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Blue Crab Summertime Blues Road Show

This post was originally posted on John's previous blog site on on July 16th, 2013.

My apologies for the disappearing act, but it’s been a hectic graduation and wedding season at Gertrude’s and I have gotten way behind with the blog. Things are calming down a bit so I’m back on the road for more Chesapeake adventures.

After spending many years proclaiming the glories of Chesapeake cuisine, every summer I am contacted by local news stations, newspapers and magazines to give my opinion on that particular season’s crab population and asked for my favorite crab recipes.

I also am involved with a number of crab festivals and benefits which feature crab as their focus. I refer to this time of year as my “blue crab road show.”

This year the show got off to a rough start as our local crustaceans were quite slow in getting themselves up and swimming. The bay water temperature took much longer to warm this year due a cooler than normal spring. I guess it’s like us in the winter, we tend to stay in bed a little longer in the cold, keeping wrapped up in our toasty blankets. The crabs are likeminded, staying burrowed in the sand until the warmth calls them out.

According to my friends in the crabbing business, this situation resulted in much lower than usual catches and smaller crabs. I don’t know if you’ve been out shopping for local crab as of late, but if you have, I’m sure there was some sticker shock. A second mortgage, or generous trust fund, would be helpful in funding a crab cake dinner for your family and friends.

Fortunately our farmers and their crops are in pretty good shape this year. And that is good news for cooks. We can pair the flavorful (and healthy) grains, legumes and fresh veggies (and some fruit as well) with the, oh so precious crab meat. One of my favorite summertime appetizers is bruschetta, made with perfectly ripened tomatoes. Here is a recipe teaming roasted sweet corn, tomatoes, basil and lump crabmeat. It uses just a touch of balsamic vinegar to give a bite, and a little sweetness. The original recipe calls for diced fresh mozzarella, which is lovely, but totally optional.

Lump Crab & Roasted Corn Bruschetta

1 ½ pounds ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup finely diced fresh mozzarella (optional)

2 to 3 ears roasted or grilled corn (see note), kernels cut from cob

Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells

1 baguette

Olive oil for brushing

In a mixing bowl combine the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, and vinegar. Fold in the mozzarella, if using, and the kernels of roasted corn. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Carefully fold in the crabmeat, taking care not to break up the lumps.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Slice the baguette on a diagonal, about ½-inch thick. Lightly brush each side of the baguette pieces with the ¼ cup of olive oil. Place bread pieces on a sheet tray and bake for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the baguette pieces are just lightly browned.

Place the toasted bread on a serving tray and top each piece with a heaping tablespoon, or so, of the tomato/corn/crab mixture. Serve at once.

Note: To roast corn, place the un-husked corn into a preheated 400 degree oven, directly on the rack. Roast for about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool. Husk the corn, and when ready to use, cut the kernels from the cob.

To char corn, husk the ears of corn, and place over a medium gas flame on the stovetop burner. With tongs, keep turning the corn, allowing it to just barely “char” evenly around the cob, about 5 minutes cooking time. Cut kernels from the cob.


- John

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