I've written many times about the "Third Saturday Wine Dinner Club." This weekend we met at the home of Mary and Joel Smith. April is our anniversary date, and we are now marking the beginning of our eighth year, missing very few months along the way.
As a reminder, the host couple sets the theme and makes the main course. Last month's host brings a cocktail and the other three couples sign up for either first appetizer, seated first course and dessert.
The theme was "Like a Virgin." We were to make a recipe we'd never made before, and bring a wine we'd never tasted. I chose to make the seated first course. After lots of looking through torn-out recipes and stacks of cookbooks, I chose a recipe from the magazine "Cuisine et Vins de France." It was a cucumber-crab roll. While a bit pricey, it was fast to make and pronounced delicious by all.
I bought fresh jumbo lump crab from Paradise Seafood. The recipe as published calls for 10.5 ounces (300 grams) for four servings, but I was making 10 servings. I got two pounds of crabmeat, so we'll have crab cakes for dinner tomorrow!
Although the recipe didn't call for it, I had a bag of the mini-peppers I love to stuff with hummus or Boursin for appetizers. I diced one red one and sautéed with the shallots. It was a felicitous addition.
The magazine says to use a mandolin or very sharp knife to cut the cucumbers. Perhaps your knife skills are better than mine but I'm not sure I could have cut them thinly enough for this recipe. Salting and letting them sit for a while makes them more pliable but the first couple I did on a thicker setting would have been difficult to roll.
The recipe doesn't call for it but I put a handful of arugula on the plate and topped it with the crab rolls.
The whole procedure for 20 rolls took well under an hour, and since it must be done at least a couple of hours ahead, it's perfect for special guests. You know how I hate to be stuck in the kitchen when my guests are in the living room eating appetizers and having a good time without me!
Rouleaux de concombre au crabe
(Crab Cucumber Roll-Ups)
To serve four people (two rolls each)
2 cucumbers12 ounces lump crabmeat (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1 package fresh chives
2 shallots (to equal about 2 tablespoons chopped, sometimes
the shallots in our markets are enormous)
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Juice and finely grated zest of one orange
4 tablespoons good fruity olive oil
1 large pinch ground ginger
1 large pinch sweet (as in not hot) smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons honey6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Wash the cucumbers. With a mandolin or very sharp knife, cut the unpeeled cucumbers into very thin lengthwise slices. Discard the first and last ones, from the outside and if there are a lot of seeds, the very center ones as well. You should have about 8 slices from each cucumber. Lay the slices out on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with fine salt and let set while preparing the filling.
Drain the crab in a strainer. With scissors, cut the chives crosswise into small pieces and set aside. Peel and chop the shallots. Heat the butter in a skillet and cook the shallots for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Let cool.
In a bowl, whisk the orange juice and olive oil together. Mix in the reserved chives, shallots, crab, ginger and paprika. Toss to combine well.
Pat the cucumber slices dry. On your work surface lay them out two by two, overlapping. Divide the crab mixture among them, placing each portion at one short end of the slices. Roll up, place seam side down, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.
When ready to serve, at the last moment, slightly warm the honey, soy sauce together. Place the rolls on a serving platter or divide among four individual plates and drizzle the sauce over them. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve at once.