Saturday, November 25, 2006

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #11: Party Food

For most of us in the US, from the end of November though the first week of January means one long party. We go from Thanksgiving right into the Holiday rush of shopping, decorating, and cooking to the rounds of merry-making and good cheer that Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year bring. Sara at I Like to Cook and the hostess of Weekend Cookbook Challenge is here to help with the cooking part with this month's theme for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge #11: Party Food!

MBH and I have a very small, almost non-existent group of friends and now that we are an old staid pair, we don't party like we used to but I was able to find a recipe to try for this installment of WCC from one of my newest additions to my ever expanding cookbook collection, Paula Deen Celebrates! I picked this cookbook up right before Thanksgiving mainly for Paula's Buttermilk Biscuits but flipping through the cookbook several recipes struck me as delicious sounding, and one of them was absolutely perfect for Party Food, The Lady & Sons Crab Stuffed Shrimp.

There is a little bit of prep work involved with this recipe that mainly involves finding really big jumbo XXL shrimp and cleaning them. After a visit to two fishmongers in my area, I found 2 lbs of massive shrimp and the fish guy was even nice enough to devein them for me! I also picked up the lump crab meat ready to go in a nice tub. Once I got home, I put the shrimp and crab into the fridge, turned the oven to preheat and started making the filling. I would recommend chopping the veggies that go into the stuffing very, very fine as, even though the shrimp are huge, you are still going to stuff them and if you are like me, I would rather have more crab and less pepper and onion. I also added red pepper, onions and mushrooms to the mix that weren't called out in the recipe and substituted two left-over Parker House Rolls from Thanksgiving for the saltine crackers. I also skipped the cayenne pepper because I was out. The shrimp came together in about 25 minutes with a piece of bacon to hold the stuffing in the shrimp. I got about 12 shrimp from the 2lbs. While they were in the oven, I made the Basil Cream Sauce to dip the stuffed shrimp into.

Twenty minutes later, I had a plate full of crab stuffed shrimp that dressed up real darn pretty with a slender slice of red pepper and a bit of garlic chive. I have to say the shrimp stands up very nicely on it's own without the Basil Cream Sauce. In fact, I liked them better without the sauce. Lady & Sons Crab Stuffed Shrimp: elegant, tasty party food you can eat with your fingers.

Crab Stuffed Shrimp
Adapted from Paula Deen Celebrates

1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup sweet onion finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/8 cup finely chopped button mushroom stems
1/4 tsp garlic powder
dash salt
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup saltine cracker crumbs or very fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used Mircle Whip)
1 large egg
2 tsp minced fresh parsley
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 lb lump crabmeat, picked through for shells
1 lb extra large or jumbo shrimp (peeled, deveined with tails on)
12 slices bacon, halved (low sodium bacon is good)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in large saute pan over medium heat and saute onions, peppers, and mushrooms until peppers just soft. Remove from heat and place sauted veggies in bowl. Add garlic powder and salt and stir. Add mustard, egg, parsley, lemon juice, and cracker/bread crumbs. Mix well and gently fold in the crabmeat. Split the shrimp in half, careful not to cut all the way through. Place a small spoonful of stuffing on the shrimp and fold over, wrapping the stuffed shrimp with a piece of bacon and securing the whole thing with a toothpick. Place shrimp on a baking sheet and cook in top 1/3 of oven for 15 -20 minutes until bacon is cooked and stuffing is starting to turn a bit brown. Turn the oven to broil and broil for 3-5 minutes until bacon is crisp. Garnish with chives and pepper slices.