Surf and Turf at Home - Best Dinner Ever!

My husband and I love the Oceanaire restaurant in downtown Minneapolis.  We'll admit we thought it was better (food and atmosphere) in it's old location but I'm sure the current location is better for business.  People actually know it exists now.

We are on their mailing list. Last week we received an email that they were doing a three course special dinner that included a choice of Lobster Bisque or Caesar Salad, and entree of a 6 ounce Filet Mignon and a Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and then either cheesecake or key lime pie for dessert, all for $49.  Sign us up!  Then just a few days later we got another email from them offering us a free Baked Alaska dessert with purchase of two entrees.  Now we had to go right?  So I made the reservations.


Then I thought, wait, I can make that at home.  We won't have to drive to Minneapolis and pay to park.  We'll probably save $100 or more since we'll just pull a bottle of wine out of the cellar.  And, I recently cleaned out my recipe closet (yes I have enough cookbooks and recipes cut out of magazines to almost fill a closet!) and found a recipe for Oceanaire Crab Cakes.  I think it's time to try them at home!

Years ago, back when Oceanaire was in the old location, we went to a Kim Crawford wine pairing dinner there.  We talked the chef at the time into giving us the recipe for the crab cakes.  I kept the recipe, but never made the crab cakes.  I have no idea why. We love crab cakes and I've made many different ones over the years, just never these. So it was definitely time!

I've also never made baked Alaska.  Time for that too!  I found an Alton Brown recipe and adapted it for two. He makes baked Alaska for a party, in a 13x9 pan!  We just wanted two servings.  But that's dessert, let's start with dinner!

The steaks were easy, I've made them this way for years and just love them.  I give Ina Garten the credit. I crust the steaks in salt and pepper, sear them on all sides in an oven-proof pan (I love my Lodge cast iron) and then top each with a pat of butter and stick them in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes.  We like our steaks medium, 145-150 degrees in the middle.


I had mixed up the crab cakes earlier in the day so they could chill in the frig. I obviously never even read the recipe before. Why? Well there were ingredients in the ingredient list that were never used in the directions and ingredients in the ingredient list that were different in the instructions. No worries, I'll wing it!



I made a half batch. According to the recipe a full batch makes four 5-ounce crab cakes. I didn't think we needed four so I cut things in half.

The crab is placed in a bowl and set aside.


In a separate bowl you mix the wet ingredients and seasonings, egg, mayonnaise, mustard (I'll come back to that), Old Bay seasoning, onion and parsley.  The ingredient list called for "Dijon mustard." To me that's a prepared mustard, not a dry mustard.  In the directions you are told to add the "dry mustard."  I used dry. The aroma was amazing. Was it the Old Bay? Or the mustard? I don't know but this smelled good!



"One slice" of bread is diced and placed on top of the crab. How big of a slice? I have no idea. I cut what I would call a normal slice out of a loaf of sourdough bread I bought that morning at Farmer's Market and used that.

Pour the wet ingredients over the crab/bread mixture and gently mix to combine them.  But wait.  There were breadcrumbs in the ingredient list. There was nothing in the directions about how or when to use them.  Do you make the cakes then roll them in the breadcrumbs? Do you mix them in?



The mix seemed very wet so I knew the breadcrumbs were needed. I mixed them in!



After this had been in the frig for a couple hours, I used a scoop to make the crab cakes.  I got six 2+ ounce crab cakes out of the half batch.



The crab cakes go under the broiler for 7-8 minutes and come out beautiful!



I drizzled a little habanero aioli I got at San Pedro Cafe over them.

I added a little fresh green salad, dressed with the vinaigrette from San Pedro Cafe (love that place).



The steak, amazing as usual.  But the crab cakes. OH.MY.GOD are these good.  I'm throwing away all other crab cake recipes.These are the best crab cakes I have ever had and they tasted every bit as good as the ones at the restaurant.  And we didn't have to drive to Minneapolis and pay for parking to get them!  There is so little filler the crab flavor comes through.  There's a little crunch on the top then that creamy filling, and the kick of the aioli was perfect on top!  AND, because the recipe made 6 we had some left over for breakfast the next day!  I'm IN LOVE with these crab cakes!

The recipe for the crab cakes (how I did them!) is below.

Now on to dessert!  I've never made baked Alaska before.  It's not what I would call a go-to dessert when it's on the menu.  At Oceanaire it's the show we really like.  They douse the dessert in booze and light it on fire right at the table!  But hey, we decided we were going to have our Oceanaire dinner at home so baked Alaska was going to be made.

After a little Googling I found an Alton Brown recipe that seemed easy enough, and very few of his recipes fail.  Now Alton made baked Alaska for a CROWD!  He makes it in two 13x9 pans! So some scaling would be required.  Here is a link to a video of him making it.  Check out his torch!

Alton Brown's Baked Alaska

Well before dinner I had started the base of ice cream and cake.  It's really pretty easy, line a vessel the size you like with plastic wrap and fill it with softened ice cream.  I chose caramel ice cream, Dave wanted vanilla.




Alton Brown has you make a cake. I didn't want to make a cake for two little servings. I had some store purchased pound  cake in the freezer. I bought it for a project where I thought I was going to carve it into the shape of a shoe. I decided to make the shoe out of fondant and just threw the cake in the freezer.  This was a good way to use it up.




Once the vessel is full of ice cream, place a piece of cake on the top and stick the whole thing back in the freezer for an hour or so.

When you're ready, make the meringue. This is also pretty easy, whip up some egg whites with vanilla and a little salt.  Cook up some sugar, corn syrup and water to a temperature of 240 F then slowly add this to the egg whites while whipping.




Pull the ice cream out of the cups and place them cake side down on a heat proof plate.  I then piped the meringue around the ice cream.




Finally, the fun part, torch it!  I don't have (nor do I need) the size torch used by Alton Brown, but we do have a very nice torch that worked just fine!




Are these beautiful or what?!  I made baked Alaska!

I would make these differently next time. I didn't care for the cake AT ALL. I didn't eat it. Next time I may do a graham cracker or Oreo crust or gingersnaps! Gingersnaps would be awesome!  I also put WAY too much meringue on them.  Well, at least for me.  Dave cleaned his plate, I ate the nicely caramelized bits and left the rest.  So I'll use a smaller piping tip next time!  It was fun. It was yummy!  We'll definitely do this again. Maybe we'll have some friends over next time.
 
 "Oceanaire" Crab Cakes

Makes four 5-ounce cakes

1 pound crab meat, picked over for shells
2 eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 slices fresh bread, diced

Place crab meat in a mixing bowl and set aside.
In another small bowl, place the eggs mayonnaise, dry mustard, Old Bay, onion and parsley. Mix well.
Scatter the diced bread on top of the crab meat.  Pour the egg mixture over the top. Gently toss or fold ingredients together, taking care not to break p the lumps of crab meat. Fold in the breadcrumbs.
Form the mixture into mounded, round balls, about three inches in diameter and two inches thick. Do not pack the batter too firmly.  The cakes should be as loose as possible, yet still hold their shape.
Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Place the crab cakes on a pan and brush with a little melted butter.  Slip the cakes under the broiler and brown until nicely browned, about 5-7 minutes.

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