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Crab Puffs with Cucumber Tartar Sauce (Easter Dinner)

April 12, 2009

Crab Puffs

I am still celebrating the arrival Spring (even if the april showers keep showing up) and obsessing over all things green, such as limes, peas, herbs, asparagus and cucumbers.  Accordingly, for Easter dinner I delivered a green-themed menu. Dont get delusions of a St. Patty’s style event with green beer and clusters of shamrocks – I tried to keep my green obsession tasteful.

For hors d’ouvres, I served a bowl of shelled edamame alongside crab puffs with a cucumber tartar sauce.  These are less like traditional crab cakes and more cheese puff with lots of fresh lump crab meat mixed in.  The cucumber tartar sauce added just the right amount of freshness and kick.  Both the tartar sauce and the crab puffs were inspired by from recipes on Epicurious, the best place to start when planning a menu for good quality and unique recipes.  I served them on my favorite Michael Aram Molten collection serveware.

Crab Puff Close-Up



7 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
4 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
6 ounces fresh lump crabmeat, picked over, patted dry, coarsely shredded
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans


  1. Beat cream cheese in an electric mixer until smooth.  Add 1/4 cup Parmesan and egg; beat to blend. Beat in sour cream, citrus peels, chopped chives, coarse salt, and cayenne pepper. Fold in crabmeat. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 24 cup mini muffin pan. Mix panko, 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/4 cup melted butter over in a small bowl, tossing with fork until evenly moistened.  Press 1 tablespoon panko mixture into bottom of each muffin cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon crab mixture into each cup. Sprinkle teaspoon of panko mixture over each.
  3. Bake crab cakes until golden on top and set, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Run knife around each cake and gently lift out of pan. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Arrange on baking sheet; let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 350°F oven 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Arrange crab cakes on serving platter; serve with Cucumber Tartar Sauce below.

Cucumber Tartar Sauce



1 cup 1/8-inch cubes peeled and seeded cucumber
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers, rinsed
1 teaspoon anchovy paste


  1. In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber with the salt. Let stand about 1 hour. Transfer to a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Pat the cucumber dry.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the drained cucumber, mayonnaise, chives, capers, and anchovy paste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: The tartar sauce can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.


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