Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hot Crab Dip

October is a hectic time for everyone.  There are always a ton of things to do in the evenings and weekends… sports, movies, festivals, meetings and get-togethers.  Each day actually feels short on hours!  So I thought I would share a super-easy recipe my mother passed down to me.  I think she got it from a Kraft Foods recipe book.  The book has long since disappeared but this Hot Crab Dip remains one of our favorite appetizers even after 30 some years:

8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
6.5 ounce can flaked crabmeat
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
½ teaspoon cream-style horseradish
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Blend together all ingredients except the almonds.  Spoon into over-proof dish and sprinkle with almonds.  Bake for 15 minutes.

I usually use Neufchatel instead of regular cream cheese and bake it in a 7.5” ceramic quiche pan.  It fits perfectly and is a pretty serving dish.  Even at room temperature, the cream cheese can be rather dense to mix, but I just use an old-fashioned wood spoon and some muscle.

Sometimes crab is too delicate for our mood, so I’ve adapted the recipe for a 5-6 ounce can of water-packed tuna.  It doesn’t matter if you like albacore or regular tuna, either works great.  When using tuna, I add 1 tablespoon of water drained from the tuna can and eliminate the 1 tablespoon of milk.  Lately, I’ve also been adding garlic powder, to taste.

I use 1-2 teaspoons of horseradish instead of ½ teaspoon and substitute walnuts for almonds.  You do not need to toast the walnuts; they have enough flavor as is.  I add salt and pepper, to taste, to the cream cheese mixture but then also sprinkle more pepper (not salt) over the dip before adding nuts.

The whole dish is much meatier and fishier… if that makes sense.  And Walter and I often eat it as our main entrée with sliced cucumbers and apples, carrot and celery sticks, crackers and salad or olives on the side.  It’s a tasty, slightly retro meal.

Whether made with crab or tuna, this dip holds up well to reheating.  You can make it in the morning, or even the day before, (yes, bake it in advance) and just heat it up in the microwave when you are ready to eat.  Easy.  So you can fun in the kitchen... and out!

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