttermilk dressing also complemented this main course rather brilliantly. And what more can be said about Yotam Ottolengthi? Everything this man conjures up in his kitchen and then publishes is absolute gold – including these memorable semolina-lemon cakes. The confluence of semolina and almond flour in this recipe makes it one of my all-time favorite dessert recipes. #InYotamWeTrust
Here’s to the Spring Equinox and every delightful culinary creation that is to come!
Yields 4 crab cakes
2 tbsp. plain whole-wheat breadcrumbs (or whole-wheat Panko)
1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
1 tbsp. canola mayonnaise
¼ tsp. grated lemon rind
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
8 oz. lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed
1 tbsp. butter
1½ tsp. canola oil
Place first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Add crab; toss gently to combine. Chill crab mixture in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Divide crab mixture into 4 equal portions. With moist hands, gently shape each portion into a 1-inch-thick patty.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add butter; swirl until butter melts. Add oil; swirl to coat. Carefully add patties to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until crab cakes are golden brown and done.
Brown-Butter Fried Onion Rings
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. all purpose flour
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 large red onion, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rings
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
Place buttermilk in a medium bowl. Place flour in another medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, toss onion rings in flour; shake off excess. Dip in buttermilk, letting excess drip back into bowl. Return to flour and toss to coat again; shake off excess.
Yields 12 mini cakes
1½ cups almond flour or almond meal
½ cup semolina flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup of sugar
-Crab cakes recipe taken from the April 2016 edition of Cooking Light
-Buttermilk onion rings and Yotam Ottolengthi’s semolina lemon cakes taken from the April 2016 edition of Bon Appétit