When my husband goes out of town, I like to treat and distract myself by cooking nice meals to be enjoyed solo. He’s my favorite person to be around and when he leaves, I find myself doing things to keep my mind off of the house being so quiet. I grew up with lots of noise, two sisters, and very little privacy, and that first night with him gone is always a little, well… boring. Close quarters and bedlam are my peace.
Lots of people would savor that quiet, private, coffee commercial-like time… not me. I am happiest when surrounded by people I love (and sorry, Parley, but you don’t count). Correction: people I love and FOOD! And if I can’t have one, I’ll certainly have the other. We’re fortunate enough to have great friends to visit in many parts of the state and country, and we spent the past weekend in Joplin with some wonderful people. Being in a house full of folks we love and miss had me spoiled. Here was my (edible) replacement for rowdy company last night:
SALLY’S SUMMER SALAD
Recipe poached from the lovely Sally Robinson
- small container Organic Girl greens of your choice
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 red onion, sliced into thin strips
- 1 bag ready-to-eat green beans, cut into thirds
- 1 bag ready-to-eat snap peas, cut in half
- 1 container Santa Sweets grape tomatoes, washed and halved
- 1 lemon, juiced (you’ll save some juice for the recipes below)
This was an as-best-I-can remember recreation of a delicious salad our friend Sally made Saturday night. When I told her I’d duped it, she mentioned that she’d also used feta, toasted slivered almonds, and garlic, salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of oil instead of a vinaigrette (recipe to follow). Each of those ingredients was incredibly tasty- I highly recommend adding any and all. All you need to do here is wash and cut the veggies as stated above and toss. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice for a bright, fresh taste, and to keep the avocado green in case you have leftovers.
Set salad aside, or meanwhile, make the following super-easy vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp-1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried herb of your choice (basil’s a good one)
- 1 tsp whole grain or Dijon mustard
- 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
Whisk together all ingredients except oil; then add oil in a steady stream while whisking to emulsify dressing. Taste and season accordingly. I have categorized this post as gluten-free; the salad if gf, but the crabcakes are not gluten-free unless made with gf breading.
CRAB CAKES MOUTARDE
- 1 12-oz container lump crab meat (found in the refrigerated section of the seafood counter)
- 1 tbsp light mayo
- 1 tsp whole grain or Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
- 1/2 tsp dried mustard
- 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- dash (or three) of cayenne
- dash celery seed, if you have some around
- 1 tsp lemon juice (save this from your vinaigrette)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
Moutarde was the surname I gave these basic crab cakes to make them extra-fancy. French does that (see: Grey Poupon and pommes frites). So does drinking wine. There is mustard in the sauce I made, so I guess the name is legit. Voila! So very fancy.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium low, and add oil. Mix all ingredients except crab and bread crumbs. I recommend whisking them so they’re well-combined. I wouldn’t over-salt these, as you want to taste the delicate crab, and can liven up the flavor after cooking with bright, fresh, lemon juice. Fold in the crab with a spoon; then fold in the breadcrumbs. Add more breadcrumbs if you like, but keep in mind that the egg will bind the ingredients and help them cook in a patty form.
Divide the mixture into quarters (about 3 tbsp each), and gently form into cakes with your hands. Add patties (also gently) to the hot oil, leaving space between each. They don’t have to be flat and wide to thoroughly cook, they can be tall. They’ll cook pretty quickly. Let cook about 3-4 minutes on the first side; make sure to monitor the cooking temperature so the bottoms don’t burn. Flip over with a spatula and cook an additional 2-4 minutes. You want both sides to be golden brown. The crab cakes will look so pretty and smell so good at this point!
Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, and let rest while you make your schmancy moutarde sauce:
- 1 more tsp coarse grain or Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp light mayo
- remaining lemon juice
Whisk all together. Plate your vinagrette-dressed salad, add crab cakes, spoon sauce on top. There! Being home alone isn’t so boring after all! Savor, finish your wine, and google some more French words in the sunroom as you watch the sun set. Enjoy.