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Mind Caviar, Vol. 3 Spring Issue, 2002

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From New Orleans' Palace Café
Crabmeat Cheesecake with Pecan Crust
garnished with Wild Mushrooms

When most people think of cheesecake, they imagine a rich, sweet New York-style dessert, or maybe they think of the luscious legs of a 1940s pin-up girl. But here in New Orleans, when you mention you had the cheesecake appetizer at the Palace Café, it can

 only mean one thing: you've tasted a savory appetizer delight that will leave you craving another bite. 

Owned and operated by Dickie Brennan, of the famed New Orleans restaurant family, the Palace Café is located on historic Canal Street bordering the French Quarter in the former Werlein's music store. This building has served as a New Orleans landmark since the turn of the century and features lovely tile floors and a spacious, lofty dining room divided into two floors. It has been a local favorite since its opening in 1991, and offers a great business lunch at reasonable prices, especially considering the lively atmosphere and the gourmet Creole food provided.

The Brennan family restaurants are also quite generous in sharing their recipes with the general public. The following recipe is from their Web site. Even though it has several steps, it is an amazing dish you should try at home for special occassions, especially if you are not a native of New Orleans and cannot hop downtown to suit your Creole cravings.

Yields 1 9" tart 
1 C Pecans 
1 C Flour 
1 Tsp. Salt 
5 Tbs. Butter, cold 
3 Tbs. Ice water 
1 small onion, finely diced 
4 oz. Crabmeat, shells removed 
8 oz. Cream cheese, room tempature 
1/3 C Creole cream cheese * 
2 Eggs 
Salt and white pepper hot sauce 
*or substitute equal parts plain yogurt and sour cream 


1 oz. Hot sauce 
2 Tbs. Chopped shallots 
4 oz. Sliced mixed wild mushrooms 
1 Tbl. Lemon juice 
3 oz. Worcestershire sauce 
3 oz. Heavy whipping cream 
3 Tbs. Soft unsalted butter 
24 Crab claw fingers 
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparing the Pecan Crust

Grind the pecans, flour and salt in the food processor until fine. Transfer to a bowl. Add butter. Work the butter into the flour until you have crumbs about the size of a pea. Toss in the ice water, lifting the dough up with your fingers to evenly incorporate. The dough will remain fairly crumbly. Starting with the sides and then the bottom, press the dough into the tart pan. Bake with the sides and then the bottom, press the dough into the tart pan. Bake the crust in a 350° oven for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile make the filling. 

Preparing the Filling

Cook the onion in a bit of butter over medium heat until translucent. Add the crabmeat and cook until just heated through. Set this aside. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, or by hand using a wooden spoon, blend the cream cheese until smooth. Add the Creole cream cheese and then the eggs one at a time. Fold in the crabmeat mixture. Season to your liking with salt, white pepper and hot sauce. Pour the mix into the prepared crust. Bake at 300° for about 30 minutes until set and firm to the touch. 

Preparing the Topping

Sauté shallots until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until sweated. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire and hot sauce and reduce by 1. Add heavy cream and reduce by 1. Whisk in unsalted butter. In a separate saute pan, add crab claw fingers. Salt and pepper to taste and pour reduction over. Each slice of cheesecake gets three crab claws and two Tbs. sauce.

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