Friday, September 26, 2008

Ebelskiver Pancakes

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As you may or may not know, I am slightly obsessed with Williams Sonoma and all of their wonderful cooking gadgets. A few weekends ago I went and purchased an ebelskiver pan (and an AWESOME, top of the line cheese grater, but that is a whole other story). Ebelskiver pancakes are dutch pancakes that are round, fluffy and usually stuffed with something yummy. I had seen the pan in the catalog with some apple cinnamon filled delights and I had to go buy it.

I went to the store and bought all of the ingredients, including some canned apple pie filling because I was too hungry to think about making THAT from scratch at the time. I went home and started preparing the batter . . . thinking it would be a relatively simple process. I was wrong. As it turns out, ebelskivers are so light and fluffy because the cook has to separate out the egg whites from the egg yolks and whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until they are a meringue consistency and THEN mix the delicate egg white mixture in carefully with the rest of the batter. It took me about 30 minutes to prepare the batter alone. Then, the fun part started: cooking the little things. They cooked quickly and turned easily using toothpicks ( I am super anal about NOT ruining my non-stick surfaces).

I pulled out the first batch, layered on some powdered sugar and maple syrup and gave it to my friend to try . . . dun dun dun . . . he loved them! Hooray! I made another batch and tried them myself, I was less than impressed. They were good, but I think they could have been SO much better with a filling made from scratch. So, I went online and found lots of new fillings to try: raspberry, lemon mascarpone, chocolate . . . I am excited to try out my new pan again, but with more time and a filling from scratch.

I don't think I will be able to try this weekend because I am just too busy trying to finish my painting project and heading back to Gig Harbor to meet up with friends. Once I do try again I will post how it went . . . and if it is actually good . . . maybe a recipe too!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Seattle's Best . . . Crab Cakes?

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So, for a fair number of years now I have been on a very serious search for Seattle’s best crab cake. It sounds lame, I know, but my mind has always boggled at the fact that some crab cakes are like divine ambrosia and others are disgusting, inedible swill. I make a fantastic crab cake myself, but I rarely make them because it requires a trip to Pike Place to buy the freshest possible crab, overheating (and stinking up) my apartment with steam from boiling a 12 quart pot and 2 HOURS of shelling the damn things—they are fantastic but I work full time and making them often just is not practical.

Anyway, I have visited many of Seattle’s restaurants (both low and high end) to try their crab cakes. Here are some of my more noteworthy findings (ratings are based on a scale of 5):

67 at the Edgewater score 2.5
A single crab cake is $18 at the Edgewater, with its lovely view and swanky atmosphere. However, I would have to say that the crab cake is NOT worth the price. The crab cakes are made using jumbo lump meat and some kind of odd cream based, whipped up crap that holds the cake together—this results in a rubbery, unpleasant texture that is interrupted by a lump of meat every now and again. The flavor was great, but the texture was horrible. If you do go to the Edgewater order the salmon. Oh.My.God.
Edgewater: 2411 Alaskan Way, Pier 67, Seattle, WA 98121

Anthony’s score 3
The crab cakes aren’t too outrageously expensive and are worth the price. They aren’t incredibly flavorful and the sauce is much too buttery—they may as well serve the things with a stick of butter and not bother calling it a sauce. Every once in a while I have found a piece of shell in my crab cake as well—which is unpleasant.
Anthony's: 6135 Seaview Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107

Icon Grill score 3.5
To be fair, these crab cakes are a crab/salmon hybrid, but they are delicious. They are fairly priced and you can get them in the bar at happy hour. They go great with a chardonnay and have a flavorful sauce.
Icon Grill: 1933 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

Matador score 1
I will NEVER eat a crab cake at the Matador again because my mouth was on fire for 4 hours after I left! I enjoy a little spice as much as the next girl, but this was eye popping, painful spice. It’s my fault really; I didn’t read the menu closely enough and overlooked the fact that the crab cakes had habenero pepper in them. I will say that despite the fact that my mouth was en fuego the crab cakes came with a fantastic sweet coconut sauce that was meant to compliment the spice. If the crab cakes were half as spicy they would have been fantastic, but I do not enjoy sweating while eating.
Matador: 2221 NW Market Street, Seattle, WA 98107

Nordstrom Gill score 3.5
I was pleasantly surprised one random Saturday while shopping and spur of the moment stopping in at the Nordstrom Grill (basement of the flagship Nordstrom store in downtown Seattle) for a snack with a friend. We ordered the crab cakes took a bite, and looked at each other like “Oh my God, this is actually good?!?” They were flavorful, good sauce, no weird texture, no complaints from this picky eater and cheap to boot.
Nordstrom Grill: 500 Pine Street, Seattle, WA 98101

Oceanaire score 1.5
You know for a place that boasts the best seafood in town and has a reputation as such you would think an amateur foodie like myself could find SOMETHING to like about this restaurant. The crab cakes were as bland as the nasty, potluck looking, sad pea salad they were served next to . . . . vomit. Oh, did I mention that you are paying for “the best seafood in town”? Ha.
Oceanaire: 1700 7th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

Salty’s score 3
Once again, these are expensive, and slightly overpriced if you ask me (as most things are at Salty’s), but you are paying for the view. The crab cake had adequate flavor and an excellent raspberry sauce that I found VERY enjoyable. I think I liked the sauce better than the crab cake.
Salty's: 1936 Harbor Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98126

Szmania score 3
I like Szmania’s in general, it is a cute restaurant right in Magnolia with paintings from local artists and rave reviews from magazines and newspapers hanging on the walls. German food isn’t normally my bag, but the potato crusted salmon is super good. The crab cakes were fairly good as well, but nothing to do a cartwheel about, just good.
Szmania: 3321 W. McGraw, Seattle, WA 98199

Tap House score 2
Blah. Chain restaurant food prepared in a place that does too much of everything and does absolutely none of it well. Blah. Go to the Tap House for the beer not the food, especially not the sushi. I am not a big fan of sushi in the first place, but I had a horrible stomach ache after attempting to eat a California Roll here.
Tap House: 1506 6th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

I have eaten crab cakes many other places as well, but nothing sticks out in my mind about the other places in a good or a bad way. I am fairly certain that I had crab cakes at Flying Fish in Belltown, but I can’t remember enough to make a fair critique.

I have to say my homemade crab cakes are still my personal favorite! I make them with fresh, Dungeness crab meat and serve them with lime, cilantro aioli. I would post the recipe, but I think I want to keep it all to myself—you know, so I can get the credit! I make them on the rare occasion that I throw a party, so next time come and enjoy.