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A crabby household isn't bad

Recipe gives family a crab fix

Recipe gives family a crab fix

September 23, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

CLEAR SPRING - Kim Brennan's Cream of Crab Soup recipe was created as a fix for the Brennan household's incessant cravings for crab.

"If you like crab, you can eat crab for dessert, and my husband is one of those," said Brennan, 38, of Clear Spring.

Her husband, Chuck, and their 9-year-old son, Todd, are the crab lovers, and they love mommy's Cream of Crab Soup.

Brennan pieced together this recipe from the volumes of cookbooks she collects and houses in her kitchen. The soup's character comes from the butter-cream-flour base, a blend of Old Bay, dry mustard and parsley, and a touch of sherry.

It's a malleable recipe, but only to a degree.

Chicken broth can be incorporated. You also can use imitation crab instead of the real thing - but never canned crab meat.

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"(Canned crab) kind of tastes like the can," she said.

Add ham or bacon to the Cream of Crab Soup and you risk a venture toward crab chowder territory.

Add too much Old Bay and you've committed another violation - salty soup.

Even if you follow Brennan's recipe to the "T," that could lead to disappointment.

"You can't just follow the exact recipe and know that it's going to taste the same," Brennan said. "Sometimes your crabmeat might be a little salty."

"You have to taste as you go," she said.

Brennan, who is a hairstylist by trade, talked with The Herald-Mail about crab and general cooking. We met in her kitchen, where the Food Network was playing on a small flat-screen TV and a fresh-baked apple cake sat nearby. For good measure, we tasted the Cream of Crab Soup and had some Cheesy Crab Dip.

Q: So what kinds of things would you pair with the crab soup? Can it stand on its own as the main course?

A: It could be the main course, it could go with a salad, it could be an appetizer or (go) with a steak or crab imperial.

Q: That wouldn't be too much crab? Crab overload?

A: Not in this house.

Q: What kind of wine would you serve with this?

A: White, Chablis. Something dry like a Riesling.

Q: So, tell me about this crab dip.

A: It's great for entertaining. You can add more cream cheese to make it go further. You can put in less for a smaller group.

Q: How'd you come up with the recipe?

A: You know when you go to a restaurant, and you try things and you come home and try to make it better.

Q: So kind of like the crab soup, you pieced this together from several recipes? How many cookbooks would you say you own?

A: Oh, I don't know. A lot. There are some of them there (points to three shelves full of cookbooks in a bookcase in her kitchen). I'd have to say 100 plus.

Q: You couldn't have gone through all the recipes.

A: Oh, no. I just like to look through them to get ideas. I put Post-it notes on the recipes I like. Amish cookbooks are the best for everyday cooking. Southern Living is good for special things. ... Some people collect baskets. I collect cookbooks.

Q: You mentioned that you and your husband both work. When do you find time?

A: I cook on my days off. I probably enjoy it as much as I (enjoy doing) hair.

Q: What are some other things you like to cook?

A: Desserts are my favorite. Red velvet, apple cake. (We both glance at the apple cake on the counter.) That will be gone in a day.

Cheesy Crab Dip

3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

8 ounces sour cream

8 ounces shredded Colby Jack cheese or Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Juice from half a lemon

1 teaspoon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay

Dash of garlic powder

1 tablespoon of sherry

1 pound of claw or backfin crabmeat

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except crabmeat, stirring until well blended. Gently fold in crabmeat. Pour mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. For cheesier dip, add additional cheese to the top and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Cook's note: This also can be made in a slow cooker. Just put all ingredients into slow cooker except crabmeat. Heat on low until heated through. Gently fold in crabmeat and heat about 30 minutes longer.

- Courtesy of Kim Brennan

Cream of Crab Soup

6 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Old Bay

1 tablespoon dry mustard

4 to 5 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 quart half-and-half

1 pint heavy cream

2 tablespoons sherry or white wine

2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked and shells removed

In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, melt butter and add onions, Old Bay and mustard. Cook over low heat until onions are transparent, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add flour. Stir until flour is blended and there are no lumps. Add salt and pepper. Gently add half-and-half and cream, stirring constantly until blended. Return to low heat and cook until thick, stirring frequently. Add crabmeat and stir through, just until crab is blended, making sure not to break the big lumps. Continue to cook another 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in sherry and parsley just before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 6-ounce servings.

-Recipes courtesy of Kim Brennan

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