FRIDAY FISH: Cheesy Crab Spread

Both my mother-in-law, Lorna Morgan, and my good friends Sue Hall and Audie Dunham are known to occasionally have popcorn and wine for dinner. After all, why not? Popcorn is healthy and full of fiber; wine is made from fruit, isn’t it? (Wink, wink.) There’s no reason we can’t swap in snacks or appetizers for meals once in a while, but if you’re really hesitant, I’ll write you a note. The last Friday Fish of the season, Cheesy Crab Spread, is one of those dishes typically served before a meal (and it is an easy starter), but that also totally works instead of a meal —particularly if you serve it with some raw veggies along with some whole grain chips or crackers. Great on a day when there’s no time to cook or on a hot day when even the stove refuses to work. It mostly whirrs together in the food processor in just a minute or two (use an electric mixer or a wooden spoon if you like) and before you’ve poured your wine, dinner is ready to go. It’s also perfect to take to an Easter potluck or the first picnic of the year because it’s made ahead and travels well. Is it just me or is it always hard to think of an appetizer? Keep this one in your back pocket and you’ll know just where to look when you need one.

Jump to Recipe

My fun, light and lemony appetizer (or meal) is so simple to make it doesn’t need photos, but I’ve put some in just for grins and giggles so you can scroll through before you try this:

FRIDAY FISH: Cheesy Crab Spread

This spread – which could easily become a dip by adding more liquid (sour cream/lemon juice to taste) – is quickly adapted to suit your tastes or available ingredients. Soft butter, mayonnaise, and sour cream are often interchangeable in any spread. Greek yogurt could be used for any of those, too, but is especially useful in place of sour cream. Garlic makes a perky addition with or instead of the shallot. Any grateable cheese can stand in for the Cheddar. Think Pepper Jack, Gouda, Swiss, Smoked Mozzarella, and so on. If you’ve no Boursin or Rondelé cheese on hand, toss in some cream cheese and a few extra herbs and spices. Herby or plain goat cheese works, too. (Do add some garlic, though.) Fresh herbs are wondrous, but if they aren’t yet up in your garden, use dried or fill in with spices. I like making at least part of this in the food processor, but an electric mixer, or a strong hand with a wooden spoon will also do the trick. Make a day ahead for the best flavor.
makes about 2 cups spread (8 servings)

Ingredients

  • 5.2- ounce package Boursin Gournay or Rondelé Cheese (Garlic and Fine Herbs or Garlic and Herbs)
  • ½ cup (2-ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons EACH mayonnaise and sour cream–or can use 4 tablespoons of just one
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon each fresh parsley and chives, minced – plus extra for garnish
  • 1 small shallot, minced (can sub red onion)
  • 4 shakes hot sauce – or to taste
  • 1 cup (8-ounces) crab meat, drained, flaked, and cartilage removed –squeezed dry with paper towels if using canned crab meat and patted dry if using fresh crab or a container of lump crab
  • 1 tablespoon minced red bell pepper-garnish
  • Seeded tortilla chips, crackers, and/or fresh vegetables for serving

Instructions

  • In a food processor, with an electric mixer, or by hand, pulse or mix the cheeses, mayonnaise, sour cream, zest and juice of lemon, ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, herbs, shallot, and hot sauce. Stir in the crab meat by hand until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings. Place in a tightly sealed storage container and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a little more mayonnaise or sour cream if the spread is too thick. Garnish with reserved parsley, chives, and chopped red bell pepper. Serve with seeded tortilla chips, crackers, and/or fresh vegetables. Store leftovers in the fridge promptly after eating and use with two days. Do not freeze.

Notes

Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2022. All rights reserved.

WINE? A cheerful sparkling wine like New Mexico’s GRUET or a Sauvignon Blanc would work as lovely accompaniments.

TIPS:

Creamy, Crumbly Gournay Cheese/BOURSINCHEESE-If you’re not familiar with Boursin Cheese, time to try this inexpensive and spreadable option for your favorite crackers, omelets, sandwiches, mashed potatoes, etc. Other recipes. Look for a 3-pack at COSTCO for under $10. Can’t that beat that with a stick.

Change it up: Seasonings for crab dips (hot or cold) often also include Old Bay Seasoning, paprika, Worcestershire Sauce, ground or Dijon-style mustard, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garlic, green onions, horseradish, celery salt or seed, and more. Google crab dip or crab spread and check out some other ideas to make my crab spread yours. Many crab dips are served hot, perhaps most. I haven’t tried that with this version, but if you’re interested, read through this recipe.

Go ahead and be crabby: Any crab will do for this spread — leftover King crab meat, lump or backfin crab meat, or even canned crab meat, which is the least expensive. Whichever you choose, rinse and pat dry or squeeze dry if using canned crab meat or your spread will be watery and lacking flavor.

Saving cash: Crab is costly. No doubt. It’s a treat. You can save the most money by buying canned crab that comes in 6-ounce cans, and while it’s not as tasty as fresh or lump, it’s useable and the dip is still worth making and eating. You’ll need two cans for this recipe.

Jim, Christa, Alyce, Dave in Paris.

Check out the Passover recipes at NYT

Many thanks to our good friends Jim and Christa Mahoney for being the guinea pigs for this crabby dish!


Link to story and recipe in case you need more this Friday!
I make an easy buttercream icing for my crosses.

LIFE GOES ON:

If you’d like to make Hot Cross Buns next week, try this BBC recipe by Paul Hollywood. It’s my favorite. Nigella’s Hot Cross Buns can be printed with American measurements. (Note they need an overnight-in-the-fridge rise.) You can pair them with my Clam Chowder for a fun Good Friday dinner.

Thinking Easter brunch for a crowd? Make my Easy Sheet Pan Quiche.

Extra eggs? Make my Deviled Egg Dip and be glad you did. (Buy your eggs now if you haven’t already. Older eggs peel more easily.)

Thanks for keeping me company in the kitchen; I appreciate it! This week I’ll be making hot cross buns for my husband Dave, my Bible study, and me. I’ll bake a luscious carrot cake to take to friends for Easter dinner. I’m getting off easily and know it. What are you making if you celebrate Easter? Or are you making reservations?!

We are still facing high winds with serious fire danger and had several area fires over the weekend. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for those of us out west as you stay well and cook on through this spring,

Alyce

Many thanks to Episcopal fb memes.

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