23rd July 2011
Crab Ice Cream
I've been thinking about a seafood ice cream for a while now, as you do. Partly for my long-maturing stuffed-squid meal, and partly for the hell of it. I ultimately want to do something with wasabi crackers (like those chinese prawn crackers, but wasabi flavoured) and maybe oyster ice cream as a starter, but I decided to have my first stab at making one for a dessert and I went for crab, though I also thought prawns might work.

I invited Aidan and Jude around for a first attempt at making our planned Erin's Signature West Coast dish. Over here on the East Coast - since we didn't get the chance when we were on the West Coast. That's to be a black pudding and scallop stack with a lime-butter sauce for your information.
I didn't tell them what the pudding was going to be!

Goat's Cheese Parcels

Main Course
Scallops and Black Pudding Stack
Pak Choy in Soy Sauce
Lime Butter Sauce
Dill Mashed Potatoes

Crab Ice Cream
That's right, ice cream. But with crab.

I started on the dessert the night before, making up the broth before going to bed. I also remembered to get the ice cream machine sleeve into the freezer compartment days early (hoping to to do better than the last time I tried to use the damn thing). Then I had time to make up the custard early in the morning and leave it chilling for several hours first in the fridge then in the freezer to get it absolutely as cold as possible without freezing it, knowing how poor my freezer is.
This seemed to do the trick, because the ice cream machine successfully churned the mixture to ice cream in about 20 minutes. (Well, to be honest it wasn't quite frozen even then, but it was very thick and the machine couldn't churn it any more. Maybe I was a bit heavy on the egg yolks?). Then I stuck the sleeve in the freezer until dinner time, turning the contents around with a wooden spoon every so often when I remembered.
The ice cream was quite a lot of effort really, it's a pity the result was a bit underwhelming.
I made the guests try and guess the flavour, which they eventually got with a bit of prompting (and some incredulous muttering) and they were mightily impressed with the concept. But not the delivery.
I don't think the world is quite ready for seafood ice cream as a dessert. It's too much of a psychological dissociation when your mind is expecting pudding and your mouth is feeding you crab.
I still think it has potential as a starter, but I'm pretty much alone here. Aidan did suggest wasabi ice cream instead of my wasabi crackers. I guess there's gonna to have to be a lot of ice cream making going on. Maybe when Aline comes back and we get a new freezer?

Aidan kindly brought the starters, which were rather tasty hope I've got the recipe down Aidan?

I started the mash off nice and early by baking King Edwards well ahead of time for 90 minutes at Gas Mark 6 before running them through a potato ricer and then leaving them to one side in a small bowl, liberally smeared with butter and covered with cling film. When ready to reheat the potato I boiled up some milk and double cream in a large pan, then added the potato and some roughly chopped dill fronds and mashed the potato around until it had warmed through, adjusting the seasoning at the end.
I also boiled up some celeriac with the intention of mashing that in to my potato, but I didn't cook it nearly enough (even though it was simmering for a good 20 minutes). I should have known better - after all you need to take a very different approach to making celeriac purée.

I made up the lime butter sauce half an hour ahead and kept it in a warmed thermos flask.
I fried the black pudding and apple rings just before the guests arrived and put them in a low oven to keep warm.
Preparing everything in advance this way meant that I needed only to stir-fry the pak choy, reheat the riced potato and fry the scallops to serve up the dinner.
The sauce is pretty nice, and quite popular with the other guests, but it's very limey. I found it a little bit too tart for the meal, I think I'd try a Mornay sauce next time.

I decided to try out a couple of different ways of frying up the scallops, just for comparison: We figured the scallops tasted about the same, though they do look prettier all caramelised from the griddle.
However, it's a lot easier to control the slow cooking in butter, it may take a bit longer (and cost a fortune in butter), but you can better manage the cooking speed, and they don't really need that much attention. When you're frying them over high heat it's quite easy to overcook the scallops and turn them into little rubber bullets.
So especially if you've got a lot of other stuff going on I think the deep-butter technique is going to work best.
Thanks Og!

As per usual, I managed to completely forget about taking photos of the end product. So I had to make the meal all over again the next day using some leftover black pudding. But it did give me the chance to try the black pudding stacks with a Mornay sauce instead and I also added a layer of crispy pancetta to the stack, which I managed to forget the first time around! I also served it with celeriac purée instead of mashed potato this time. Just 'cos I didn't want to throw half a celeriac away. It was perfectly good that way too.

I rather liked the Mornay sauce (though don't make it too thick), but then I missed the limeyness of the first meal. Maybe I could try a Mornay sauce with a hint of lime! Ugh no! Or a lime-butter sauce with a bit less lime?
Meh. Life's too short.

First attempt at Erin's West Coast signature dish
Scallops and Black Pudding
main fish meat
Scallops, apple rings, pancetta and black pudding stacks
Although this never quite got made on board Erin, we always planned to try it out during our West Coast holiday. It would have worked pretty well on board to be honest. There's nothing here you couldn't do in a cramped galley on a storm-tossed sea.
Except eat it of course.

Serves 6. Or 4 with a couple of spares

Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
Place the pancetta slices on a baking tray, and if you want them to be extra flat put another baking tray on top of them to hold them down (feel free to put greaseproof paper on either side), then bake them in the oven until they are browned and crisp - about 7 minutes.
Remove from the tray and set them on kitchen paper until required. You can keep the fat from the baking tray to brush over the scallops if you want.

Turn the oven down low.
Slice the black pudding into rounds roughly ¾" thick - one per person.
Peel the apple, slice it into rounds, about ⅓" thick, set them aside in a bowl covered with lemon juice and water to stop them browning.

Fry the black pudding slices until they crisp up, then put them in the oven.
Fry the apple rings (you can use the same fat, but you might want to pour off the excess) until they caramelise, then lay a slice of pancetta and an apple ring atop each of the black pudding rounds and return them to the oven.
Fry up the scallops and put one or two on top of the black pudding stack.
You can either fry the scallops on a very hot frying pan (but clean the one you've just used) or griddle using a little clarified butter or the pancetta fat, or you can cook them more slowly in a good depth of butter in a small saucepan.
Pool a little of the sauce in the middle of each plate, place a black pudding stack on each puddle, grate over a little nutmeg and serve.
Pretty good - although the pancetta is optional, it definitely helps to bring some texture to the dish.
Personally I think I prefer Mornay sauce, but the lime-butter was popular. It might be worth trying to add a little lemon/lime into the Mornay for the best of both worlds.
Nope. Don't do that it just tastes weird!

Crab Ice Cream
dessert fish
Not exactly a success - it was fun trying out, and I think there's some potential there (though not everyone agrees with me), but I wouldn't try this at home kids!

Serves 6

Kill your crab, then boil it in salted water for 2 minutes. Some rather horrible stuff squidges out of the crab during this process. Probably it's normal. Probably.
You are supposed to be able to kill a crab by laying it on its back and driving a knife through it just behind the eyes, but I didn't have any luck with that. Maybe you have to drive harder to get through the shell. Anyway I found it was more effective to drive a skewer or a chopstick through the hole at the pointy tip of the triangular apron below the crab's eyes on its belly.
Break off the crab's legs, pull off the apron then prise the crab's body out of its back shell.
Pull off the gills dead man's fingers and any intestines and discard them. Wash out any nasty fluids from the shell.
Cut the body in half and crack open the claws and legs and prise out any tasty white meat with a skewer or tweezers and reserve it. Try not to get any bits of shell mixed up in it.
When you've collected enough meat, chop up any of the bigger pieces of crab, then start frying.
Heat some olive oil or butter in a large stock pan and fry all the crab pieces and shell for a few minutes until they are dried out and starting to crackle.
Now add the shallots, then the leek, then the garlic, then deglaze with a shot of cognac, a glass of vermouth and a glass of wine.
Carry on frying until the pan dries out again, then add the tomatoes, the carrots, some fennel would be good, the zest, anise, dill and cover with water.
Cover, set to a gentle simmer for 2 hours, giving it an occasional skim, then strain the broth.
I did this by first straining through a colander to get rid of the bigger bits, then through four layers of muslin, then repeat through the muslin until the stock is clear enough.
I ended up with 1½ pints of broth.

Reduce the broth to 300ml, add 300ml double cream and a scant teaspoon of saffron though I think that might have been a touch too much and bring back almost to the boil then take off the heat to cool a little.
I did a little test first with just a couple of tablespoons of each to find out if the mixture would curdle when it boiled up - but it seems to be pretty stable.
Meanwhile beat or whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar for 10 minutes until it is thick and creamy.
Mix a little of the hot broth into the eggs, then pour the eggs into the broth pan and reheat, stirring constantly, until the custard reaches 80°C and begins to thicken to coat the back of a spoon. At this stage you can add more sugar (as I did) if the custard does not taste sweet enough.
Cover with cling film and leave to cool, then chill it right down for a few hours.
Now you can pour it into your ice cream machine and churn it up. I also added most of the shredded crab meat I had reserved earlier.
Keep it in the fridge until required, but preferably for not too many hours.

To serve, you can make some parmesan crisps to stick in the ice cream scoops, and dress them with a little passion fruit.
OK, this wasn't exactly a success. Interesting, and entertaining yes, but not particularly nice. Not as a dessert anyway. The combination of salty and sweet flavours is a bit too weird when your brain is expecting pudding!
I think it might work as a starter, maybe with salad, but the truth is the ice cream was just much too crabby, Especially with the bits of crab meat. I think I'd leave them out if I try this again, and maybe use about half the size of crab.
I see that Heston Blumenthal has a crab ice cream recipe in which he uses skimmed milk powder instead of cream (and about a dozen egg yolks). Maybe that would help?
The passion fruit goes pretty nicely though, and I thought the parmesan crisps were a nice touch.

Pak Choy with Soy Sauce
side veg vegan
Pak Choy fried with soy sauce and garlic
This is quite a good simple way of serving pak choy.
You need about 1 bulb of pak choy, 1 garlic clove and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce per person. Ish. 3 bulbs seemed enough for 4 people really. Make sure to keep the leaves reasonably small or they won't wilt.
The original idea is from Gordon Ramsay, which was to fry the pak choy tossed in soy sauce and garlic from the start. I didn't find that worked very well - the soy sauce burned before the pak choy was cooked.
My method is better.

Serves 4

Grind the garlic cloves with a generous twist of black (or mixed) peppercorns to a paste in a pestle and mortar.
If you're in a hurry you can just press the garlic, but a smooth paste is nicer.
Mix with the soy sauce and olive oil.
Separate the pak choy leaves and wash them well. Cut the larger ones in half or smaller. Which means most of them. Stir-fry the pak choy in a little olive oil in a frying pan or wok until they char a little, and begin to wilt. Add the soy sauce mixture, allow it to reduce and thicken then turn off the heat.
Rather nice.

Lime Butter Sauce
sauce veg
A good sauce to add to the inventory, but be careful not to over-lime it.

Serves 6

Chop the shallot, and simmer in a small pot with the wine until it has reduce to about one half. Strain. Feel free to add a little stock or spare bits of scallops to the wine.
Mix with the cream, add a little of the dissolved cornflour to help prevent curdling though it did seem reasonably stable without and bring it to a reasonable thickness (bearing in mind that the lime juice will thin the sauce further).
Whisk in the butter, a small piece at a time.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
Season to taste.
A good flavour, but quite tart sauce. Adjust the lime juice as necessary.
You can keep the sauce warm in a bain marie or a thermos for up to an hour before serving.
If the sauce curdles you can try and rescue it by vigorously whisking in a teaspoon or two of water.

Celeriac Purée
side veg
It takes quite a lot of cooking to get celeriac soft enough to mash, so this is a good approach that avoids leeching all the flavour away in boiling water.

Serves 6

Cut up the celeriac, and place in a pan with a generous amount of butter and sweat gently for 5 minutes, without colouring.
Add milk almost to cover, the sprig of rosemary and leave to simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until celeriac is soft and the liquid absorbed.
Discard the rosemary, mash or purée the celeriac, season to taste and serve with a grating of nutmeg.
Really rather nice.

Goat's Cheese Parcels
starter veg
Goat's cheese with garlic and herbs in filo pastry parcels
Makes 4

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
Press the garlic clove, and mix with the cheese, herbs and a little oil in a bowl.
Lay the filo sheets on a damp surface to prevent them drying out and cut into 4 squares.
Put a little mixture into the middle of each rectangle and fold up into wonton-shaped parcels, twisting the top to seal them up.
Brush with oil and bake for 4 minutes until the pastry crisps up.
Serve warm with a little dollop of jam.
They're pretty nice - it's best if the insides are still hot and slightly melty.
You could use more than one layer of filo to wrap them if you like, but a singleton works best. Make sure the oven is hot enough or the parcels will go soggy before the pastry crisps. And be sure to cube the cheese, not mash it or they'll go soggy then too. Won't they Mum?

Comments (0)

No comments yet!

Post a comment (Optional)
  • Allowed markup: <a> <i> <b> <em> <u> <s> <strong> <code> <pre> <p>
  • All other tags will be stripped, unless they are in a <pre> (use this for blocks of code)