A blog about cooking with a surprise set of ingredients.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A bit crabbit

When I bought Lenny, I had actually thought of buying a crab for Hazel instead, because it was one of my favorite things to eat when I grew up. Although, we used to eat it cold out of the shell with toast and my mother's home-made mayonnaise (made from only olive oil). I'm not sure this is the classical Scottish way to serve crab, maybe Hazel will serve it with oaths, whipped cream, raspberries and whisky, but I'm sure that would be good too... Good luck, darling!

What is it with all the crustaceans, I wondered as I took my first look at the bag.
At least this particular specimen was dead, however. Looking at the various ingredients, I decided to start with the artichokes since the only way to soften the texture enough is to have a relatively long cooking time.  I found an interesting recipe for baked artichokes with garlic and rosemary, and got stuck in. Artichokes are a hard nut to crack though, by the time you take off the outer leaves and the inner fluff (for want of a better word) . Things were easier with the second one - top tip for the day is not to start by peeling the stalk (whatever Rose and Ruth say) because it'll break and then you'll have nothing to hold on to when you're preparing the rest of it. I stuffed them with garlic, fresh thyme and a good lot of salt and pepper, covered them in olive oil and tin foil, and bunged them into the oven at about 200 C. They emerged 45 minutes later looking very fancy - the leaves had turned purple and bloomed out - and tasting lovely, although I admit there was a lot of woody-ness left on the plate at the end.... 

I turned with a sigh to the crab. Quite cute in a Finding Nemo kind of way. To do him justice, I decided to make dressed crab, with elegant white, yellow and green stripes of egg and herbs. The difficult bit, of course, is extracting the crab meat: sometimes only a proper Scottish word will do, and this is one of those times: it's a right chauve (not to be confused with a chav, although both are of course equally undesirable...). Anyway, I dug out a good amount of white and brown meat, keeping them separate, and hard-boiled an egg to make the stripes. Trying to update the traditional recipe a bit, I flavoured the white meat with garlic and lemon, and the brown meat with ginger and lime, before shoving the whole lot back where it came from into the shell, brown meat in the middle and white on either side. The trick then is to make stripes of the yolk and white of the egg, along with herbs (basil as it happened). I was quite proud of it once I'd finished, but it really was a laborious exercise! The taste was good, although in the unlikely event I make it again, I'll be a bit heavier with the spices. 

I'd just about exhausted myself with the starter and main, so I kept it simple for dessert. Mascarpone and ginger mixed together with sucre petillant (it comes in small illegal looking packets and fizzes a bit on your tongue), and some sliced fruit. The peaches, tho beautiful, weren't very ripe, so I blanched them in hot water for a minute so that the skin would come off. I also tried a trick with the yellow tomato - if it was soaked for a while in peach liqueur would it taste like a peach? (The answer is not quite, although it stops really tasting like a tomato either.) The cherries, thankfully, needed no work, so I just sliced a few and they looked lovely as they were. Now that's my kind of ingredient. 

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