Seafood is a common (and usually severe) allergy. Not for me though; I’m allergic to dogs… most of them anyway. So much so in fact – that it’s ruined many important things in my life. It has ruined relationships, family functions, marriage proposals (I bleep you not) and on one occasion, an important job opportunity.
I like to play the field when it comes to kitchen positions to land a leadership role but I was hooked by the title alone when I saw a glimpse of a job ad on an online career site: “WANTED: LIVE-IN STUDENT COOK. FLEXIBLE HOURS @ $16 P/HR”. Knowing that I wasn’t yet a red seal and couldn’t pass up a rare apprenticeship opportunity, I contacted Mary right away to charm my way into an evening interview.
I got the interview but in true fashion of the industry, I was asked to bring along something I’ve made along with my resume and college transcripts. When I asked her what she wanted me to bring, Mary replied with my favourite response: “Surprise me.”
I gave the matter some thought and decided that a Prince Edward Islander like Mary might appreciate a unique spin on a saltwater favourite using some locally sourced potatoes. With this concept in mind, I took pen and paper in hand and jotted down a rough recipe for:
Mashed Potato Crab Cakes
4 -5 large PEI russet potatoes chopped
3 large egg yolks
½ pkg imitation crab meat
2 cans crab meat
2 tbsp real butter
2 tbsp herb and garlic cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup marble cheese, shredded
½ cup spinach, slivered
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp savoury
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, boil potatoes and place in a large bowl. Mash with ricotta cheese, canned crab meat, egg yolks, butter and salt and pepper. Preheat oven on broiler setting (or 400 F) and set top rack. Using a medium ice cream scoop, place a dollop of the mixture each in 6 ramekins, top in order with chunks of imitation crab meat and shredded cheese. In a medium bowl, mix bread crumbs with savoury and place on top of the cheese. Surround inner edges of ramekins with slivered spinach and broil for 12 minutes or until breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Let crab cakes come down to room temperature, cover each in plastic wrap and chill.
The interview took place at Mary’s home just outside of the inn where I had hoped to live and work. Upon being ushered in I was unexpectedly greeted by two large golden retrievers whom Mary’s husband assured me were both well trained and harmless. I pressed an awkward smile out from pure dread as he left me mortified with the doggies as he fetched his wife for our interview. As my nose began to tickle and my eyes watered, the first sneeze hit me. Then another sneeze, followed by another until I was having a full on allergy attack.
In the midst of this chaos I dropped the whole glass container of crab cakes on the floor which shattered upon contact with the marble. The two dogs promptly began eating the crab cakes… along with a few shards of broken glass. Of course, I cried out immediately for help. Mary came to assist the situation and I was immediately sent home with angry reprimand from a justifiably concerned dog mother.
The dogs later turned out to be fine, as I was wracked with guilt enough to inquire about their health every chance I got thereafter. The job though was an immediate lost cause and my allergy wasn’t really considered a valid excuse for the accident. You were expecting a happy ending? I wish I had one for you, and perhaps next week I will. Until then, Happy Endeavors!