Crab on Sourdough Toast

Crab on Sourdough Toast

And so here we are at the Easter weekend and I’m ready for the extended break. Business is booming, which is great news, but everyone needs a breather right?

As ever, with any break, it gives me the opportunity to get out the old routine and try out something ‘new’. I say new, this is based on something I had at a gastro-pub recently – I liked it so much though I knew I’d have to try it myself at home.

Helen and some of her esteemed colleagues, went down to our local fish deli – Latimers, at lunchtime yesterday. I feel I spend a lot of time blowing their trumpet, but I think it’s praise well deserved and I want to support local suppliers any way I can.

I’ll be posting about the fish she bought later, but whilst there she managed to get hold of some freshly cooked and picked white crab meat.

I intended to use it in part of a fish dish, but being so fresh, it seemed sacrilege to hide it away and so made this brunch dish where it can sit centre-stage.

I seasoned it very lightly using only creme fraiche, lemon, parsley from the garden, salt, pepper and a tiny dash of vinegar to lift it a bit – be careful though I only added a few drops. To serve it, the toast gives a nice contrast and I used plenty of real butter to add a bit of decadent richness 😉  I’ve put in my quantities, but I’d suggest adding a little less and adjusting to your own  taste. The cayenne was a last minute thing but I’m glad I tried it as it added a nice bite.

I’m suprised I didn’t make this before. I think this would make a nice light starter too. Hmm….

Parsley

Served 1, but Helen ended up eating half of it…..

  • About 85g/3 oz white crab meat
  • 1 heaped tbsp creme fraiche
  • I used the juice of half a small lemon – but add to taste.
  • 2 tsp of finely chopped parsley
  • A small dash (no more than a 1/4 tsp) white wine vinegar.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to finish

Crab meat

Simplicity itself – just combine all the ingredient in a bowl and taste it. The above measure were tweaked as I went along, so I’d suggest adding a little less of everything and adjusting as you see fit.

Toast and butter a couple small slices of sourdough bread (or 1 large one). Spoon on the crab mixture and dust with cayenne pepper

IMG_7258

Homemade Pasta

Homemade pasta

I can’t tell you the tantrums I’ve thrown making my own pasta over the years. I just could not get it to work. I used a pasta machine, but the strands always stuck back together in a clump, or when I did get them as far as the pan, it turned out blubbery and unappealing.

Then there is the mess of course. I’m not the tidiest cook I admit, but the kitchen looked a disaster zone and after getting such disappointing results, I wasn’t sure it was worth it. I’m also a fan of dry pasta, being much better for the types of dishes I prefer (tomato or oil based). I gave it another go though, being a little more experienced (read: older) these days.

In theory, it’s simple of course being a mixture of flour and water, or eggs. I went for a fresh egg pasta style based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe which basically comprises 600g ’00’ flour and 6 beaten eggs. I basically reduced the amounts down to 200g flour and 2 eggs for two servings. Very generous servings in fact.

The difference I found this time though was in kneading it thoroughly – at least 5 minutes before leaving to rest in the fridge. The result was drier, much easier to cut and more importantly, much better to eat with a definite bite. It was a bit paler than convention dictates but then this is down to the colour of the eggs themselves. Next time, I’m going to try using just yolks to improve this though.

Veggie January has relaxed a bit to include fish, I just couldn’t do without. So I made a quick (low fat) creme fraiche based sauce with smoked salmon to go with it and it actually worked very well! I confess to using a small knob of butter though, essentially adding the fat that was removed from the creme fraiche, but it was a little bit ‘sharp’ and was better for it. Unlike my waistline….

Ingredients:

Pasta

  • 200g (just under a cup) ’00’ grade flour
  • 2 eggs beaten

Smoked salmon and creme fraiche sauce.

  • 2 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp whole capers, then chopped.
  • 150g smoked salmon
  • splash of white wine
  • 3 heaped tbsp creme fraiche (I used low fat but…..)
  • 1 small knob of butter – very much optional!
  • Salt (if needed) and black pepper.

;

Making the pasta

I used a small food processor for speed. Simplicity itself really, just blitz the eggs and flour together until you get ‘crumbs’. Then take it out and bind it together with your hands into a ball.

Then the hard bit – knead it! Five minutes minimum, but you do notice when it’s ready, becoming very smooth and pliable. Wrap it thoroughly in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes at least.

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil now as it may take a while.

I used a pasta machine to roll it out, starting at the widest setting and finishing a number 2. To make it more manageable, I split the dough in two. Use a little flour to prevent the sheets sticking.

Rolling pasta

After the first roll, it’ll be a long oval shape, so just fold it up, like you would a tea towel and put it back through. It’s tricky but practise makes perfect I’m guessing.

Finally, I used the smaller cutter on the pasta machine to make spaghetti sized strands. Technically I believe its spaghetti alla chitarra (thank you Wiki), being square rather than round, but after cooking you can’t really tell.

Cutting pasta

At this point I recommend you make the sauce, as the pasta cooks in a couple of minutes:

Simply fry the smoked salmon and capers in the oil in a small sauce pan for a minute then add a splash of wine. Reduce it for a couple more minutes and stir in the creme fraiche. Heat through and season with black pepper and salt if it needs it – the smoked salmon was salty enough for me. Stir in the butter if you want to ;).

The water should be rapidly boiling so drop the pasta in, separating it with your fingers as you do. Stir well with a spaghetti spoon to ensure they stay separate. It’ll only take a couple of minutes to cook and slightly underdone is much better than well overdone so you need to keep attentive.

Once done, drain it and return to the pan. Stir in the sauce and mix well with the spaghetti spoon.

Sphaghetti with smoked salmon and creme fraiche

;