I had a dinner party. At this party I served goat cheese jalapeño poppers as the appetizer, followed by grits gratin with arugula and white beans, and crab cakes.
Here is the link to the popper recipe. I had some left over filling, which I happily ate on toast the next morning. The other two recipes are both adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.
Grits Gratin with Arugula and White Beans (serves 6):
- 1/2 cup milk
- generous amount coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 cup grits
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 4 cups arugula
- 1 cup cooked white beans
- ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
Combine the milk with 2 cups of water and a large pinch of salt and the pepper in a saucepan. Bring almost to a boil, then add the grits in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Turn the heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until the mixture is thick. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the thickness is like that of oatmeal. Turn out into a buttered loaf pan and let sit for at least 10 minutes, as long as it takes to become firm. Remove and cut into slices.
Saute the garlic in 2 tbsp oil. Add sugar, and cook until the garlic is soft. Turn off the heat and add arugula and beans. Toss until wilted, mix in the salt and pepper. Spread on an oiled baking pan and drizzle with vinegar. Lay slices of grits on top, drizzle with remaining oil, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400* F until the topping is golden.
Cajun Style Crab Cakes (4-6 servings):
- 1 lb lump crab meat
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- salt (be sparing, most cajun seasoning has salt in it)
- ground black pepper
- cajun seasoning, e.g. Tony Chachere’s, to taste
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs, or more as needed
- 1 cup flour, for dredging
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp butter
Mix all ingredients well. If consistency is not right for forming a patty, add more egg and/or breadcrumbs. Make cakes about 1 inch thick. Heat butter and oil together in a skillet. Dredge crab cakes in flour, then cook, turning once, until golden on both sides.