Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Crab two ways and an allotment harvest

Last week I was so taken with Jason Atherton's Maze Cookbook that I bought it, having glimpsed a couple of fantastic crab recipes. As I have the lovely @titianred staying (which involves much boozy putting the world to rights and listening to Leonard Cohen), I had the perfect opportunity to put crab to pan. The first recipe was for crab chowder, involving the underrated brown crab meat. The lovely guys at Seafood and Eat it sell the most wonderful crabmeat and once again provided the protein.
First there's a serious stock to put together: leek, shallot, carrot and garlic are sweated in rapeseed oil (Jason specifies onion and olive oil but hey, I go with what I have). Then when the veg are wilted and golden, it's in with the spice mixture - star anice, lemongrass, parsley and basil stalks, coriander seed and peppercorns.
And I popped in a couple of sprigs of Thai basil from the garden.
Then I added a good squirt of tomato puree and a glass of white wine. The scent was beginning to get really very good.
Next in is a good jug of homemade chicken stock and the mixture bubbles gently for 20 minutes. Strain the stock through a seive, pressing the veggies and spices down to extract all the flavour and then the soup goes back on the heat for the addition of the brown crab meat and double cream, and a final adjustment of salt.
Oh boy. This is an amazingly good recipe. I added a spoonful of white crab meat at the bottom of the bowl before laddeling in the soup. Crab heaven and a noble end for a fine crustacean. We slurped it down.
The second crab dish was a crab toastie - good, but not quite reaching the heights of the chowder. Mix white crab meat with mayo, cream cheese, a dash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of cayenne. Jason's recipe tells you to bake in an oven at gas mark 3 for 10 minutes, but I wasn't quite convinced, so I toasted the bread on one side then pile the crab mixture on the white side and grilled it till bubbling. A good dish but not as good as the soup. But a pretty good supper.
Meanwhile, down on the allotment, life has sprung back into the veg now that we've had some rain. The runner beans - Painted Lady - are going great guns.
I'm so proud of my squash - they're ripening nicely in shades of orange and yellow and green. And we even have a volunteer squash that's sprouted out of the second compost bay.
And after a couple of months of sulking in the heat, the courgette plants have sprung into action, providing the most delicious fruit. I've never loved courgettes until this year.
There are toms and garlic - and a couple of ears of corn from my lovely lottie neighbour Mark. An autumn of mellow fruitfulness.

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