Chef Schwartz says, “Who wants fresh crab meat, especially jumbo lump, smothered in sauce or as part of a dish with tons of other components? So I keep it simple with the crab cake. The key is to allow the natural sweetness of the crab meat to stand out. I think that’s what attracts diners to the dish.” Boost check averages with appetizers guests can’t pass up by Lacey Griebeler hink about it: We’re a nation of snackers. And even though the economy is starting to bounce back, customers are still wary of spending too much at dinner—and they’re skipping the first course. So it’s time to claim back those snack dollars. Evaluate the appetizer portion of the menu, and come up with some tantalizing first bites that they won’t be able to resist. Consider offering a menu just for happy hour or late-night to entice guests to come into your restaurant weekly instead of seasonally. According to recent Mintel data, 64 percent of diners surveyed are looking for a beverage when they snack out. It could be worth your while to offer up suggested pairings on the snack menu. Where to start with the food? You could consider the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot survey of the top five appetizer/ starter trends on menus. Beginning with the most popular, they are: amuse bouche, mini-burgers/ sliders, appetizer combos/platters, appetizer salads and Asian appetizers, like tempura, spring rolls, satay and dumplings. Chef has rounded up some bestselling appetizer recipes, and wine consultant Marlene Rossman gives her recommendations on vino to complement the snacks. Here’s a sneak peek, and for the rest, be sure to visit the digital edition at www. T Michael Schwartz, executive chef/owner, Michael’s Genuine, Miami, Yield: 6 servings 1 lb. Blue Star Foods jumbo lump crabmeat, drained well, patted dry, picked over for shells 6 T. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter 1 small shallot, minced 1 t. Old Bay seasoning 1 t. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning 1/2 t. dry mustard Pinch of cayenne pepper 1/3 c. heavy cream 2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped 1 c. all-purpose flour 1 large egg 1 T. water 1 c. panko breadcrumbs 1/4 c. vegetable oil, divided Carrot Butter Sauce (recipe follows) Alfalfa sprouts, for garnish Method (1) Put the crab in a mixing bowl, and set aside. (2) Combine the butter and shallot in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add Old Bay, salt, pepper, mustard and cayenne. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the cream. (3) Pour the butter mixture over the crab. Add the scallions. Fold the ingredients together gently but thoroughly, taking care not to mash the crabmeat. The mixture will look almost runny, but it will firm up in the fridge. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight is even better. (4) When ready to cook, use your hands to form the mixture into 6 crab cakes; they should be moist and just hold together. Put the crab cakes on a plate, cover with plastic, and refrigerate while getting your breading station set up. This allows the flavors to blend and the crab cakes to set. (5) Put the flour in a pie plate, and season with salt and pepper. Crack the egg into a shallow bowl, add water, and beat with a fork until frothy. Put the breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl. (6) Pour 2 T. oil in a large skillet, and place over medium heat. Working with 3 crab cakes at a time (keep remaining cakes in the refrigerator), lightly dredge both sides of the crab cakes in the seasoned flour, dip each cake into the beaten egg, and then coat completely with breadcrumbs. Gently lay the cakes in the hot oil, and brown for 3-4 minutes on each side (turning only once, or they will break up). Drain on paper towels. Wipe out the pan with paper towels, and add the remaining oil; repeat with the remaining 3 crab cakes. (7) To serve, pool a small amount of Carrot Butter Sauce on each of 6 plates. Put 1 crab cake in the center, and garnish with a pile of sprouts. Carrot Butter Sauce (1 c.) 1 c. carrot juice 1 small carrot, thinly sliced 1 shallot, coarsely chopped 1 t. kosher salt 2 T. heavy cream 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature Method (1) Combine carrot juice, carrot and shallot in a small pot over medium-low heat; season with salt. Simmer for 10 minutes until the carrot is completely soft and mushy. The liquid will reduce almost by half, not quite. (2) Pour in the cream, stir to incorporate, and simmer for 2-3 minutes to combine. (It will look a bit grainy and separated, but not to worry.) Remove from the heat. (3) Whisk in the butter a few chunks at a time; the sauce will come together. Pour the carrot sauce into a blender, and hold a kitchen towel over the top for safety. Buzz until completely smooth and a beautiful sunset color. Wine pairing: The rich and elegant Jordan Chardonnay 2008 (California), with ripe, creamy peach and nectarine flavors, will match the richness of the crab cakes and Carrot Butter Sauce. Super Lump Crab Cake with Carrot butter SauCe August 2010 | 9