Baked Curried Crab Dip

It’s dungeness crab season in Northern California. Out of all of the options, this is one of my favorite ways to prepare crab; it’s an adaptation of a recipe that my parents got from one of their friends, who probably got it from a cookbook somewhere down the line, but I don’t even have my parents version written down anywhere.

(Even though I kind of wanted to call my folks and get the real recipe that I remembered, I was baking apple pie at the same time I was getting the crab dip ready.  I was way too covered in flour and crab juice to want to touch my phone.  Sometimes you get sucked into The Projects so far that texting someone for help is just hopeless, you know? Deep in the flour jungle, there’s no cell reception, you gotta just use your wits and fend for yourself.  No turning back.)Is it weird to work on these two projects at the same time? Yes.  Is apple pie delicious with no cinnamon, extra nutmeg, less sugar, and 1/2 c. of maple syrup? Also yes.  Anyway, the lack of recipe didn’t matter at all: the dip was delicious.  It being the holidays and all, if you were wanting to make some kind of festive party appetizer, this would be a strong candidate. Crab seems really high end, expensive ingredient, but it’s only $4.99/lb. for a whole steamed crab at the grocery store right now, so it’s really completely reasonable.

A note on breaking down whole crabs:

You don’t need a fancy seafood cracker.  I used a rolling pin.  Start with the claws and just give them a good smack and they’ll crack really easily. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can also use the non-sharp side of a big chef knife or cleaver, though this is slightly less effective.  You could also use a rock or something.  No need for special tools.  If you’ve never done this before,  I found this post here with good instructions for cleaning and cooking crab. 

So, you may notice that there’s no picture of the finished dip.

We ate it, really really fast.  Out of the oven and poof it was gone before I could think about my camera.  Don’t let the lack of an image fool you, though, you should still make this.

Baked Curried Crab Dip

Serves: about 6 people as an appetizer

Cook Time: 35 minutes


  • 1/2 c. cooked lump crabmeat*
  • 1 block of softened low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs. low-fat sour cream
  • 1 tbs. whole grain mustard
  • 1/8 c. minced onion
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric**
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. grated fresh horseradish (or you can use prepared in a jar, if you don’t have access to fresh)
  • 2 tbs. fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c. shaved parmesan cheese plus another 1/4 c. to put on top of the dip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, gently fold together all of the ingredients (except 1/4 c. of the shaved parmesan cheese).  Lightly grease a small baking dish.  Spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish and top with 1/4 c. shaved parmesan.  Bake for 15 min., or until the cheese on top has melted and the dip looks very lightly browned around the edges.   Serve hot, with crackers or baguette.  You can also make this dip a day ahead, store it in the fridge covered with saran, and pop it in the oven right before you want to serve it.

Oh, I’m 99% sure that my oven isn’t cooking at accurate temperatures right now, so I have to give a disclaimer and say that the times may be off.  Use yer eyeballs, you’ll know when it’s done.


*This was about half of the meat from a whole dungeness crab for me.  I’m saving the shells and the other half of the meat to make crab bisque.

**Curry powder works fine, though I don’t usually keep it in my spice cabinet.  Even garam masala would work if you don’t have turmeric. The point it for it to taste vaguely curried, not for you to go spend money. 

Marlborough Pie

I’m still laid up with a busted ankle today.  Hopefully this is the last day of this, but I’m still going stir-crazy in a motel room in town.  I’m going to try heading back to the farm tomorrow, but I’m not totally sure how it’s going to work.  I grudgingly let a bunch of boys come and watch the 49ers game on the motel tv since the other option seemed like it wouldn’t go over very well (which was this: “… but how am I supposed to sit in bed and feel sorry for myself if I have a bunch of laughing, happy people around?”)

I finally unwrapped my foot this morning and poked it a little bit, which was exciting. It’s a nice blue-ish gray, a shade that might be called Weathered New England Beach House, and still pretty puffy . Other than poking at my foot, the only other productive activity I can think of is writing more blog posts.  I’ve already replied to e-mails and looked at new recipes and ordered some supplies for holiday craft projects…   I think writing about pie is a reasonable next step.
Anyway, this is such a delicious pie recipe that despite the fact that all of these pictures are old, from the Days Before The Blog, I’m going to share it.  I’m sure I’ll make it again this fall and update these pictures with something newer and fancier.

Marlborough Pie is a traditional recipe from New England. It may not look like much at all in the above picture, but it’s one of the best pies I’ve ever eaten. I heard a dude on NPR do a program about regional apple pies and  he said Marlborough Pie was his favorite.  The crust can be either a traditional pate brisee or puff pastry, and the filling is this wonderfully luscious and sophisticated, slightly lemony apple custard. It’s a perfect way to use home-canned apple sauce and fresh eggs to make a wonderful fall dessert.   It’s somehow rich and light tasting at the same time, and you could serve it after a big holiday meal without sending everyone spiraling into food comas.

My family has been eating this pie for as long as I can remember.  We used to go to Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts every Thanksgiving, a fantastically nerdy family vacation.  Looking back, it was actually pretty fun.  I remember the crisp November air while we walked to all these different houses and watched “costumed historians” do reenactments of Thanksgiving dinners from the 1800’s.  As an eight year old, I was always super annoyed that the actors were eating turkey and pie while I was walking around in the cold.

Eight Year Old Me: “Hey Lady, lemme have some of that pie.”

Grownup: “No.”

Later in the evening, though, we would go to the big restaurant in the village and have a wonderful dinner.  Another traditional New England dessert we’d have was Indian Pudding, which looks like a bowl of gross brown schlop, but is actually this steamy spiced molasses and cornmeal custard served with vanilla ice cream.  Everyone should also be eating this, it’s delicious.  As a child, I really thought our Sturbridge trips were so dorky and annoying, but as an adult, I think it’s pretty great that my parents took us there so many times.

Marlborough Pie

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t call it Apple Custard Tart or something so it doesn’t remind me of cigarettes.

Serves: 8

Cook Time: around 2 hours, including baking time


One single 9″ Pie Crust: Use whichever recipe is your favorite, or click here for instructions from Martha (please note that this recipe is for a double pie crust, not a single pie crust, so split it in half).

For the Custard Filling:

  • 3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce*
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 fresh eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. sherry (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, lemon zest. Gradually beat in the eggs, lemon juice, applesauce, sherry, and heavy cream and ginger.

Lay out the pie crust in a 9″ pie dish. Pour in the custard filling.  Put the pie in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  Reduce heat to 350 and cook for 45 more minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

This pie will set much better if you let it cool  and don’t serve it piping hot out of the oven.

*I use a chunky gravenstein applesauce from our pantry for this, but if you want to have a perfectly smooth custard you can puree the applesauce first or even run it through a chinois to take out any clumps.  I like leaving it chunky and calling it rustic.