Friday, March 22, 2013

Warm Crab Dip is Always a Hit

I love having friends over, but with everyone's crazy schedules, it's sometimes hard to make plans where everyone is free.  A few months ago, I began planning spur of the moment next day dinners or just afternoon cocktails and appetizers.  I text a few friends to see if they are available for a next day get together, and the majority of times, it has worked out rather well.  

A favorite among my friends has been a warm crab dip.  I found the recipe in a magazine I was thumbing through a couple of months ago at the hairdresser.  Jack told me I could take the recipe as long as I made him a copy. (I did).  

As usual, I have adapted the recipe slightly to be a little more calorie friendly. I substituted light cream for the heavy cream, and used light cream cheese.   I prepare the baguettes several hours ahead of time which make preparation of the dip itself fairly quick and easy to whip together. 

The original recipe comes from New Orleans restauranteur Ralph Brennan and is actually called... 

Creole Crab Dip

3 shallots peeled and chopped
5 tablespoons butter divided (I use 3 tablespoons)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I use light cream or 1/2 & 1/2)
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
11 oz cream cheese - I use a 12 oz tub of light cream cheese
1/3 cup chopped scallions
salt and ground pepper (I omit salt)
1 pound crabmeat (I used canned if fresh is not available)
2 oz goat cheese (I don't like goat cheese so I use apple smoked gruyere)
2 dozen baguette slices

I begin with the baguettes.  I buy either a regular french baguette, or if I am near a Panera Bread, I sometimes buy a couple of their small loaves of asiago cheese, three cheese or multi-grain baguettes and have them slice them for me.  The original recipe calls for using some of the 'divided butter', but my hairdresser Jack gave me a better tip.  I put a single layer on a cookie sheet, spray them with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter then sprinkle a little sea salt on them.  I then place them, buttered side down on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I then spray the other side, sprinkle a little sea salt on that side and bake for about 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.  I then turn off the oven, put on the broiler and broil just long enough to lightly brown the top.  Let cool and arrange in a dish or put in a bread basket.

For the dip, heat butter on medium low heat and sauté the shallots until tender.  Add the cream and reduce by two thirds.  Add the mascarpone cheese and approximately 3 oz of the cream cheese (I don't measure, I just use a dollop).  Stir to blend into the cream and onion mixture.  Add the rest of the cream cheese and blend until thickened.  Lower heat to low and stir in scallions. Turn off heat.  Add the crabmeat and transfer to a 1 1/2 qt baking dish or several smaller dishes or ramekins.  Instead of the goat cheese, I shred the apple smoked gruyere over the top of the dishes and then broil until the cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately with the bread (or fresh veggie sticks if you wish).

Bon Appetit!

So what do you think?  Will this be one of your new favorites?  I'd love to hear your reviews!  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Going to Foxwoods, (well actually the Pequot Museum)

I love field trips.  I have chaperoned my sons' field trips since pre-school and we always have a great time.  I have been involved with the PTO, so most of the kids know me by sight, but chaperoning gives me an opportunity to get to know some of them better.  I admit I was a little nervous however with a group of 9 pre-teens.  The kids today are growing up so fast and 5th graders today seem like the 8th graders when I was young.  And my son is very naive, socially, behind his peers a bit which I attribute a lot to the autism.  My plan was to stick with the teacher's group and pretty much keep the class together.

Upon entering the Pequot Museum in Ledyard, CT at Foxwoods, we toured the replica village.  Our guide was the great, great granddaughter of Elizabeth George.  Elizabeth George was instrumental in getting the Meshantucket Pequots back together to live on the reservation in Connecticut.  The Pequot tribe which had flourished, lost 80% of their tribe to disease when the English came to America, then were massacred during a two year war with the settlers.  The class had learned a little about this before visiting the museum and interacted well with the guide.  

We met in the gathering hall for lunch and my group began their requests for our afternoon itinerary!  Everyone wanted to go up in the tower, where an elevator took us way up, overlooking the impressive Foxwood Casino.  

We took some group photos, did a little shopping at the gift shop and visited several more of the exhibits.  I was pleasantly surprised at how interested they were in watching some of the short documentaries housed within the exhibits and we even came across one featuring the story of Elizabeth George.  

We went through 'Glacier cave' and visited the exhibit of how the indians hunted and survived during the winters,

made another quick trip up to the tower then back to the gathering hall to meet the rest of the group and go home.  The kids were very well behaved, curious, interactive and we had a lot of fun.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dinner & A Play

The Ocean State Theater is a small theater in Warwick, RI.  My friend's nephew had an ensemble part in their production of Rent and last week, a group of us went out to dinner, then to the show.

The martini of choice was a French Martini with champagne.  The restaurant, Iron Works Tavern came highly recommended and the food was delicious, however 4 of the 6 orders (all for the chicken special of the night) were wrong.  They offered to fix it but we had time restrictions and ate what they sent.  It was very good, but not what we ordered.  The French Martini's were wonderful!

The Ocean State Theater Company did a spectacular job with their production of Rent.  The entire cast was outstanding, but the highlight of my night was watching my friend's nephew, Andrew, on stage.  I cheated and took a few photos with my iPhone!

I hate to admit it, but Rent is one of my least favorite shows.  I saw it many years ago in an Off Broadway production and did not like it very much.  I like happy shows and happy movies, and Rent was quite frankly a bit depressing for me, but I do have to say this cast was tremendous.  The music was fantastic and it was such a joy to see Andrew performing and following his dream to land a role in a Broadway show!

So I wonder, being that Rent is so highly acclaimed, am I the only person who doesn't care too much for this show?  What kind of plays do you prefer when you go to the theater?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Elusive Red Friend

We have a pair of cardinals that regularly visit in the yard, but they are very skittish and difficult to photograph.  I'm certain it must be the city environment because although I put out feeders, have a bird bath, small pond and some bird friendly plants, the occasional cats prowl around my yard (until I hit them with a strong blast of the hose), and the birds aren't too fond of them.   

The latest storm system which buried many areas with a deep blanket of heavy snow, only gave us an inch or so here, but it was enough for me to get a good view of my elusive red friend who just couldn't hide against the freshly fallen white snow.

And although he flew off as soon as realized I was on the deck, it always puts a smile on my face when I see these beautiful birds.