Crab cake bites and bacon fried pecans: Two do-ahead appetizers
Planning a party? Try these two easy appetizer ideas that can be prepped ahead of time. Top mini crab cakes with a tangy, creamy artichoke tartar sauce, and toss toasted pecans with bacon bits.
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The Runaway Spoon
Perre Magness has studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France has broadened her own culinary skill and palate. The kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.
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For the tartar sauce:
4 medium sized whole artichokes hearts (see note)
2 egg yolks
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup safflower, grapeseed or canola oil
Drain and rinse the artichoke hearts well and pat dry. Drop them in a food processor (I use the mini) and add the capers, egg yolks, parsley and garlic cloves. Pulse three to four times to break everything up into a rough paste; scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, drizzle the oil into the bowl in a thin, steady stream. Process until the sauce is thick and creamy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway through. Scrape the tartar sauce into a container and keep covered in the fridge until ready to use. It will keep overnight.
I prefer pasteurized lump crab meat that I find in containers at the seafood counter at better grocery stores.
I generally used canned artichoke hearts in brine, rather than the marinated, quartered ones in jars because the marinated ones have some flavor additions. If you can only find those, rinse them really well. If you can only find quartered, use 12 quarters.
Bacon fried pecans
I don’t know who makes these decisions, but there is an endless list of “National Days” celebrating foods, dishes and ingredients. I recently saw that it was National Pecan Month, so I thought I better pull out a preparation for the iconic Southern nut. These are a salty, crunchy snack for a party, or on top of a salad, and once again prove that everything is better with bacon.
Makes 8 ounces
1 pound bacon
8 ounces pecan halves
1. Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Drain the bacon on paper towels, then transfer the bacon grease to a medium sized skillet and let the bacon grease cool.
2. Use a sturdy knife to chop 6 strips of bacon. Save the rest of the bacon for another use.
3. Have a plate lined with paper towels ready by the stove. Reheat the bacon grease over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles, but do not let it smoke. Drop a handful of pecans into the hot fat and stir around. Remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared plate after about 15 seconds. Just let the pecans turn a shade darker, watch carefully and do not let them burn. Immediately sprinkle the hot pecans with salt. Continue with the remaining pecans. If the fat starts to smoke, remove from the heat for a few seconds to cool down.
4. When the pecans are cool, toss them with the chopped bacon and serve in a big bowl.
Be sure to let the bacon grease cool, then reheat it for frying. The nuts burn quickly and reheating allows more control over the temperature.
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