Friday, August 20, 2010

Chili-Lime Crab Salad with Tomato and Avocado

        The last time I was in Paris, I went the Atelier des Chefs cooking school for a lesson.  There are actually six locations around the city where you can take a class that lasts anywhere from an hour to 3 hours.  I chose to go the school itself on Rue Penthievre which is right behind the Place de la Madelaine.  It was a great class, all in French, and all female with one glaring exception…L’homme Americain.  I  had the good fortune to have been born in Montreal where you learn French from a very early age and it's stood me in good stead all these years.  So I was very at home at the school.  Included among the students was a beautiful young girl and her equally elegant “Grandmere”.   Apparently it was the “Grandmere” who had received the classes as a Christmas gift and not, as I’d imagined, the pretty young bride!  I guess you really are never too old to learn.  

I was told they had sessions in English and in fact, I was asked by my instructor if I’d help her with some phrases for a class she was giving that night.  But on their website, , I can’t find any reference to them. But if you are familiar with what used to be called “Montreal Kitchen French”, you’ll get along just fine.  It’s all about watching and mimicking which doesn’t exactly require a LaRousse to do.   This is all a very roundabout way of getting to my purchase from their kitchen shop.   There was sale on stainless steel rings, the ones that make perfect rounds on the plate and make everything look remarkably professional.  Needless to say, I had to immediately buy 6 of them.  When I got home to Bridgehampton, they went into a drawer and hadn’t emerged ever until I found the perfect way to use them…in this wonderful salad!  And if you happen to be without your Matfer Bourgeat rings, you can still make it.

Let’s face it, in the heat, there is no such thing as too many salad recipes.   And while I have had many Crab salads over the years, this recipe really turns up the volume with its moderately spicy, citrus-y dressing.  And what’s more perfect than ripe tomatoes and perfect avocados in August ?   It’s from Food and Wine’s Sue Zemanick.  It requires no heat, takes no time to make so you can have it on the plates in under 30 minutes. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Chile-Line Crab Salad with Tomato and Avocado
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon very finely chopped jalapeño

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over

2 Hass avocados, 1 diced (1/2 inch thick), the other sliced for garnish.

1/3 cup minced red onion

1 large heirloom tomato, cut into four 1/2-inch-thick slices

1.   In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, vegetable oil, jalapeño, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
2.   In a small bowl, toss the crab with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing; season with salt and pepper.
3.   Place a tomato slice on each plate and season with salt. Top with the avocado and the crab and garnish with the cilantro. Drizzle the remaining dressing on top.  Serve on a bed of lettuce garnished Can easily be doubled.