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Crab cake bites and bacon fried pecans: Two do-ahead appetizers

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The Runaway Spoon

(Read caption) Use mini muffin tins to make these bite-sized crab cakes. Top them with an artichoke tartar sauce that comes together quickly in the food processor.

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Many years ago, I picked up a recipe card in the checkout line at a grocery store in London. It had a complicated fish recipe, but what attracted me was the artichoke tartar sauce. That card sat in my recipe file for years, until I rediscovered it and decided to give it a go. The recipe was a complete dud. Weird ingredients, lengthy procedures and it just didn’t come together. It left me with a bowl of gloopy, oddly colored mess. So I threw the card away (and the sauce).

But the idea stuck. A tangy, creamy sauce with a nice bite from artichoke hearts that would be a great accompaniment to seafood. So I persevered and came up with this version. I first took it to a friend’s house for a fish fry – they fried the fish caught that morning. It was a big hit, so I wanted to share the recipe. But it has taken me another few years to figure out how to do it. 

I don’t particularly enjoy frying fish myself, so no duplicating the tartar sauce’s triumphant debut. Then it hit me – crab cakes. Like a semi-deconstructed crab and artichoke dip. I fiddled with a classic crab cake recipe, paring it down to basic flavors so the tartar sauce wouldn’t be overwhelmed. And pressing the mixture into little muffin tins makes them easier to cook and perfect bites for a party – the tins can be filled and refrigerated just until ready to bake. A little dollop of tartar sauce makes them pretty, and the mini-sized, crispy sides make them easy to eat.


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