Kaye White of Bloomington, Minn., was looking for the recipe for the crab imperial that was served at the now-closed Olney Inn. Interestingly, I received two versions claiming to be the Olney Inn recipe from readers. The only difference between the two versions was that in one the crab was topped with an egg white-and-mayonnaise meringue and garnished with mashed potato piping around the outside of the dish. The crab imperial itself was identical in both versions. I suspect that over time the meringue and mashed potatoes were eliminated to simplify the preparation.
I tested the recipe sent in by Nancy Gabriel from Skyesville, which came from "The Olney Inn Cookbook" by Bea Sandler, copyrighted in 1972. The cover of the little cookbook describes it as a treasury of recipes, menus and ideas for entertaining in the "Maryland manner." This is more than likely the original version.
The only change I made was to substitute real mashed potatoes for the instant ones called for in the recipe. I just couldn't bring myself to top that divine crab imperial with instant potatoes. With or without the topping, when made with good-quality crab meat, this classic dish is a winner.
REQUESTS: Greg Padgett from Selma, Ala., is looking for a recipe for blueberry dumplings like his late grandmother made. He says her recipe was a bit different from most because she would layer the dumplings and the filling to make a cobblerlike dish.
If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request, write to Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Names and cities must accompany recipes for them to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes.
Makes: 8 servings
2 pounds backfin crabmeat
1 tablespoon chopped pimento
1 tablespoon whole capers
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup best-quality mayonnaise, divided use
Few drops of Tabasco sauce
2 egg whites
1 pint mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
In a 3-quart bowl, combine lightly the crabmeat, pimento, capers, Worcestershire sauce, salt, 1/2 cup mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce. Divide the mixture evenly onto eight lightly greased scallop shells or ramekin dishes.
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold in 1/2 cup mayonnaise until smooth. Spread the mixture evenly over each individual portion of crabmeat to cover completely.
In a 1-quart saucepan, prepare 1 pint mashed potatoes using instant potatoes made with clam juice instead of milk or water. Season to taste. Pipe an edge of whipped potatoes with a pastry bag around the scallop shell. Dribble potatoes with melted butter and paprika the potatoes lightly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown.