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  • {Recipe Redux} Baked Crab Cakes With Lemony Yogurt Sauce

    Sunday, February 21, 2016

    gluten free oven baked crab cakes
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    Some things are worth waiting in line for. You know, like Michelangelo’s statue of David or a glimpse of the Mona Lisa…maybe even the line for a ride at Disney, if that’s your jam. One thing I’m *pretty* sure isn’t worth waiting in line for is brunch. This bold statement is outright heresy coming from a girl who lives in the land where people get out of bed on Sundays with the intention of spending half their morning waiting for  breakfast food. Seriously, it’s as though the population of the city doubles between the hours of (precisely) 9:45 and noon. Think I’m kidding? Watch this!

    (A lot of people call Portlandia satire. I call it a documentary. Trust me on this).

    Don’t get me wrong. I love brunch. I love going out for brunch. I wait in line. A lot. But there are times that I just can’t get myself together enough to brave the lines or weather for a pancake. No matter how magical it is (and, believe me, there are many magical brunch dishes to eat in this town).

    So, when this month’s Recipe Redux asked contributors to come up with breakfast and brunch ideas that are worth getting out of bed for (and healthy, too, of course), eggs Benedict immediately came to mind. It’s one of my favorite brunch choices. But, here’s the thing, because I can’t eat gluten, and I have a *thing* about hollandaise sauce (more on that later), I am rarely able to order it out–which is why I make it at home.

    gluten free crab cakes benedict

    One of may favorite homemade Benedicts is one that uses my recipe for quinoa salmon cakes, since I’d been there, done that, I decided a good old fashioned crab cake was in order. With a healthy twist, of course.

    These crab cakes are baked, which means two things. First, they are lower in fat and second, they are super easy to make a big batch of–no standing over a frying pan making a few at a time and keeping them warm in the oven–which makes them perfect for entertaining. This recipe is inspired by one of the best crab cakes I have ever had. They were at G & M Restaurant in Maryland and they were unlike any crab cake I’d ever had. Growing up in New England meant that there was no shortage of crab cakes, it just that they were always big on breadcrumbs and other fillers. The crab? Not so much. The thing that I loved about the G & M crab cake was that it seemed to be completely devoid of fillers. They were rich, buttery and decadent. I’m not entirely sure what they use for the binder in their cakes, but I know it wasn’t breadcrumbs.

    For this recipe, I did use a small amount of cornmeal to bring the mixture together. Though I’ve experimented with not using any filer, I just can’t seem to get them to stay together once cooked (this is particularly true of baked crab cakes). The cornmeal works great here. It provided just enough texture to hold everything together without taking the attention away from the crab. The addition of a sprinkle of cornmeal on the top provides a much-needed crunch to the finished dish (I’ve tried making these without the sprinkle of cornmeal and, for me, they just don’t have enough crunch or texture without it). While you’ll probably see a lot of crab cake recipes that call for eggs, I went with my favorite vegan mayonnaise (no saturated fat and it tastes about as close to the real thing as I’ve ever had). The addition of horseradish-laced mustard, a bit of tarragon and salt and white pepper, I’d call this a pretty unadulterated crab cake.

    gluten free crab cake benedict

    With my crab cake perfected, I set about making the lemony yogurt sauce, which has lots of flavor and just the right amount of citrus tang, all coming together to play nicely with the crab cakes. I used low fat yogurt, though I think full-fat might make the sauce a bit better (the added richness and slightly less tang would round all of the flavors out). If you’re using the sauce as part of my take on eggs Benedict, you could add a pinch of tumeric to mimic the look of hollandaise.

    Ok, so now let’s bring this all together to make crab cakes Benedict.

    But first, a little about my aversion to hollandaise sauce

    …which is likely deeply rooted in my early days of dieting. Back then butter and egg yolks were two of the most illicit ingredients one could cook with. Put them together in one dish? The horror! These days I pride myself on my fearless (albeit judicious) use of real butter, and I eat eggs several times a month without even a twinge of diet-induced guilt. But, for some reason, I just can’t embrace a sauce that is primarily comprised of egg yolks and melted butter. I know, I don’t know what I’m missing, but I’m totally OK sitting this one out. If you prefer to use your favorite hollandaise sauce, don’t let my irrational feelings toward one of the culinary world’s most revered sauces stop you!

    You’ll notice that I didn’t go the route of placing the crab cake and poached egg on an English muffin, as is standard with a Benedict. Since I need to eat gluten free (and I’m trying to get more veggies into my day), I decided to go with a bed of roasted asparagus (just toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for about 8 minutes, just until tender). Gently place a crab cake on the asparagus, top with a poached or fried egg, and drizzle with the sauce. How easy is that?

    roasted asparagus

    Tip: To save some time, make the crab cakes the night before. Simply reheat them in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

    {Recipe Redux} Baked Crab Cakes With Lemony Yogurt Sauce

    servings: 8 crab cakes | time: about 45 minutes

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    Preheat oven to 375

    For Crab Cakes: 

    1 lb. good quality cooked lump crab meat (NOT canned!)

    1 small shallot, minced

    4 TBSP. mayonnaise

    1 TBSP. horseradish mustard

    1/4 cup cornmeal (plus more for topping)

    2 tsp. dried tarragon (or 2 TBSP. chopped fresh)

    1/2 tsp. sea salt

    1/4 tsp. white pepper
    For Lemony Yogurt Sauce:

    1/4 cup low fat yogurt

    2 tsp. horseradish mustard

    juice of 1/4 lemon (about 1 TBSP)

    pinch each of salt and white pepper


    1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Drizzle lined pan with about 2 TBSP olive oil, spread oil to coat. Set aside

    To make the crab cakes:

    1. Place all of the crab cake ingredients in a large bowl and blend to combine well. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste
    2. Pour about 1/2 cup of cornmeal into a separate bowl and set aside. You’ll use this to sprinkle on the crab cakes before baking them
    3. Make the crab cakes by placing a portion in your hand that is enough to fill your palm (this will, of course, depend on the size of your hand, so aim for about 1/4 cup or so for each crab cake). Gently pat into a circle, about 3 inches wide by about 1 1/2  inches tall. Place on prepared pan and continue making the remaining crab cakes
    4. Brush each crab cake with a little olive oil. Sprinkle a bit of the corn meal on each crab cake; gently press to get the corn meal to stick
    5. GENTLY turn each crab cake over, brush with a little olive oil and sprinkle with corn meal
    6. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before plating (be gentle!)

    To make the lemony yogurt sauce:

    Place all of the yogurt sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk well to combine. Drizzle over crab cakes just before serving


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