Thursday, June 12, 2008

Secret Dinner

Secret dinner is a practice that was developed out of necessity. After Hurricane Katrina I was displaced from my own home and was living with my sister's in-laws. They were kind and unbelievably generous to open their home to me. Despite the devastation of my home and the chaos in my life at the time, this was a very enjoyable experience. My sister's mother in law was a riot and her father in law was kind-hearted and an amazing cook to boot. Mr. Bob (her father in law) prepared the most unbelievable meals for us every night. After work every day I rushed home in anticipation of his delicious creations. One in particular was his meat sauce. Although meat sauce may not sound like something worth rushing home to this particular recipe was! He prepared it with a mixture of pork, veal and beef and served it over spinach linguine - very gourmet. The first time I ate the meat sauce with gusto and later that night I suffered from severe stomach pains and nausea. After the first occurrence I surveyed the other members of the household in the morning to see if they had experienced illness as well. They hadn't so I figured it was a fluke. Well after about my fourth time experiencing the violent illness that followed the heavenly meat sauce I made the unwanted connection -something in the meat sauce did not agree with me.

I did not want to tell my gracious host that his recipe was poisoning me so out of desperation I invented secret dinner. Secret dinner is when you are going to eat at someone's house and you know you don't want to eat what they have prepared so you stop off on the way to the dinner and get another meal. It is usually a small somewhat insignificant meal in order to allow you to still be able to eat enough of the real meal to not appear rude. Secret dinner saved me from several sleepless meat sauce nights filled with pain and suffering. After the creation of the secret dinner, I have shared the theory with some very fortunate loved ones who have since participated in the practice with me. It has evolved to encompass eating before a particularly light meal at someone's home or a meal that is served much later than you are accustomed to eating dinner. Although it might sound like a very despicable and gluttonous practice I hope you find compassion in understanding its origin and if that still doesn't do it then you must understand how crazy I get if I don't eat!

So what does all of this have to do with Corn and Crab Salad? I prepared this meal this week for my friend Melanie. And although we both though it tasted fine it didn't blow my socks off. It was not filling and it wasn't at all delicious. I found the dressing to be very bland and it didn't have much of anything to really hang its hat on. Later that night when Forrest asked how was the salad I told him it was "secret dinner worthy". Having shared in many a secret dinner with me - he knew exactly what I was talking about!

Crab, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing
Cooking Light June 2008


1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices ripe beefsteak tomato (eliminated this due to the tomato drama happening this week)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved


1. Combine rind, 3 tablespoons juice, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons juice mixture. Add remaining 2 tablespoons juice, corn, and next 4 ingredients (through crab) to remaining juice mixture; toss gently to coat.

2. Arrange 2 tomato slices and 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes on each of 4 plates. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon reserved juice mixture over each serving. Top each serving with 1 cup corn and crab mixture. (I added avocado slices to liven it up a bit)


Gabriela said...

Your crab salad looks positively gourmet - yet another succulent epicurean's delight. Okay, it's time I 'fess up - I too exercise secret dinners when the timing of a host's meal isn't going to work for me. I learned that the hard way when visiting some elderly friends who couldn't get their act together and get the 2:00 p.m. dinner on the table until 9:30 p.m. I told them my child was getting antsy and I was going to take her to the park for a short while, but instead I took her to Denny's, fed her, swore her to secrecy, and came back to wait for our host to serve dinner. Appalling - I know.

Elizabeth F. said...

I feel your pain Gabriela! Glad to know I am not alone...

Woody said...

i love secret dinner

Anonymous said...

Ok ... now that the secret is out ... let's fess up ... secret dinner is not always a light meal ... sometimes it is Cane's Box Combo from Lakeside mall ... and then an elmo cookie

- Big sis Jess

Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way ... Mr Bob's meat sauce IS delicious! ... and no one else gets sick after eating it.

Melanie said...

As I read this post I couldn't help but wonder if I was somehow the unwitting accomplice to a secret dinner. I'm glad that was not the case, but I will admit that I have done the same on occasion :) I agree with everything you said about this salad-- the dressing could have had a stronger flavor to really bind the whole thing together. If we hadn't eaten crescent rolls with it, we really would have been pretty hungry afterward. But I'm not complaining-- anytime you want to cook for me, I'm there!

Ally said...

Hahahahha! I love it! I totally get it too, how funny! That is a great strategy, I may have to adopt it!