Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crab -- Bait to Plate . . .

We're still not done with that gorgeous chinook salmon my brother brought to last weekend's family gathering.  After the leftovers were stripped of meat for the fishcakes, there was still head, skeleton, and odds 'n ends to bait the crab trap. Paul recently got a licence, renewed the rope and buoy for a trap we've had stored for ten or more years. The fish bits were the last piece in the puzzle . . .
He paddled out to where our beach rocks drop off sharply, less than 200 metres from the house. Dropped the trap after dinner Monday night, checked it on Tuesday mid-morning to find the salmon bits completely gone, and eight crabs stuck inside -- four of those were keepers.

Here they are cleaned up, cooked, and ready for cracking -- getting the meat out is a messy business -- and potentially tedious, but not if you're eagerly anticipating the meal to come.
Meanwhile, I'd headed out to the garden where the volunteer squash plants (grown from seeds in the compost mulch spread over one of the beds) were flowering huge golden trumpets. I grabbed four of these for a little experiment . . .

cleaned them and then stuffed them with a mixture of soft goat cheese loosened with a bit of cream and flavoured with some finely chopped rosemary (had to take the scissors back out to the garden to snip this). Then I Googled 'round to find some recipes for a light batter. No recipes came in the small batch I needed, but I played a bit with the inspirations I picked up -- I added a tablespoon or so of mayonnaise (mayo often works as a substitute for eggs -- I thought a large egg would be too much for the amount of flour I was using) to 1/2 cup of flour and worked it in with a fork, then poured in enough beer (could have been stale, but I had to open a new can -- no worries, I didn't mind finishing it ;-) ) to make a workable batter.  Seasoned it with salt and pepper, then just bathed the stuffed squash blossoms and moved them into a cast iron skillet of hot olive oil.
Garden to plate, these took less than ten minutes, and would make quite a decent appy. I'd also serve them solo if I had people in for a glass of wine or a beer. The delicate, green flavour of a the youngest possible squash, the novelty of cooking and eating a flower, plus the yumminess of an oozy filling makes these a treat.
And they had the added benefit of fuelling Paul up to carry on with his crab preparations, with this happy result: Linguine and crab -- a light cream-wine sauce (he claims it's quite light, that while there is cream, he relied more on cornstarch for thickening) full of red pepper (finely chopped) and crab. Don't the snow peas complement the dish beautifully?
Any favourite summer meals to share? I'm not sure why I've been on this food kick recently -- perhaps because it's such an immediate and joyful celebration of the aesthetic, sensory pleasures of daily life. For me, those peak in late summer, and they're the more precious for being on the wane even as they're at their most glorious. I know there are wonderful riches to come with the autumn months and then, after that, the winter, but as summer turns, I'm always most conscious that this particular summer will soon be gone forever. No wonder, then, that I want to squeeze as much from it as I can. And if that happens through food, well, here I am, sharing with you . . . Share back? I'd love to hear what simple summer pleasures you're savouring.


  1. What an amazing meal! Why could you only keep some of the crabs? Were some of them not good?

    While we were away we ate tons of flowers - they like eating the flowers in amsterdam. Some were even fried. Many tasted like chiles, strangely, though they looked all delicate.

    I was just saying to Scott last night - when crazily we had a dinner party, half jet lagged - that this is the easiest time of year to eat. I had some ripe peaches and raspberries and threw together a crumble in 20 minutes that was totally delish. (It helped that I had recently purchased some buttery, handmade lavender oat biscuits at the farmer's market, to assist with the topping crunch.)

  2. I am enjoying these foodie posts.
    The sea offers such a great variety of tasty treats, and how fortunate that they are right at your doorstep.

    I saw Jamie Oliver batter and fry zucchini blossoms but have never tried it myself...yours look amazing.

    We have a scallop appie which I should post that calls for 1/4 cup of beer and someone has to drink the rest!

    It's cloudy here this morning but it looks like it is going to burn off later...hope it is a nice day on your island.

  3. Never too much food sharing for me! I've been lazy on the food front recently, partly because I'm so busy I feel like I don't have the 'space' in my head to think about new or interesting dishes. And I think also partly because I want to start cooking lighter, more summery food, rather than the hearty winter fare we've been having.

    As for your crab linguine - how divine! And I love stuffed zucchini flowers ...

  4. While not as ambitious as your meal of self caught crabs and the glorious squash blossoms, our al fresco meal du
    jour will be a simple one......local haddock, grilled with pesto sauce, fresh corn on the cob and heirloom tomatoes from the neighboring farm! At this time of year, I feel obligated to eat lots of corn and tomatoes !!!!!!

  5. I'm still dreaming of the fish cakes and now there's crab? Sigh.

    As new vegans (a health choice for Martin, solidarity choice for me), we're not eating meat, dairy, fish, or eggs, so I'm afraid our meals are not as exciting. I cheat here and there when socializing, especially when Martin's away, but I'm mainly trying to stick to vegan for the weight loss benefits. The most flavorful dishes we make are vegetable curries with lentils, yellow split peas and various varieties of beans. Another favorite savory dish is wild rice stuffed portabellos with fresh sliced tomatoes baked to perfection. Good stuff, but not as good as fish cakes or fresh crab!

  6. K: I can't believe you had a dinner party while under the influence of jet lag!
    Dungeness crabs have to be 165 millimeters across to keep -- it's a conservation thing. -- and absolutely, the simplest is the best, in summer at least. Your crumble sounds like the essence of the season, mmmm
    Hostess: I know you have many summer foodie treats, especially ones that suit your idyllic life on the boat. Do share the scallop appie!
    Tiffany: You continually amaze me with your foodie energy and innovation, but I can imagine that the new job will have sapped some of that. I have a secret weapon in the form of a retired husband who loves to cook.

  7. Pavlova: Oh, that meal sounds exactly like what I'm talking about -- we've never tried grilling fish w. pesto -- do you coat it before putting it on the grill? And yes, tomatoes and corn, that might be the ultimate late-summer combo!
    Susan: I wish we did veg. more than we do. I try, but it's not Paul's natural inclination. I'd love to hear some of your fave lentil recipes. and those stuffed portabellos sound great!
    Lisa: Nom, exactly!


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