Happy Crab Cakes

Happy crab... get it? The crab is happy because it's being left alone. Sure, I could call it an artichoke heart cake but that doesn't sound as fun, does it? And quite honestly, it tastes like a crab cake. So I'm sticking to the name. 

Everything about this recipe is very close to the traditional one, but instead of crab meat, I use shredded artichoke hearts (one of the main go to seafood replacements for vegans and non-seafood eaters). For some reason, the fibrous texture of the artichoke hearts works really well for mocking crab meat and with the added bonus of not having to use a highly processed vegan protein. The panko bread crumb coating provides these cakes with a mega crisp and crunch factor, while the filling is succulent, juicy, and packed with flavor. It's precisely what you want when biting into a savory cake of any kind. By using the classic combination of seasonings like Old Bay, dried thyme, and fresh garlic mixed with the holy trinity (celery, bell peppers, and onions), you are left with what seems like the perfect crab cake, just without the crab.

 This recipe is nut free and can be soy free.

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MAKES 16 CAKES (FOr 8 cakes, Halve everything)

INGREDIENTS

2 and 1/2 cups artichoke hearts, drained but not squeezed (glass jarred or canned)

1/4 cup green onions, sliced thinly

1/2 cup sweet onion, minced

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or homemade)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon vegan sugar 

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

2 tablespoon chopped parsley

1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced

1/4 cup green bell pepper, minced

1/4 cup celery, minced

3 tablespoons vegan mayo (use soy-free mayo if need be)

1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed, drained and mashed (canned or home-cooked)

1 teaspoons dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoons paprika

LET'S GET STARTED

Once you have gathered all of your ingredients and prepped all of the veggies and herbs, combine everything into a large bowl and mix well. Here a few tips to making this mixture perfect. (Shout out to my girl @Purely_Rose for helping me get all these tips figured out!)

1) When mashing the chickpeas, use a potato masher or a fork. Do not over mash or you will end up with hummus. No way, Jose! Keep the texture thick and somewhat chunky. This mash will give the cake some body while also helping to keep it together.

2) When slicing the artichokes, cut them long ways so that you are going in grain with the fibers. This will give you the stringy texture similar to crab meat. 

3) When straining the artichoke hearts, do no rinse or squeeze them. You want all of the juice inside of them to give the mixture moisture, helping it all stick together. 

4) Mix well and let it sit. I would recommend after mixing this mixture well to let it sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour (or overnight) so that all of the juices absorb into the breadcrumbs. This allows everything to combine thoroughly and will help prevent the cakes from falling apart. 

 

I like to assemble all of the ingredients one at a time so I can see everything and make sure I'm not missing anything. It also looks really cool, which is a plus. 

I like to assemble all of the ingredients one at a time so I can see everything and make sure I'm not missing anything. It also looks really cool, which is a plus. 

MIX AND SCOOP:

One everything is mixed thoroughly, use an ice cream scoop to scoop the mixture into mounds on either a cutting board or clean counter top. I recommend an ice cream scoop with a dispenser latch (or whatever you call it!). This is the best thing to use for measuring mixtures like this and especially for baking. It helps to execute recipes easily and ensures that size will be consistent. (I have a set of three different sizes y'all!) When filling the scoop, make sure to pack it full and then scrape the top off to an even level, like you would with a cup of flour. This ensures that they are all the same size and makes the perfect size cake for an individual serving.

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COATING

1 and 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon old bay

1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper

(1/2 cup of olive oil if baking)

SHAPE

Ok, now you need to form these mounds of mixture into cakes. I suggest wetting your hands first with a splash of water so the mixture doesn't stick. Next, roll the mound with both of your hands and squeeze it into a tight ball. Next, press as many breadcrumbs as you can on the exterior of the ball and begin to shape it into a cake, flattening it slightly. You can (and should) apply more breadcrumbs as you go along to make sure you are sticking a good amount on the exterior. This gives the happy crab cakes a super crunchy and crispy exterior, which if you're like me, you live for. Once shaped, set them aside until they are ready to be fried or baked. These can be wrapped and kept in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze them. (I wrap them individually when freezing to save space.) If you are making these for a party, I would recommend making them smaller, so that they are bite size. (Think slightly smaller than a golf ball.) 

TIME TO FRY

You will need:

One large cast iron skillet (or deep fryer)

2 cups vegetable oil (or necessary amount for fryer/fry daddy)

If you are using a skillet, you will need to cook the cakes on each side for 2-3 minutes so that they are fried all around, as they are not being deep fried. Make sure not to cook more than 3 at a time, even in a large pan, as you want them to not be crowded and you don't want to overwhelm the hot oil. It can be finicky!

Once the oil is heated to 350 degrees F you can begin to fry. I recommend using a thermometer or at least test the oil with a few breadcrumbs to make sure it's good and ready. If the oil is not hot enough, the cake will take too long to cook and will become super greasy. Using a thin spatula, gently place the cake in the oil and fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Then flip the cake gently with the spatula and brown on the other side. If you are using a deep fryer, it should be set at 350 F as well. Gently place the cakes in the basket, and fry the whole cake submerged in oil until golden brown all around, about 4-5 minutes.

Place fried cakes on a plate with a paper towel to absorb excess oil before serving.

OR BAKE

Ok, I'm not going to lie; these are way better fried. But I get it- sometimes you want the healthier option. So if you would like to bake them, be my guest. But you will need to incorporate the breadcrumbs with some olive oil to give them some richness and flavor since they are not being fried. (My friend Isa Chandra taught me this little trick. Thanks Isa!). Once the cakes are formed, place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake them for 25 minutes. Flip them with a thin spatula and bake them for another 25-35 minutes until they reach your desired crispiness. If they feel too soft to pick up, cook them longer. They should hold their shape once they are thoroughly cooked while still being delicate inside. These are best served immediately and storing them in the fridge after they are baked dries them out, so be aware of that. Or better yet, just don't do it. (wink)

 

REMOULADE (creole dipping sauce)

Now, I know this one looks like a doozy but it's really good! I wanted to combine some of the classic ingredients to the sauce like celery, garlic, and mustard while adding some capers for depth of flavor and horseradish for a slight kick. You'll see the other usual suspects that I love to use like lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and onion powder. Now you can certainly eat these cakes by themselves or with a more simple dressing like vegan mayo mixed with any freshly chopped herb and a splash of lemon juice. But you should give this a go if you want to be cool like me. You can make this a few days in advance and it will keep in fridge for up to a week.

MIX INTO A LARGE BOWL

1 cup vegan mayo (use soy free if need be)

2 teaspoon capers, chopped

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast

2 teaspoons horseradish

2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Sriracha (or similar hot sauce)

3 teaspoons celery, minced

1 and 1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 tsp sugar

2 tablespoon parsley, chopped fine

2 teaspoon shallots, minced

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for a few hours to let all of the flavors marry for best results.

PLATING

Serve these bad boys immediately! Drizzle the remoulade on top and garnish with sliced green onions, freshly chopped parsley, and a wedge of lemon to squeeze on top. I sprinkled some baby marigold petals on mine for their citrusy flavor and because I have an obsession with edible flowers. Fresh herbs will work too! If you notice below, I dusted some paprika on top of the sauce for an extra pop of color, which is optional. 

OPTIONS

You can make these a few days before you eat them and just store them tightly covered in the fridge. Just fry them up when you are ready to serve. You can also freeze them but be aware that they need to defrost before frying or they might crack...it happened to me!

These cakes work really well in wraps or on top of salads. You can also make them bite sized for parties or events (I've done this for a small wedding and it was perfect).  

I truly hope that you enjoy this recipe. Please let me know what you think and remember to take pictures and tag me on Instagram. I wanna see what you come up with! 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Corn Chowder

Cashew-macadamia cream based corn chowder loaded with fresh corn kernels, russet potato chunks, and the perfect combination of vegetables and spices. All topped with a smoky pan-fried tempeh crumble, crisp green onions, and diced sweet bell pepper. 

(vegan, soy free, and gluten free option)  

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Here's the key to really good soup: the stock. 

It provides the backbone of the soup which with ultimately gives it depth of flavor and a richness that just plain water won't do. In a pinch, I'll use the packaged store-bought, in particular the mushroom. However, home-made fresh stock is a game changer, especially for corn chowder.

Often times people just throw away the corn cob which is a huge mistake. Why? Because the cob is full of delicious and milky flavor. After you try this recipe, you'll understand exactly why. I've included my topping of pan fried smoky tempeh in the recipe, so you can try it as a garnish. Honestly, the dish doesn't need it but it sure is a nice addition. The smoky, salty and chewy texture combined with the sweet and creamy chowder plays very nicely together. Ok, I'll stop rambling so you can get started and try some for yourself! 

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corn chowder

makes 14 - 15 servings or half in size for 7-8, gluten-free

 

INGREDIENTS

16 cups water

1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts

1/2 cup raw cashew nuts

2 cups water (for soaking nuts / cream) 

4 large bay leaves

10 cups fresh corn (about 10 ears. Do your best to source non-gmo and organic)

6 cups chopped vidalia or yellow onion (4 large onions)

1 and 1/2 cups of fresh garlic (about 20 to 25 cloves) or 1 cup minced

3/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 cup chopped celery (about 3 ribs)

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced

1 and 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced

1/2 cup all purpose flour (for gluten free folks, use chickpea flour or no flour at all. This will change the texture slightly.)

2 teaspoons salt (plus 1 teaspoon at the end, and to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus some for garnishing)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 cups russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 cups, covered in water)

Cayenne pepper (a pinch or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoons)

1 cup freshly chopped parsley

1 to 2 cups sliced spring onion

Tempeh Crumble (optional, see recipe and ingredients below)

 

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STOCK

Start by shaving your fresh corn kernels off the cobs. Shave 10 ears of corn with a serrated knife directly into a bowl so that the kernels don't go everywhere. Set the bowl of fresh corn aside. In a large stockpot, bring 16 cups of water with a dash of salt to boil. Then add 8 corn cobs and 4 large bay leaves to the water. Once this comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. This will give you time to prep the rest of the ingredients, which you will then add to this stock. 

HEAVY CREAM

If you don't have a high speed blender, you will need to soak your nuts so that they become smooth and creamy. To do this, place your macadamia nuts and cashews in a bowl with 2 cups of water and let this soak in the fridge overnight or for at least 6 hours. (Or however long it takes to make them soft enough to blend until smooth, you know your blender better than I!) If you have a high speed blender, go ahead and combine the nuts and water in a bowl and set aside. 

VEGETABLE PREP

Peel and chop two large russet potatoes. Dice them into small squares and place them in a bowl. Cover them with water so they don't brown. Next, chop two large onions and mince 1 and 1/2 cups (about 20 cloves) of fresh garlic cloves. To make this easier, and to release all of the flavor, crush the cloves with the side of your knife before chopping. Mince the garlic into tiny pieces. Set aside. Next, dice your green and red bell peppers, as well as your celery into small squares. Set aside. Next, finely chop fresh thyme leaves until you have 1 and 1/2 tablespoons and, you guessed it, set aside. Lastly, collect all of the other ingredients needed so that you are ready to go: nutritional yeast, white flour, turmeric, black pepper, sea salt, and cayenne. 

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SAUTÉ

In a large cast iron skillet (or any large pan) on medium heat, sauté the minced garlic, chopped onion, and nutritional yeast with 3/4 cup of olive oil. Cook until everything is caramelized, about 7 minutes. Next, add your chopped bell peppers and celery. Cook for another 5.  Next, add the fresh thyme. Cook for 3 minutes. Now, add your spices: turmeric, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir well and cook for 5 more minutes. Lastly, add your flour and cook for 4-5 more minutes. The mixture should be thick at this point. Once done, set aside until stock is ready. 

STRAIN AND INCORPORATE

Once the stock is done (at 45 minutes- when your timer goes off ;) strain out the cobs and bay leaves using tongs (or a large spoon), discarding them. Next, add your sautéed mixture into the stock and bring it to a boil. Next, add your potatoes and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Next add the corn to the pot and cook for 7 minutes, until the corn is cooked and tender. Now time for the heavy cream. And to make the chowder nice and smooth, you are going to blend some of the soup with your heavy cream before adding. Place your soaked nuts and water water mixture into your blender and add 2 cups of the hot soup into the blender as well (You want lots of chunks and pieces so that they the creamy mixture is nice and thick.) Blend on high for 1-2 minutes, until the nuts are completely smooth. Slowly pour this mixture into the pot and stir well. 

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Cook the soup for another 5-7 minutes to make sure the cream is thoroughly incorporated and happy. For the final seasonings, I recommend adding 1 more teaspoon of sea salt, stirring well to incorporate. (Tip: You can try the soup before doing so and choose to add it or not. You may also feel that you should add more salt than this final teaspoon, which is just fine! I just want you to know that I personally thinks it needs one more teaspoon of salt to be perfect. That's just me though.) For the last and final touch, I recommend adding a pinch to 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. This little addition will give the chowder a subtle kick without making it spicy. Now, for you spicy kids like me, I recommend adding 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne. This makes the soup pleasantly spicy, which I just adore. 

Add your garnishes and serve hot. 

FOR YOUR GARNISHES

GREEN ONION: Slice two to three fresh green onions stalks, I like to use the middle sections, so chop off the very top and the majority of the white (you can save this for stocks, use for kimchee, or throw into stir fries). Sprinkle on top!

BELL PEPPER: Dice one bell pepper of your choice (ideally red or orange) into thin squares. Sprinkle on top!

FRESH BLACK PEPPER: I only use freshly ground black pepper for garnishes. You should do the same. :) 

PARSLEY: I just love throwing some fresh chopped parsley on top for a pop of color and a touch of fresh flavor

SMOKEY TEMPEH CRUMBLE: (If you are soy free, you'll want to skip this step. Sorry kids!)

I know this recipe adds an extra step to the recipe which is the last thing you'll want to do at the end of cooking a chowder. And that's totally cool. But a handy tip I always follow with soups and stews is making them the day before. That way you can prep the garnishes nice and fresh while you're heating up the pot.

HERE'S HOW TO MAKE IT

1 (one) 8 oz block of original tempeh

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons tamari

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon liquid smoke 

Start by whisking together the marinade. Mix the olive oil, tamari, nutritional yeast, and liquid smoke in a bowl and set aside. Next, chop your tempeh into thin strips to create the most surface area out of the block. This will allow the tempeh to crisp up nicely. Next, using a cast iron skillet, heat the pan on medium heat and grease the bottom with non-stick spray or oil. Next, throw in half of the tempeh as to not crowd the pan and drizzle half of the whisked marinade on top of the tempeh. Spread the pieces around and brown each side until crisp. Once you are done, chop the tempeh up for your soup. I cut the strips into really thin slices, trying to keep them long for visual presentation. But you can certainly chop it up any way you see fit. I will warn you, the tempeh can be pretty delicate to work with, but you are going for a crumble here, not perfectly shaped pieces. It's really no biggie if this doesn't look amazing. 

 

options

You can serve this soup chilled as well. it's actually really quite good this way! I find that you can taste certain flavors better when served cold (and not piping hot). This chowder is a good example.

You should absolutely make this soup a day in advance. As mentioned before, it will allow the flavors to marry and become better the next day. You could also keep this soup covered in the fridge for a few days and it will still be delicious.

Pour this soup in to a thermos and take it wherever you may go. For a picnic for two, just bring two bowls, two spoons, and two napkins and you're set. 

This soup would be delicious served with a scoop of rice or a pile of quinoa to make it more of an entrée. Add all of the fun toppings and you've got a complete and beautiful meal.