Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Crab Remoulade Cheesecake

Crab Remoulade Cheesecake

I love a savory cheesecake. Possibly the most talked about recipe in my book Southern Snacks has been the Country Ham Cheesecake. I even made it on the Hallmark Channel! I find the savory cheesecake to be the perfect party piece – it packs a lot of flavor and interest in a make-ahead dish that serves a crowd. And it is easy to make it look really impressive if you get creative with the garnishes. I serve these as an appetizer to spread on crackers, but you can also serve thin wedges as a first course with a salad. My crab remoulade version walks the line between rustic and elegant – take it wherever you want it to go. It’s perfect as for a Mardi Gras blow out or an elegant jazz brunch. But it’s not only for Mardi Gras, it is great for any spring entertaining. Tender crabmeat with lots of tang and fresh lemon is decadent and fresh all at the same time.

I have this lovely 7-inch springform pan which makes a wonderfully sized appetizer, but if all you have is a 9-inch pan, this recipe works just fine. You will need to reduce the cooking time a little, as the filling is not as thick in a bigger pan. Just make sure the center is firm. Serve this as a spread with baguette slices or crackers.

Crab Remoulade Cheesecake

20 buttery crackers, such as Townhouse

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Several grinds of black pepper

¼ ( ½ stick) cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

2 green onions, white and light green parts, and about 1 inch of dark green

2 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons capers

2 teaspoons grated horseradish from a jar

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

¼ cup sour cream

3 large eggs

2Tablespoons Creole mustard

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Kosher salt and black pepper

3 -4 dashes hot sauce, such as Crystal

1 cup crab meat, rinsed drained and picked over to remove shell

For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottom of a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper, then spray the whole pan with baking spray. Wrap the outside with foil to catch any butter seepage.

Process the crackers, cheese, salt and pepper to fine crumbs in a small food processor.  Add the melted butter and process until it all comes together.  It will be very wet – don’t worry. Press the crumbs onto the bottom of the springform pan, pressing a little bit up the sides of the pan.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the Filling:

Rinse and dry the bowl of the food processor and add the green onion cut into pieces, the garlic, capers and horseradish and pulse until you have a chunky paste.

Beat the cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and mustard together in the bowl of a stand mixer until very smooth and combined.  Add the green onion mixture, the lemon juice, salt and pepper and hot sauce and beat until completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the crab meat and beat on low until it is evenly distributed and combined. 

Spread the filling evenly over the crust, smoothing the top.  Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes until completely firm and lightly browned on top.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then chill in the refrigerator loosely covered for several hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, release the springform ring and transfer the cheesecake to a platter. Lining the bottom of the pan makes it easier to slide the cheesecake off the pan bottom to the platter.

Serve with crackers or baguette toasts.

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