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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Quick Crab Bisque pure canned dinner magic

Thursday, August 05, 1999

Tested by Betsy Kline

Marguerite Hannon of Fox Chapel knows a thing or two about cooking and cookbooks. She's amassed a collection of several hundred ("I read them like novels") and she's written one.

"It's Our Thyme" -- a collection of her favorite family recipes -- was written for her grown-up children and family friends, lovingly sheeted in plastic page protectors and bound in white notebooks. She's in the process of updating that family heirloom, but took the time to fax a couple of recipes to Countdown to Dinner.

Today we're featuring her Quick Crab Bisque. Hannon tells us she came across the idea for the recipe maybe 40 years ago in an early edition of "The Joy of Cooking." She played around with the ingredients and came up with this version -- a rich, sherry-spiked seafood soup using canned condensed soups as a base -- which comes together in a remarkable 20 minutes.

"When the kids were home I used to make it all the time on Christmas Eve. Now I use it when a need a meal in a hurry. All you need is fruit or bread or crackers" as an accompaniment.

She usually does the crab meat version, but lobster meat or even fake seafood (surimi) chopped in fine dice does nicely. She does not recommend using shrimp.

Hannon and her husband, Jack, are retired now and the four children are married with kids of their own, which means lots of cooking when the family gathers.

Hannon's always on the lookout for new recipes -- a home copier makes it easy to copy and file. And she's quick to share the ones she likes: Her recipes have been published in Gourmet magazine.

Quick Crab or Lobster Bisque

1 cup (more or less) flaked canned or fresh crab, lobster or artificial crab
3 tablespoons sherry or 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (sherry is much better!)
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can condensed split pea soup
1 1/4 cups hot milk (we used whole milk)

Soak crab or lobster in sherry for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the soups and heat to just boiling over medium heat. (Tester's note: You'll want to keep stirring until the soups blend to prevent scorching.)

Slowly stir in hot milk. Add crab or lobster and heat, but do not boil.

Makes 4 main-course servings or 6 appetizer servings.

Hannon's note: Using half chicken bouillon and half light cream in place of the milk adds more flavor. Oyster crackers are a good accompaniment.

Do you have an entrée, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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