Paleo Crab Cakes

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Paleo Crab Cakes credits to Scott Jones, Cocktail Sauce credits to my dad, and plate credits to Crow Canyon Home

Happy New Year and happy Crabby Patty season! Those dates around November – January are known in the Bay Area as Crab Season. Farmers Markets and local grocers are chock full of crab fresh from our bay. These little buggers are delicious just by themselves, but why not dress them up for a little fun? I love crab cakes, but in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I wanted to come up with a version that was Paleo-friendly and delicious. This recipe eliminates gluten and mayonnaise, leaving only fresh, healthy, and satisfying ingredients. The recipe and sauce are adapted versions of two family recipes: Dad’s cocktail sauce and bro-lo Scott’s Northwest Crab Cakes. Ready to get all healthy and crabby? Okay let’s go make Paleo Crab Cakes.

Crabs at the local Farmer's Market, thanks to From The Sea To You (fromthec2u.com)

Crabs at the local Farmer’s Market, thanks to From The Sea To You (www.fromthec2u.com)

Paleo Crab Cakes

This recipe is a version borrowed from my bro-lo (aka, brother in law, Scott) and adapted to be gluten-free. Because the original version is so incredibly delicious, I’ve also included bro-lo’s original recipe below (thanks, Scott). These little gems can be served in many ways. I’ve provided a few suggestions below to get more creative, but the recipe as written below is with my dad’s original and simple cocktail sauce.

Ingredients for Crab Cakes
Makes six medium sized crab cakes, serves 2
1 whole dungeness crab, pre-steamed, cleaned & cracked*
1 tsp stone ground mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbs green onions, chopped
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning (can be found at your local grocer)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp worchester sauce
1 large egg
salt & pepper
1/2 – 1 cup almond flour
1 tsp olive oil or butter
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp parsley, chopped, for garnish
lemon, for garnish
*ask your butcher – they do this for you!

Ingredients for Cocktail Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 lemon, juiced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp horseradish (to taste)
1/4 tsp worchester sauce
Directions: mix this stuff together. Ta-da

Optional ingredients for serving:
avocado
spinach, tossed in olive oil & vinegar
poached eggs
chardonnay (actually, not optional)

Start by cleaning out your crab meat. One entire dungeness crab should yield you about a pound of meat. Add all ingredients down to salt & pepper and mix with a fork. TASTE. It should taste like crab with hints of mustard, heat, and a little zing from the lemon.

Cracking crab can be easy without tools: have your butcher pre-crack the crab and use the claws to get hard-to-reach pieces of meat. Hand model: mom.

Cracking crab can be easy without tools: have your butcher pre-crack the crab and use the claws to get hard-to-reach pieces of meat. Hand model: mom.

Ingredients ready to be mixed together

Ingredients ready to be mixed together

Add about 1/2 the almond flour, mix, and continue to add until it becomes slightly course. You should be able to create a patty in your hand and have it hold together. Too little almond flour and it will be too liquid-y. Too much almond flour and it’ll fall apart in your hands.

All ingredients mixed together plus the almond flour. Add until it starts to look

All ingredients mixed together plus the almond flour. Add until it becomes slightly course and you can smooth it together to create a patty

Now, create some patties! This recipe yields about six 2-inch diameter patties. At this point, you can refrigerate and keep for one day until cooking.

Crabby patties all ready to go! Plate by Crow Canyon Home.

Crabby patties all ready to go! Plate by Crow Canyon Home.

In a saute pan over medium-high heat, heat up olive oil or butter. Pat both sides of the patties with rice flour. The easiest way to do this is to put the rice flower on a small plate and press both sides of the patties to it. Immediately fry the patties for about 3 minutes on each side. They should be golden brown and crispy.

I'm crispy!

I’m crispy! AND golden brown!

I'm saucy!

I’m saucy!

Serve these little buggers with the simple cocktail sauce, chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon. These can also be dolled up as an excuse for breakfast by adding poached eggs or justified as being super healthy by serving over a fresh salad. But please, whatever you do, enjoy your crab season and enjoy your new year, new you, and New Year’s resolutions!

Paleo Crab Cakes over spinach (tossed with olive oil and lemon juice) and topped with poached eggs

Paleo Crab Cakes over spinach (tossed with olive oil and lemon juice) and topped with poached eggs

Scott’s original Northwest Crab Cakes
2 whole dungeness – I’m not sure what this equates to in lump meat, but I usually figure about 3 cups of meat per crab.  And don’t use lump meat, it’s expensive, and is usually freeze-thawed too many times
3 egg whites
1/4 red onion
1/2 jalapeno
1/4 green pepper
1/4 orange pepper – use whatever color peppers you want, this isn’t a racist recipe, I just like the green and orange because they make the cakes look pretty
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 lime
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tbsp light mayo
1 tbsp brown or spicy mustard – I like the beaver brand, because it’s good, and because it’s called beaver.
1 tsp old bay seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder – I also sometimes use minced garlic, but that can sometimes get chunky and overwhelm the flavor
A pinch of black pepper, salt and cumin, and then any additional seasoning you want to add, but I’ve found the old bay and garlic powder to be plenty
Shell the crab.  Don’t worry about the size of the chunks, but be diligent in keeping shells out.Dice all the veggies, til they’re about the size of your pinky nail.  Do the jalapeno a little smaller. Chop the cilantro.  Use as much as you want.  I love cilantro, so I’ll usually add about 1/3 cup, but some people like less. Mix the crab meat, diced veggies, cilantro, juice from half a lime, mayo/mustard, seasoning and ½ cup bread crumbs.  BE SURE to not use too many, as too many can cause the cakes to not stick, and be too mealy. Turn the egg whites in to the mixture.  Make sure to get it good and mixed, but try not to destroy the fiber of the crab meat too much. Throw the whole damn thing in the fridge for an hour or so. Go for a run. Put the rest of the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan or skillet over med-high.  I’ve tried cast-iron, but I really think the all-clad works best. Hand form the cakes.  Make sure to squeeze them, and drain some of the moisture out.  If they’re too moist, they’ll fall apart when you cook them. Bread both sides of the cakes with the bread crumbs, then set them in the pan. Cook both sides until golden brown.  Usually 4-5 minutes per side??  But it’s different each time. Favorite sauces are the simple hollandaise with lemon, sriracha and tartar or ginger peanut.  I’ve made some pretty wild sauces, and they’re always awesome. Drink lots of wine and whisky.

Adobo Chicken Tortilla Soup

Adobo Chicken Tortilla Soup: Yummy, Filling, Crowd-Pleasing, and oh-so-easy. Plate by Crow Canyon Home

Adobo Chicken Tortilla Soup: Yummy, Filling, Crowd-Pleasing, and oh-so-easy. Plate by Crow Canyon Home

Happy almost-right-before-Thanksgiving Day! For those of you who might be throwing Thanksgiving or having family visitors, you’re dealing with a dilemma. You’re focused on all the Turkey Day cooking and, OHCRAP, you have people to feed even before that big cooking day comes! Never mind that you’re planning Thanksgiving for your vegetarian/omnivore/gluten-free/lactose intolerant/low fat/paleo/frutarian/dessertarian friends, you ALSO have to think about how to feed them in the days BEFORE Thanksgiving! What to do!? 

Not to worry – I’ve created an easy, crowd pleasing, low-maintenance, and delicious soup that’s easy to modify to different dietary needs. It’s also a complete meal that doesn’t take up much high-valued real estate in your fridge, can be pre-made and reheated in a snap. What more could you ask for in a pre-Thanksgiving, in-law feeding meal?! Excited? Me too…on to the recipe!

Main ingredients for Chicken Adobo Tortilla Soup

Main ingredients for Chicken Adobo Tortilla Soup

Adobo Chicken Tortilla Soup

This recipe is an easy and delicious soup recipe that is a complete meal on its own and can be modified to dietary needs. Below I’ve flexed my Finance talents to create a chart for dietary adjustments and included instructions on how to roast your own chicken.

You can pick any version of the recipe depending on your family’s dietary needs. You can also opt to leave certain ingredients out and allow people to add at the end. For example, I’m Paleo, so I left out the corn and beans and left a little bowl of them for my family to add later. The directions below have steps that are coded by which version you use (E) Easy, (P) Paleo/Gluten Free, (V) Vegegarian, (A) All. It sounds complicated, but it’s not! Pick a letter and just focus on ingredients and steps with that letter. It’s sort of like a nerdy “Choose Your Own Adventure” cooking lesson.
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See above photo for adobo sauce. Find it in the Hispanic cooking section of your grocery store. It can be found in a can by itself, but you’re looking for the chipotle peppers that are in adobo sauce. 
DSC_0033Roasting Chicken (A)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Roasting chicken is relatively easy and incredibly tasty. First start by washing the chicken, removing giblets (if there are any, they’re inside the cavity) and wash/pat dry.  Separate the breast skin from the chicken using your hands to gently remove without breaking skin. WASH HANDS.

Separate the breast from the chicken using your fingers. Do this so you can put sauces & seasoning directly on the breast. It keeps it moist and gives it extra flavor.

Separate the breast from the chicken using your fingers. Do this so you can put sauces & seasoning directly on the breast. It keeps it moist and gives it extra flavor.

Zest limes, set aside. Mix together juice of two limes and adobo sauce. Salt & Pepper & olive oil inside and outside of chicken generously. Rub chicken with lime/adobo sauce and make sure to also get it under the breast skin. Stuff cavity with onion and the limes.  Sprinkle chicken with lime zest. WASH HANDS. Tie chicken legs together with cooking twine. WASH HANDS.

Rubbed, stuffed, and ready to roast!

Rubbed, stuffed, tied up, and ready to roast!

Place chicken on a roasting rack and roast in 350 degrees breast down (see photo) for about 45 minutes. WASH HANDS. The reason you start breast down is to let all those juices and flavors to melt down into the breast.

Chicken breast down

Chicken breast down

Increase heat to 400 degrees, flip chicken to breast up (see photo) drizzle additional olive oil on chicken (WASH HANDS!), and roast for another 30 minutes or until you pierce the leg and juices come out clear. The reason you end at a higher temp and breast up is to get that pretty crust on the top of the chicken.

Breasts up!

Breasts up!

Deglaze the pan with either wine (P) or beer (E, V, A). Deglazing just means adding the alcohol to the bottom of the pan. It will boil up and you can scrape up the bits of cooked chicken off the bottom of the pan. Place this juice in a separate container, cool, skim off fat. This juice is delicious and full of flavor. We’ll add it to the soup later.

Set aside chicken to cool slightly, then shred chicken meat with your hands.  Easy!

Prep Pre-Made Chicken (E, P)
Mix together adobo, juice of two limes, adobo sauce, mix in with shredded chicken, add salt & pepper to taste.

Roast tomatillos (V, A)
Roast butternut squash (P, V, A)
Instructions are the same for both roasting tomatillos and butternut squash. They can even be roasted together. Once outer layer is peeled from tomatillos and butternut squash is cubed, mix with 1 tbs olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Put in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until browned.

I'm not roasted yet!

I’m not roasted yet

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I’m roasty and delicious!

I'm not roasted yet

I’m not roasted yet

I'm roasty and delicious!

I’m roasty and delicious!

Prepare Soup Base (E, P, V, A)
In a large soup pot or cast iron pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add celery for 2 minutes, add garlic and chipotle peppers in their sauce. Cook together until onions are brown, about 3 more minutes.
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Deglaze Pan with beer (E, V, A)
Deglaze Pan with wine (P)
Add beer or wine, let boil while you scrape up bits of veggies from the bottom of the pan.

Deglazing with wine (P), or beer (E, V, A)

Deglazing with wine (P), or beer (E, V, A)

Add Remaining Soup Base Ingredients (E, P, V, A)
Here’s where it gets really easy. Add all remaining soup base ingredients for your selected E, P, V, A needs. Again, if you’re cooking for a certain dietary or food preference need (i.e. hates olives or doesn’t eat beans), leave those aside for people to add later. Bring everything to a boil and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Soup is best the next day, so this is great for planning ahead. This soup can stay in the fridge like this for about 1 week or in the freezer for three months.

Make Avocado Spread (E, V, A) 
This soup can be spicy, so an avocado spread adds a cooling topping when you’re ready to eat the soup. Simply add avocado, zest of 1 lime, and 3 tbs of Greek yogurt in a bowl and mash together until smooth. If you have a Paleo friend or a vegetarian who doesn’t eat yogurt, you can simply top the soup with chopped avocado.
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Heat, top and serve!

Heat soup before preparation and set out tortilla chips (E, V, A), avocado spread (E, V, A) (or chopped avocado for P), shredded cheese (E, V, A), and cilantro (E, P, V, A) for topping. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a tasty, complete meal with your friends and family!

Homemade Adobo Chicken Tortilla Soup. Plate: Crow Canyon Home

Homemade Adobo Chicken Tortilla Soup. Plate: Crow Canyon Home

Special thanks to my sous chef and lighting specialist, Simon and his pup and floor warmer, Beija

Special thanks to my sous chef and lighting specialist, Simon and his pup and floor warmer, Beija