Shortly after volunteering to bring baked fontina to a casual New Year’s Eve gathering with the neighbors, fear of becoming a one-trick pony sent me back to the drawing board.
So I scoured my favorite hors d’oeuvres cookbooks and files and pulled out a recipe — Martha Stewart’s hot crab dip — I have been meaning to make since last February when I read The Wednesday Chef describe it as the “number one most delicious thing [she] made over the holidays.” Sounded like a winner.
Over the weekend, I discovered it was. It’s a snap to assemble — sauté shallots in butter, add spices, half-and-half and cream cheese, fold in crab — and it cooks in 20 minutes. I baked off a third of the mixture for Ben and me for lunch, and when that little cazuela emerged from the oven, cheese bubbling through a paprika-speckled surface, we attacked it with crackers, bread and a squeeze more lemon.
Sure, hot crab dip is old fashioned, rich and creamy, spiced with Old Bay and Worcestershire, but it also couldn’t be more festive or delicious: piping hot, loaded with crab, spiced with just enough cayenne to keep you reaching for more. I have no doubt my neighbors will approve of my new party trick.
Friends, I can’t believe another year has passed. Here’s to being many-trick ponies in 2015. Happy New Year, Everyone.
Source: The Wednesday Chef via Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook, which is a classic — I’ve had this book for over 10 years, and every time I open it, I find new inspiration. Watch a video of Martha making the dip here.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¾ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¾ cup half-and-half
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
- 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater (about 1¾ cups)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 10 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over for cartilage
- ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into ¼-inch pieces
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- bread, crackers, toast points for serving
- extra lemon for serving, optional (I like a little extra)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon water and simmer for 30 seconds. Stir in the cayenne, Old Bay, and dry mustard until well combined.
- Pour half-and-half into saucepan and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the cream cheese, a few pieces at a time. When the cream cheese is fully incorporated, whisk in the cheddar cheese, a handful at a time. Stir the mixture for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce; stir to combine. Stir in crabmeat and half of the parsley. Transfer mixture to an ovenproof baking dish.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. In a small bowl, toss bread with the butter, remaining parsley, and paprika. Season with salt. Spread bread mix over crab and bake until bread layer is golden and dip is hot, 18 to 22 minutes — depending on your vessel, it might take less or more time. Once it is bubbly and beginning to look golden, it’s done. Serve with bread and extra lemon if using.