Keep the crabs happy

blogff03401.JPGWhat am I going to do, go through life and not challenge myself? Yesterday at Fairway they had a massive basket of blue crabs and I bought every one that was not just living, but fighting. Then, just because I will always be clueless about how much seafood people eat, I bought a few pounds of shrimp as well. I had people coming over, and I was trying to convince myself that shellfish is quick and easy.
First I worried that the crabs were going to die in the refrigerator. Every fifteen minutes or so I opened the door to let them breathe.
When I had enough of trying to save them, I got ready to cook them and started to fill both sinks with water so that I could wash them the necessary three times. I had the full, unsolicited attention of Ferdinand. The crabs were fighting the fight to my left and to my right and from behind Ferd was saying “did you buy them for me, are they my pets? I love crabs. I love you, crabs.” He and his father took the crabs out to the backyard, loved them, trained them and then corraled them back into the house. It was too much for a few of them, which brought me down to only 2 crabs a person. I tried not to blame Ferd and got my aromatics ready for the pot: a leek without the dark green bits, a few bay leaves, some fresh thyme, some parsley, four peppercorns, a garlic clove, a lot of water and a drizzle of my best olive oil.
I added lemon juice and I remembered as my hand was squeezing the lemon, that lemon juice in the cooking water will continue to cook the fish way long after it comes out of the pan. I let it simmer for 30 minutes, hoping that all the acid would cook out. The crabs went in for about 5 minutes each, and the shrimp for about 2 and a half. I threw everything in the fridge and considered the situation. I decided to shell all the crab and the shrimp so that I could examine every inch of everything. An hour later, the shrimp were down by four or five, but the crab was all right. Forget putting acid in the water if you have no wine; just squeeze the lemon on right before you serve. I don’t know who said it first, but even the President makes mistakes, the important thing is, can you blot the sweat, pull yourself together and fix it. I drizzled a little olive oil into the crab, added the tiniest bit of sea salt, toasted about a half teaspoon of fennel seed for the one cup of crab meat that I had left, crushed the seeds in the mortar and pestle, added them and tasted for lemon juice. I served that as part of my main course on top of bruschetta, rubbed with raw garlic and olive oil. Along with it I had my platter of now nearly enough shrimp with a little olive oil, and a tiny bit of salt. I made a dipping oil for them by crushing half a clove of garlic in the mortar and pestle, a few basil leaves, mint leaves, thyme, and parsley, and then slowly drizzling in olive oil until I had about a third of a cup. Taste for salt, and there is nothing better.
For the appetizers, bufulata, a super creamy mozzarella made from buffalo milk that comes wrapped in a leaf, dried French apricots, seared green onion and French green olives. My first course was an asparagus risotto, I made a salad for my last course, my favorite zucchini ribbons with arugula and toasted pine nuts and currants, and fresh pineapple for dessert. It was meant to have a little mascarpone with lemon zest and tiny bit of sugar on the side, but I forgot it.
I love to cook, I really do.blogff0341.JPG

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