Sunday, January 20, 2013

"I'm making crabby snacks and homemades!"

As I do every year in January, I have been scrambling to see as many Golden Globes and Oscar nominees as I can before the awards shows and before winter break is over and I have to return to the grind. I'm doing pretty well, having seen eight of the nine films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. The one I saw most recently was Silver Linings Playbook, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Interestingly, all four of the main characters were nominated for acting Oscars as well, including Jackie Weaver (previously nominated for her deliciously malicious turn in Animal Kingdom). 

Weaver plays a much more sympathetic character in Silver Linings Playbook, as the sweet, well-meaning mother who is always trying in vain to get her son (Bradley Cooper) and his father (Robert DeNiro) to see eye-to-eye. The only place they come close to connecting is in front of the television, rooting for their beloved Philadelphia Eagles. And every time they play, the mother encourages Bradley Cooper's character to stay and watch by enticing him with her "crabby snacks and homemades!"

Naturally, I was intrigued about what these tasty treats might be, so I Googled them when I got home, and some helpful librarian on a random message board cited the relevant passage from the novel on which the movie is based. Crabby Snacks, as it turns out, are toasted English muffins topped with a crab and cheese spread mixture (not Velveeta, but like the inside of a holiday cheese ball...very 1970's chic), baked until melted and bubbly and then cut into bite-sized pieces.

The book does not mention "homemades" per se, but it does describes the mother making her special "homemade" three-meat pizzas (ground beef, sausage, and chicken). So that's probably what the line refers to. However, two other reasonable theories that I garnered from online discussions include:
1) Either she's making several homemade dishes for game day, or
2) It refers to homemade noodles that many Italian families (especially in Philly and South Jersey) make on Sundays, and which would certainly go well with that homemade braciole she makes in the movie.


As today was a big day for the football fan at my house (though her beloved Patriots lost their bid for the Superbowl...boo hiss), I decided to try my hand at the Crabby Snacks. And though I did not make either meaty pizzas or braciole with noodles, I did make a wonderful Italian wedding soup, with homemade meatballs. I have two comments on the recipe below, which was inspired by Ina Garten's version.

First of all, though escarole is traditional, I added kale to the soup, because I had it on hand (isn't it beautiful?). Chard or fresh spinach would have been fine, too--whatever you've got. Secondly, though tiny dried pasta is typical, I used tortellini because it would hold up better in the leftovers, and because it might help to convince my roommate that soup can be hearty "real food." Tee hee.

Crabby Snacks
(Source: adapted from a post on LTH Forum)

6 English muffins, split
1 (5 or 6 oz.) jar cheese spread, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
a few shakes hot sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (or 2) tablespoon(s) freshly chopped parsley
1 (6 or 7 oz.) can crabmeat, drained, flaked

*I also added a can of baby shrimp, optional
sliced green onions and/or tomatoes for garnish, if desired

Heat oven to 350°. Arrange split muffins, cut side up, on a baking pan lined with foil. Toast for a few minutes in the oven while it's preheating until the muffins start to turn golden around the edges.


In a medium bowl, mash the cheese spread with butter, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, onion powder, granulated garlic, pepper, and parsley. Stir in the crabmeat (and baby shrimp, if using). Spread evenly over the split, toasted muffins.

Return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Cut into quarters and serve warm, garnished with green onions and/or diced tomatoes, if desired.


Makes 48 crabby bites.


Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup
(Source: inspired by Ina Garten, via
Food Network)

For the soup:
two tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chicken soup base
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt, to taste

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
2 links Italian sausage (scant half pound?)
1/2 cup Italian herb bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan (or Romano or Asiago), plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg
2 tablespoons chicken fat or olive oil

1/4 cup whole milk
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 lb. package frozen tortellini (or one cup small dry pasta, such as cavatelli, acini di pepe, pastina, or orzo)
half a large bunch of fresh kale, stems removed and chopped (=several cups, chopped)


In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the onion, carrots and celery until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Add the minced garlic and white wine and cook for another couple of minutes. Put this veggie mixture into the crock pot along with the chicken stock and the rest of the herbs and seasonings for the soup. Cook on high for two or three hours (or four to six on low).

Meanwhile, using gentle hands, mix together all of the ingredients for the meatballs and use a cookie scoop to form about 40 on a Silpat- or parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake the meatballs at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until lightly browned. Reserve until the soup has cooked long enough for the carrots to be just shy of completely tender. Then remove the bay leaves, add the frozen tortellini, and continue cooking on high for another 30 minutes or so, until the pasta is al dente. Stir in the meatballs and the chopped kale and cook for a few more minutes, just until the kale has wilted and the meatballs have heated through.

Serve with a garnish of grated Parmesan (or hard Italian cheese of your choice).


 

4 comments:

Anne Wright said...

Hi Joy,
While I was googling crabby melts came upon your blog. Wanted to let you know that Homemades refers to homemade macaroni. Many Italian families especially in Philadelphia and South Jersey make pasta on Sundays. And there is nothing better!
Anne

Joy Bugaloo said...

Excellent info, Anne! I have edited my post accordingly. Thanks!
--Gina

Alison said...

Crabby snacks are my family's official traditional holiday appetizer! Except we call them crabmeat puffs, and they are deliiiish. :)

K Radwill said...

Thanks for the good info on your recipe. I also enjoy baking and cooking, I recently tried a new recipe for macaroons