Recipe for Romance:Jalapeno Crab Cakes

February 2, 2011

Are all of you wonderful readers gearing up for big-time l’amour next week?  Is the Veuve Cliquot chilling?  Have you trekked out to the lingerie store and the florist? Are the Godiva chocolates wrapped?  Did you book your mid-winter bikini wax at the spa?

Me neither.

I could invoke the Hello? I’m married! excuse, but I won’t. Truth is,  I’m just not that invested in Valentine’s Day.  In my universe, February contains just one truly important holiday: my birthday.

My birthday is 9 days after Valentine’s Day.  In the past, this has been a leeetle bit of a problem.

Problem: Males I dated, worked into a panicked froth by the advertising blitz surrounding Valentine’s day, spent money on thoughtful gifts for February 14. And just like that, the proverbial wad was shot.

Apparently, spending time and money on a thoughtful Valentine’s  gift is absolutely exhausting for someone with a Y chromosome. So exhausting that it renders him useless until December.

Now, I’d like to go on record that I’m not a Material Girl. I’m not. I don’t care about jewelry or perfume or overpriced roses. I don’t care about those things on Valentine’s Day and I don’t care about them on February 23. What I do care about? Effort. Because it’s my freaking birthday. The one day out of 365 that’s about me. Moi. The Dane-ster.

I don’t think that it’s excessive to ask for a little fanfare one day a year, do you?

And the crazy thing is, I’ve beaten that point into made that point crystal clear to every boyfriend I’ve ever had. If a man dates me for over 15 minutes, he knows that my birthday is occasion for Stinkus Maximus.

And yet, barring my husband, every male I’ve ever dated has failed to remember this detail. I blame Valentine’s Day.

Those Valentine’s Day commercials turn a man’s happy parts into Shrinky Dinks. Men wither in terror, wander into retail stores, drooling in panic, and are immediately marked: fresh meat. Did you ever notice how smug salesgirls look a few days before February 14? They grin like barracudas.

Those barracudas kill my birthday. Bitches.

Winner of the worst-gift-trophy was a man named J*. I dated J, an edgy, Renaissance-man-part-time-musician, when I was 25.  J scraped together enough cash after Valentine’s Day to mark my 26th year with a baggie of jelly beans and a paperback Tom Clancy novel.

I was not amused. I mean, I knew that edgy, Renaissance/musician-type men didn’t have loads of cash to throw around, but I did expect some synapses to be firing.

Not faring much better was a man named P*,  who proudly handed me a single, smallish piece of blue luggage one birthday.

“He gave me luggage,” I told my mother.

“I suppose it’s fruitless to assume that the luggage had a plane ticket to Paris in it?”

“Totally not containing that ticket,” I replied.

I dumped P two weeks later and took the luggage to Las Vegas for spring break.

As time goes by and my face collects more wrinkles, my desire for birthday fanfare has waned.  Unless it’s a big sucker, like the 4-0, I’m content to mark my birthday with a movie and a nice dinner.  And although he’s never complained, I’m sure my husband finds that a relief.

I also have formed a truce with Valentine’s Day. My goodness, time softens us, doesn’t it?

I remain low-maintenance when it comes to Valentine’s Day–give me a card and some kisses and I’m good to go. Although two years ago, my husband totally hit the ball out of the park for Valentine’s Day. He gave me, hands-down, my favorite V-day gift ever. This. Isn’t it absolutely swoon-worthy?

Damn, I’m a lucky girl.

Here’s what I’m making my Valentine for dinner this year. Because baby, you’ve never buzzkilled my birthday. You’re a keeper.

Jalapeno Crab Cakes

from Bon Appetit magazine

serves 4

1 pound fresh crabmeat, picked over, patted dry

1 1/3 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

2 tablespoons seeded, minced jalapeno chiles  (if you fear the heat, substitute a mild green pepper or a poblano chile instead)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 large eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Line rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in eggs. Using moist hands, shape mixture into 4 large or 8 small cakes, each about 3/4-inch thick. Arrange cakes on prepared sheet.

Heat half of oil in a medium, heavy, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add half of crab cakes and cook until brown and crispy on bottom side, about 4 minutes. Flip crab cakes gently over using a spatula and cook until golden, 3-4 minutes more.

Keep crab cakes warm in a low oven until the second batch is done. Repeat procedure, using the rest of the oil and crab mixture.

Serve with salad greens and any sauce you like. We like Remoulade.

*Names/Initials have been changed to protect the emotionally and financially deficient.

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