Today is the fourth week of the fabulous Holiday Food Fest. Lovely Amy of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free is hosting the overall event and also hosting this week. Her theme is Cocktails, Mocktails, and Appetizers. You can see Amy’s delightful mocktail recipe, Chocolate Coffee “Martinis” and all the entries here. (I’ll be hosting next week … Holiday Dishes—sides, mains, soups … anything goes.) Let’s first focus on an appetizer. Two words—Crab Ball. Two ingredients—crabmeat and cream cheese. Could it get any simpler than that? This appetizer will have your guests thinking you are a culinary genius. They’ll spread some of your crab ball on a cracker, wax poetic about how delicious it is, and then quiz you on the ingredients. They’ll expect a long list and when you tell them honestly that it’s just equal parts crabmeat and cream cheese, they will think you are holding out on them. Seriously. No matter. Make a crab ball and serve it with complementary crackers and you’ll be the star host. Now for the cocktail part, hand your guest a glass of Reindeer Antlers “spiked” holiday punch to enjoy with the crab ball and suddenly you’re not just the star host, but a rock star caliber host—no kidding. Yes, you’re welcome. Don’t bother with mailing my invitation for your holiday open house … just shoot me an email with the time and the date. I’ll be there to witness and share in your elevation to greatness!
8 ounces crabmeat
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
paprika or Old Bay seasoning, optional
Mix crabmeat and cream cheese with clean hands (and even plastic-gloved, if you prefer) hands. You’ll want to mix with your hands so you can feel and then remove any bits of cartilage left in the crabmeat. As I’ve shared before (regarding the Crab Casserole), I never buy the most expensive crabmeat from the local seafood dealer. So, there’s always a small amount of shell and cartilage to be removed. It’s no big deal and well worth the savings to me.
Shape mixture into a ball and serve immediately or place in container in refrigerator until serving time. Serve the crab ball with crackers that are complimentary in flavor. (The cracker flavor should not be so strong that it competes with the flavors of the crab ball.)
Shirley’s Notes: If you want to add some color and a bit of spiciness, you can sprinkle a bit of paprika or Old Bay seasoning on the crab ball or even add a dash in the crab ball when mixing.
While any serving dish will work, I often serve my crab ball in a special crab dish, so that guests are instantly aware that crab is involved. We have had guests who are allergic to shellfish, so it’s nice to keep these folks safe with that visual cue.
Before going gluten free, my favorite cracker to serve with crab ball was Keebler Townhouse crackers. Elves made them so they seemed especially appropriate for the holidays. Unfortunately these elves have not expanded their Townhouse line of crackers to include a gluten-free version. (I’ll keep waiting on that.) My current favorite gluten-free crackers to eat with crab ball are Blue Diamond hazelnut or pecan crackers. These don’t have a buttery texture like Townhouse crackers (quite the opposite actually), but their flavors do complement the crab ball texture.
For large parties, I mix together one pound of crabmeat and one pound of cream cheese (two blocks), and then divide into two crab balls, one of which I keep in the refrigerator. I stay vigilant for that moment when the first crab ball is fast disappearing and guests are getting that panicky look on their faces … anxious that the person standing next to them might get the last bite (a stampede for that last bite seems to be a real possibility). Not to worry. With my hostess finesse, I slip through the mass of guests around the last dollop of crab ball and quietly place the second crab ball onto the serving dish. Ah, love and peace reign once again.
Not just gf, but gfe!
This post is also linked to What can I eat that’s gluten free? at The Gluten-Free Homemaker, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed with Grace, Friday Foodie Fix–Super Bowl Party Foods and Friday Foodie Fix–Crab at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.
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