crab & shrimp on cayenne toast

10 to 12    |   
Prep Time:
20 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
15 minutes

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I went to a holiday cookie exchange, but the taste memory I walked away with wasn’t one particular sweet — it was this incredible appetizer that was served. The trick of brushing the bread with butter mixed with cayenne will make your holiday guests swoon. You can make these with all crab instead of shrimp and crab if you don’t want to cook and peel shrimp.


16 slices firm white sandwich bread
8 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
pinch kosher salt

crab & shrimp salad
6 ounces medium prawns
8 ounces Dungeness or other lump crabmeat
2 tablespoons minced shallot or white parts of green onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
fresh dill sprigs for garnish


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Stack bread slices and cut off crusts. Cut slices into quarters and arrange on a baking sheet. Melt butter then stir in cayenne and salt. Brush tops of bread with butter mixture and bake in middle of oven until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let toasts cool. (May be made 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.)

Heat a medium pot of salted water over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, add the shrimp, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let stand for about 5 minutes, or just until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the pot and, when cool enough to handle, peel and devein. Cut the shrimp into thirds and place in a medium bowl.

Pick over crabmeat to remove any bits of shell. Add crab to the shrimp along with shallot, dill, mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, and lemon juice. Stir gently, taste, and season with salt. (Mixture may be made 6 hours ahead and chilled, covered.)

Just before serving, mound a spoonful of the salad on each toast and garnish with dill sprigs.

(recipe adapted from Gourmet December 1998, by Jodi Liano)