I’m not sure if this recipe exists in one of the many James Beard cookbooks. If I did, I would definitely list the source here. I actually came across this delightfully simple casserole/dip in the Paula Peck stack of unpublished recipes. Since I will usually make any crab recipe I happen to come across, Jim Beard’s Deviled Crab was an obvious must try.
At first glance, I wasn’t really sure what this recipe was. Is it a casserole? A dip? A side dish? I’m still not quite sure. So I’ve decided it can be any one of those things and more, because it’s just that good. One simple description says it all – deconstructed crab cake. Think your favorite part about a crab cake but amplified. Easier to make and the emphasis is on the crab, the real star of the show (and not the often overused mushy breadcrumbs).
Though I’m sure Paula Peck and James Beard exchanged numerous recipes over the years that they cooked and shopped for ingredients together, I wish I knew more about where this recipe came from. I can definitely see similarities in their cooking and it makes me wonder if this was served at one of their many fabulous dinner parties…
Wherever it came from, I’m glad I discovered it and I think you will be too.
1 lb crab meat
1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pick over crab meat and remove any cartilage. Roll or crush crackers and measure correct amount. Preheat oven 350 degrees and butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole or 6-8 individual crab or seashells.
Mix crab meat, crumbs, chopped vegetables, all seasonings, melted butter, and heavy cream together thoroughly. Spoon into casserole or shells and dot the top with a little additional butter. Bake 30-40 minutes or bake individual shells 20 minutes. Serve hot with crudités or crackers.
Paula Peck and Chinese food may not seem like they go together. Though she wrote a cookbook full of international recipes, she’s usually associated with croissants or lovely baked treats and not the inexpensive take-out dinner, complete with MSG (though she did go through a phase of excessive MSG use in the mid 60’s). Surprisingly, she has a fair number of Asian inspired dishes. Her recipes span from Korean Meat and Oriental Chicken Kebabs from “The Art of Good Cooking,” to Sushi and this lovely quick shrimp saute or Chinese Style Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce, that remain unpublished since she was preparing for a new book.
I’m not entirely comfortable improvising with Asian ingredients but I’m always surprised at how quick and easy many of the recipes are. The fermented black bean sauce is not as scary as you may think. It’s a basic sauce made up of fermented and salted black soy beans, garlic, rice wine, and salt and can usually be found in the international foods aisle at your grocery store. You could also try making your own sauce from fermented black beans, but the theme of this meal is quick! Combined with the cornstarch mixture (which Paula Peck notes will keep the shrimp moist and succulent during cooking), the sauce coats the shrimp so that the garlic bean flavor can be enjoyed with every bite. Serve alone or create a balanced meal with brown rice and a side of steamed broccoli.
1 1/2 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveigned
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 large egg white
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon fermented black bean sauce (located near the soy sauce in the international foods section at the grocery store)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons sherry (mirin/japanese rice wine may be substituted)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (amount will depend on the amount of sodium in the black bean sauce)
3 scallions cut in 1 inch pieces
Combine shrimp with cornstarch and egg white. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add black beans, garlic, ginger, and half the green onions. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly. Add shrimp. Cook stirring constantly for just a few minutes or until shrimp become opaque. Stir in sherry and soy sauce. Stir only until sauce is thickened. Sprinkle with remaining scallions.
A hearty protein filled salad that promises to keep you full. Red bean and Sausage Salad is an unpublished Paula Peck recipe that includes just the right combo of fat and acidity to make it an antipasto like satisfying addition to any meal or greens.
Though the recipe recommends salami, any cured sausage may be used. I happened to have an Olli salami on hand which is part of a high end artisinal salami line made using old fashioned family recipes (how appropriate!). This recipe is flexible and the sweet pickles and kidney beans provide the right balance to work well with just about any variation of sausage or greens.
2 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 lb salami or other cooked sausage, sliced
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet pickles
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 tomato diced or a handful of grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon or spicy mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl. Allow to stand while you make dressing. Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a container with a lid. Close container and make sure it is well sealed. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds to blend and thicken. Pour over salad and season to taste. Serve on spinach or other fresh greens.
If you’re a clam lover, this dish will make your mouth water. A new England classic and a combination of three different unpublished recipes by my grandmother, Paula Peck: veloute, linguine in white clam sauce, and white wine sauce. I’ve combined them into one easier to follow recipe minus the heavy cream. A hodge-podge that becomes a garlicky semi-creamy sauce with a tang of sweet and sour citrus clam flavor. Exactly what you want in a white clam sauce.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups stock (fish or chicken)
2 shallots, chopped
1 1/2 cups white wine
¾ cup milk
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
16-18 cherrystone clams, scrubbed
1lb cooked linguine
½ cup chopped parsley
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in flour, using a wire whisk. Slowly whisk in 1 ½ cups stock. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.
Combine shallot, remaining stock, and white wine in a large skillet over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Add milk and lemon juice. Heat through. Whisk white wine sauce into butter flour stock mixture. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
In the same large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add sauce and clams. Simmer until clams open. Stir in cooked linguine and chopped parsley. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan and lemon slices.
There’s usually no rhyme or reason for how I decide which of my grandmother’s hundreds of recipes to make. This creamy cool soup happened to sound particularly appealing on a recent day when the temperature climbed to almost 80 and my mind went into summer mode, no matter how hard I tried to reason with it. Summer mode for me usually means consuming a ridiculous amount of ice cream (some of which I can blame on my regular full time job) and pulling out my ice cream maker to tackle some absurdly unhealthy recipe that usually includes chocolate and a combo of too many things that taste good with it. Since it is still too early for summer mode, I managed to convince myself to make something healthier yet equally rich and satisfying. This cold soup does the trick.
The base of this recipe comes from the stack of unpublished Paula Peck recipes I inherited and cherish. These faded typewriter written recipes with handwritten edits, are always the most fun for me to test because the recipes are rough and yet to be finalized. Some, like this avocado soup recipe, have a couple of different versions with varying measurements and instructions. One of these came with a note that said “This is a truly delicious summer soup. My friend Togi told me about it after she tasted it in Mexico.” I find it pretty impressive (and progressive) that my grandmother was making cold avocado soup in the late 1960’s when avocados were still considered somewhat exotic – and not found at every deli or sidewalk produce vendor in NYC like they are today. It’s a very simple recipe and I made only a few minor adjustments like adding scallion, cumin, lemon juice, cayenne, and the garnish of sour cream, corn, and salsa or chopped tomato.
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
4 1/2 – 5 cups diced ripe avocado
1-1 1/2 cups half and half
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
optional garnish: sour cream, cooked corn kernels, and/or pico de gallo salsa
In a heavy pot, melt butter. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon. Cook, constantly stirring, for about 5 minutes (do not brown). Stir in stock. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook just until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and cool.
Place 3 1/2 – 4 cups avocado and scallion in a blender. Add about 1 cup of the stock mixture. Blend until smooth. Add avocado mixture to remaining stock mixture. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Add half and half. Chill.
To serve: pour into bowls and garnish with remaining avocado cubes, sour cream, corn, and salsa (if using).