Monday, May 21, 2007

Crab Month Continues

For this week's installment, I kept the crabs simple but surrounded them with a few little goodies.

Goodie No. 1 is invisible to the eye, but it made its presence known. My parents recently traveled to Italy, the lucky ducks, and, in Amalfi (my ancestral hometown -- one of them, at least), my mom bought Margy and me a big ol' bottle of our beloved limoncello. Of course, Italian flight officials callously snatched it from her before she boarded a plane to Rome. They were supposedly invoking the no-liquids rule, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the limoncello was not screened for explosive material -- beyond grain alcohol, that is... and we all know what that screening process is like.

So, Mom gave me the next best thing: actual Italian lemons. Big, fat, knobby lemons whose juice is sweet as candy but still carries a lovely tartness. Seems she had offered yummy cookies to their chambermaid and in return was presented with these fresh Amalfitano delights. Five lemons made it home, and I got two of them. The pressure to use them well was enormous.

With the juice of one, I made a poached shrimp dish from a recipe by Marcella Hazan. I boiled unpeeled shrimp in water perfumed with vegetables and a drop of vinegar, then peeled the cooked shrimp and marinated them, still warm, in a two-to-one mixture of good olive oil and (great) lemon juice. I used the same oil-lemon potion to dress purple baby artichokes, which I'd steamed and grilled briefly.

I also grilled the soft-shell crabs, brushed with chive butter that included zest from the Italian lemon. Those legs got nice and crispy!

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