Let me just say that I have been inundated with millions of emails from readers asking, no begging me to come up with some type of Easter menu they could cook for their friends and family. One that was easy and could easily feed a crowd.
Okay, maybe not a million people asked me this, I don't want to exaggerate, it was only in the hundreds of thousands.
So I thought about it and figured we better get started since we're only a couple or so weeks away from the holiday where the bunny who delivers eggs (strange concept) extravaganza.
So over the next two weeks I will be holding your hand through what you thought was going to be a stressful menu preparation. Lucky for you we're going to take it one step at a time. It seems most people who have inquired are cooking for a small army or a big one and needed some no-brainer but delicious items to prepare for this special day.
Well folks you came to the right place. I've got your backs. We are going to start with appetizers, move on to salad, conquer a main course and then, oh yes, dessert. You will not be disappointed, no, not at all.
So let's set the tone. It's Easter. Fifteen family members are coming for brunch/lunch/dinner and an Easter Egg hunt and you don't know what to make. Or maybe you need to bring a dish to wherever you are going to do your egg hunting. Well this appetizer is the one for you. It is decadence to the enth degree. It is heaven. It is elegant. It is love. It is HOT CRAB DIP like you have never had before. In your life. Ever.
This appetizer has never failed to be demolished in about 4.2 seconds. It's amazingly rich and comforting and it is special enough to make for a holiday celebration. It can also be put together 24 hours ahead; freeing you up to clean all the toilets in your house before your guests arrive with time leftover to flatiron your hair.
So let's get started, we only have a couple weeks here!
Here are the simplest of ingredients you need. When you put them together, the universe becomes one and geometric planetary alignments occur causing explosions in your mouth that cause the Earth to tilt over and trigger tidal forces that bring on magnetic field interactions that could...okay I'll stop. But all of that really happens, so watch out.
Okay, what you need; fresh lump crab, mayonnaise, cream cheese, lemon juice, hot-pepper sauce, scallions, Parmesan cheese, salt, fresh ground pepper and French or sourdough bread.
Now let's start with the important stuff. CREAM CHEESE. Oh yeah, now we're getting seriously, serious. The original recipe called for 1/3 fat cream cheese. Yeah, that is soooo not going to happen here. We're celebrating, we're not cutting the fat. I can't even imagine what this would taste like with lowfat cream cheese Yuck!
Really, this is not a bar of soap. It's the cream cheese remember? 8 oz of cream cheese is what you need. Add it to a mixing bowl making sure it is room temperature, don't forget that part.
I'd like you all to meet my boyfriend...mayonnaise. He is by far the loveliest condiment you could ever know. And he likes to keep it REAL...see it's right on his label. He's such a charmer.
Now again don't even consider using some light mayo or something sacrilegious like that. I mean this is what gives this dish the unbelievable richness and decadence I was speaking of. If you need to do jumping-jacks between bites go ahead. Deep-knee-bends, go for it. Just do not use LIGHT MAYO. It's for LOSERS! 1/2 cup of mayonnaise is unfortunately all we need in this dip.
Mmmmm...mayo and cream cheese. Okay, make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature because you need to mix these two ingredients together to form one fluffy, creamy mixture. If your cream cheese is cold it will not look whipped like this. It will be clumpy and dumpy and it will make you grumpy.
Lemon squeezing time. My friend Sandy gave me a ji-mungo bag of lemons the other day from her tree. She even wrote my name on some of the leaves. I felt very special. These lemons are the juiciest lemons I think I have ever squeezed. Thanks Sandy!
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice gets added to the mayo-cream cheese mixture.
I love Frank's Hot Sauce. I have an Uncle named Frank. Maybe that's why I love it so much....
1/4 teaspoon of hot pepper sauce is what is called for...however I might add more.
Now for the scallions or spring onions or green onions...whatever you want to call them...just dice them up...you will need 3 altogether.
Add them to the bowl. And mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Now for the crabmeat...Mr. Crabs is freaking out...he knows I hate cheapskates and well, he is by far the biggest cheapskate I know!
Oh bummer, Mr. Crabs is shredded....like totally. You can still see his little claw over there on the left. Spongebob is going to be pissed.
Go ahead and add the crab to the mixture and fold it in. You will need 12 oz fresh lump crabmeat (about 2 cups). Do NOT use canned crab or anything funky like that for this dish. Go to the fish counter and ask for LUMP CRABMEAT. I can't even think of what this might taste like with some stinky, canned crab. Eeewww.
Now for the salt. And here's a question for you all. Why do you think the salt is "Iodized"? Hmmm, anybody, anybody? Well, at one time, in certain parts of the United States, there was not enough Iodine in people's diet and they were developing goiters. Yep, nice huh? Iodine is a necessary mineral for the synthesis of certain thyroid hormones. When iodine is deficient in the diet, these hormones cannot be made. Ummm, if you don't know what a goiter is you need to take a minute and search Google images; it might be scary. Anyway, think twice before you reach for your rock salt or your she-she-la-la French sea salt because you too might wake up with a goiter. It's really something to consider. Really.
A 1/2 teaspoon of salt is all you need to remain goiter free.
Now for the pepper. My friends Mike and Loran gave me this adorable pepper grinder several years ago. Isn't it cute? It suits me perfectly. Thanks guys, I'm still using it. Sorry this picture is just the crappiest of crap. It doesn't do this very special grinder justice. I'll try harder next time.
A 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper will do it.
Mix everything together gently. You don't want to mutilate the crab.
Spread into a 3 cup baking dish. Do not put this dip into a giant dish. The one you see here is approximately 10 x 7 and roughly 1.5 inches deep.
Now for the Parmesan cheese...the real stuff this time. Get your box grater out or whatever you use and grate away! Watch your knuckles, don't ask me why.
Sprinkle at least 3 Tablespoons of Parmesan cheese over the dip.
Place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes until it's bubbly and the top is golden brown.
While the dip is in the oven slice a rustic loaf of French or sourdough bread.
When it comes out of the oven, it will be golden and bubbling and oozing and no one will be able to resist this. I promise you, after you make this your guests will be powerless. They will also not be able to help you with the dishes...hmmm...make it anyway...it's that good.
Here is the dip on top of the bread. Isn't it fabulous? It is so creamy and just has such an incredible flavor. I cannot even tell you how wonderful this is. You are just going to have to make it yourself.
Hot Crab Dip
adapted from Al Roker's Hassle Free Holiday Cookbook
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp hot-pepper sauce
3 scallions, finely chopped
12 oz lump crabmeat (2 cups)
1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Sliced French or sourdough bread
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Have ready a 3-cup baking dish.
Mix cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in lemon juice, pepper sauce and scallions; fold in crabmeat, salt and pepper. Spread in baking dish; sprinkle with cheese.
Bake 20 minutes until bubbly and top is golden. Serve hot or warm with sliced bread.