Crab Cake Avocado Relish, Poached Egg, Sauce Maltaise

Crab Cake Avocado Relish, Poached Egg, Sauce Maltaise: Sauce Maltaise is a variation on the classic Hollandaise. It is made with orange juice rather than lemon. Here we have made breakfast by putting it on a crab cake and poached egg, but it is equally at home on fresh seasonal asparagus.

Crab Cake Avocado Relish, Poached Egg, Sauce Maltaise

Edible Art – Food as Art by Chef David Darugh

Why is the presentation and beauty of our food important?  People eat with their eyes before they eat with their mouths.  Food does not have to be complicated to be enjoyed, but it must look appetizing, it should invite you to forget about the stresses of the day, it should lift your spirits and prepare you to relax and enjoy. So, yes, presentation is extremely important to serving excellent food. Consuming an artistically prepared plate of food is almost a spiritual experience.  It gives you the awareness that the chef put tremendous effort and consideration into preparing such a masterpiece for both your eyes and your palate.

We are, after all, hunter gatherers, filled with a sense that what looks good, beautiful and appetizing is safe to eat.  How inviting is a bowl of blue mush? Not very, its color is totally un-appetizing as is the texture.  When you come back from a vacation, what do you talk about? What we hear is talk about the food, the restaurants, and the gourmet delights.

But professionals also agree that food should not look like the chef worked to make it look good (even though she might have done just that). Cautions our friend, former Chef at Chez Panisse, Joanne Weir and author of From Tapas to Meze (Crown, 1994)  “don’t play with the food, you want it to look like it just fell off the tree and onto the plate.”

At Beechwood Inn we do not want our diners to be intimidated by their plate. It should be simple, down to earth and approachable – but the ceramic plate remains our canvas to give you the most beautiful yet appetizing presentation possible.  We hope you will enjoy these images.

Crab Cake Avocado Relish, Poached Egg, Sauce Maltaise


1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked through for shells

2 eggs

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1 shallot finely diced

1 Tbs Dijon mustard

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 Tbs lime or lemon juice

Grated zest of one lemon or lime

½ tsp fresh thyme finely chopped

½ cup bread crumbs

½ cup flour

2 beaten eggs plus 2 Tbls water

1 cup panko

¼ cup canola or other neutral oil for searing

Avocado relish

2 ripe avocados, peeled and diced, 3/8 inch cubes

1 large ripe tomato, diced

2 tablespoons cilantro rinsed and diced

1 shallot, finely diced

1 teaspoon diced pickled jalepeno, strained

Shake of salt

Maltaise Sauce: 

3 cloves minced garlic

1 minced shallot

2 each egg yolks, large

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 cup good quality dry white wine

½ cup orange juice
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce
8 oz. butter, unsalted, melted and clarified
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. orange zest
½  tsp. fresh tarragon leaves, minced

Yellow Pepper Paint

1 yellow pepper

1 orange pepper

Juice of 1 lime

3 tablespoons sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Poached Eggs

6 – 8 poached eggs

Method for Maltaise Sauce

Melt butter over low heat in saucepan. Cool slightly. Skim foam from top of melted butter. Using a small ladle or an oil separator, carefully remove clear butter from saucepan, leaving remaining “milky” liquid to discard. Reserve clarified butter.

Combine garlic and shallot in a small saucepan with the vinegar, wine, orange juice and lemon juice; cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reduces to ¼ cup.  Strain the mixture and discard solids. Cool to room temperature.

Prepare a double boiler by placing a stainless steel bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water. Do not let bottom of the bowl touch the water. Add egg yolks and the reduction to the double boiler and whisk vigorously until mixture thickens and turns pale yellow. Remove bowl from the pot. Add the clarified butter slowly while whisking vigorously until all the butter is incorporated and sauce has thickened. Whisk in hot pepper sauce, orange zest and fresh tarragon and season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Reserve, keeping it warm until service.

Yellow Pepper Paint

Place peppers on sheet pan about 3 inches from a heated broiler. Turn peppers every several minutes with tongs until well “blistered on all sides. Once they are uniformly blistered put them in a covered bowl to steam  and cool for 10 minutes, until they can be handled. Then, rub and peel off the skin. Place the roasted peppers in a Vita Prep with lime and sour cream and process until liquefied.  Pour yellow pepper paint into a squeeze bottle.

Avocado Relish

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and gently mix

Crab Cakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs, mayonnaise, seasoning, herbs, lemon juice, zest, and Dijon together until blended. Put Crab in a large mixing bowl and add bread crumbs, shallots and egg mixture.  Gently mix so as not to break up the crab meat lumps.  Put mixture in the refrigerator for one hour. Form into crab cakes, about 8 for breakfast portions.   Place flour in one flat bowl, two beaten eggs in a second bowl and Panko in a third bowl. Place crab cake in the flour and coat. Next, place crab cake in egg wash and coat. Finally place crab cake in the Panko and coat.

These can be kept in the refrigerator up to three days on parchment and covered. Remove from refrigerator at least 40 minutes before you are ready to cook. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat, then Sauté crab cakes 4 at a time until golden brown, flip and continue cooking until golden brown.  Finish in the oven, 5 minutes for entrée sized portions.

While the crab cakes are cooking in the oven poach your eggs in boiling salted water.

 To Plate

We use ring molds in various sizes, or you can use a small can with the top and bottom removed.  For this breakfast portion we use a 3 inch mold. Portion the relish into 8 and place first portion in the ring mold and tap down to settle.  Remove the mold and top with a crab cake.  Top that with the poached egg. Spoon a tablespoon of maltaise sauce on top and add micro-greens or fresh herbs as a garnish. Squeeze the yellow pepper paint around the crab cake and serve.

Crab Cake Avocado Relish, Poached Egg, Sauce Maltaise by Chef David Darugh, Beechwood Inn: Georgia’s Premier Wine Country Inn

Crab Cake Avocado Relish, Poached Egg, Sauce Maltaise

Chef David Darugh

Beechwood Inn features fresh products from North Georgia farms, orchards, dairies and mills.