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Published December 27th, 2017
Add warmth to the holidays with Southwest crab or shrimp cakes
Southwest Crab and Shrimp Cakes Photo Susie Iventosch

This is the time of year when I start to think about new crab recipes. For some reason, January and crab go together in my mind and crab cakes came up in conversation at a recent holiday luncheon. Oddly enough, this conversation was prompted by the delivery of a lovely slice of tiramisu.
Lynn Ballou, who writes Lynn's Top Five, a column offering financial planning advice, told me she'd love to travel the globe in search of the perfect tiramisu and crab cakes. In fact, when she and her colleague, Marilyn Plum, first met they attended many business luncheons together and very quickly discovered that Marilyn always gravitated toward the crab cakes on the menu, while Lynn was tempted by the tiramisu.
"Our favorite place to have both was the wonderful restaurant in Walnut Creek - Speidini's, which is no longer there, but a favorite for both of us," Lynn recounted.
Now that Marilyn is semi-retired, she's traveling the globe and Lynn says that instead of sending pictures of herself and her husband in some famous, far-away destination, she sends photos of the most amazing crab cakes or tiramisu they've enjoyed along the journey.
I really love this idea and would love to join in the adventure, but in the meantime, I traveled to my kitchen put together a recipe that works both for shrimp and crab cakes. I had never made shrimp cakes before, and they were awesome. We served them with blue cheese-yogurt dressing spiced up with hot sauce. Just add a salad, and you have a beautiful dinner ready to go.
If you have a favorite crab cake or tiramisu recipe, or have had an amazing one in a local restaurant or in your travels that you'd like to share, please email it to me so we can expand our quest!
Cooking Term of the Week
Timbale is a drum-shaped mold that is slightly tapered toward the bottom. Usually the food that is made in this mold is a custard-based recipe that is turned out of the mold before serving. Both the dish itself and the recipe made in the dish are referred to as a timbale. A timbale can also be a high-sided pie crust that holds meat or fruit.

Southwest Crab or Shrimp Cakes

(Makes 8 crab or shrimp cakes)

1 pound, (roughly 3 cups) chopped cooked shrimp or crab meat
1 Tbsp. grated red onion
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeno pepper, very finely diced (optional)
1 egg
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise (need for crab cakes, but not necessary for shrimp cakes)
1 cup panko, divided into 1/3 cup for inside cakes and 2/3 cup for exterior coating
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil for cooking
Garnish: Lime wedges and cilantro leaves
Blue cheese dressing with hot sauce for dipping


Remove tails from shrimp and place in the bowl of the food processor. With the metal blade pulse 8 to 10 times, until shrimp is chopped but not too pasty. (For crab, don't process meat.) Transfer meat to a medium-sized bowl.
Add 1/3 cup panko (reserve 2/3 cup for coating exterior of cakes) and all remaining ingredients except olive oil. Mix well and divide into eight equal portions. Form into patties and then coat on all sides in panko crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper.
At this point, you can cook the crab cakes and serve, or you can refrigerate them ahead of time to cook later in the day.
When ready to cook, heat oil on griddle over medium-high heat. Place cakes on griddle and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
Garnish with lime wedge, cilantro leaves and a spoonful of spicy blue cheese dressing.

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