Crab is definitely a local favorite at every stage in seasonal development along the southeast coast. Port Royal, SC will host its Soft Shell Crab Festival next week (check out the winners from 2011); thus, it seemed appropriate to bring a crab dish to the kitchen in anticipation of the event. Though it seems rather simple to tackle a sauteed version of soft shell I'm simply not willing to release my memory of Chef Richard Wilson of Maggie's Pub's version (pictured) to reality. I do however appreciate the wide variety of seafood recipes that our region boasts. What I have in mind is something using lump crab meat that might net the same affection as the shrimp pies from White's Seafood Company on St Helena Island. I find a lovely recipe for a Crab and Saffron Tart by Nigella Lawson (a favorite of mine as you know). This recipe was located in my 2007 copy of How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food ($9.99 ebook price!) This recipe freezes very nicely for enjoyment in later meals, that quotient when cooking is a big plus in our household as many times what is prepared exceeds the sitting in which is consumed. There was a period when I held a very different mindset about leftovers and like life thank goodness we evolve by circumstance, awareness and purpose. It's not a hard rule, but if it can revived to its original delivery the recipe gets applause for a repeat in the kitchen.
Most of us plan forward for our travel, visitation and meal time activities. Many times that includes what should be carried "in hand" as tribute for our hosts along the way. I notoriously always indicate to my guests the best gift anyone can provide is themselves first (by visiting and being present) followed immediately by a culinary product from their region. Sometimes it's a unique beverage like a boutique wine or locale craft beer, other times it's a food product unique to their region of the country and then sometimes it's a special meal compliments of the guest (prepared and cooked in house or consumed out at a favorite restaurant). I tend to elect for the later myself. That is, the preparing something in house. I personally make the process of "in house" a grand affair so that the host and home occupants get in on the action. That "action" includes the menu planning, grocery shopping, time in the kitchen, service at the table, lingering conversations after the meal, and of course the dish washing. I think it's a carry over from a time period in my life when money was not plentiful and I found myself on the road traveling the coast visiting friends with nothing but my wit and ability to cook to compensate them for their generosity. This week my 84 year old father, as many of you will recall "the avid fisherman," brought fresh water trout. Not just any ole trout. Rainbow trout from Little Wilbur Lake, a TVA reservoir (Tennessee Valley Authority for those not familiar). I can attest that the water is very cold and clear and stocked regularly with rainbow trout, which explains my father's enthusiasm in presenting me with seven foil wrapped beauties (his creel limit for the day, two days prior to his visit). If I were to prepare to my father's palate these fish would have been pan fried with flour, but in my continuing effort to introduce him to alternative preparations I opted for the whole fish/coarse salt version I've featured previously in this blog. It's an easy prep, 30 minutes in the oven, simply service and your done kind of recipe and for the occasion fit quite nicely when feeding an elder parent who insists on prompt delivery of his meals (which becomes precarious when eating out as prompt can mean immediate some days). I made Alton Brown's Raymond Beurre Blanc to accompany the fish, but had to make sure a bottle of ketchup made it's way to the table as well. As some of you know my dad's palate requires smothering his fish in the red sauce (hey he's 84 and I'm not going to push my luck after detouring him away from fried). Fish from home, time with my dad, and memories made to order.
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