The festive season is near, I am doing everything I can to get into the Christmas spirit, which I always find hard... it's the climate, I do need my snow to get into the mood! But it is snowing as we speak, so I can't complain, although it wouldn't be the first time that we have snow just before and then run out in T-shirts on the actual day!
I have much to look forward to over the next three weeks, my parents will be joining us for the celebrations after a month in Australia, my husband will be off until January - a luxury I haven't had for a long, long time! And so after baking several batches of cookies, some old and trusted, some new and instantly liked, I now need to sit down and plan the food...
There will always be an opportunity for fingerfood, so we'll have rather a lot of that... this recipe here is one that I concocted for a catering I did last week - an all girls' Christmas party, all girls' with astonishing waistlines, I have to say, and much of what I made was on the healthy and figure-conscious side. So if you want to indulge without piling on the pounds, here's a small step towards that.
Since white crab meat is quite expensive, I would suggest you buy a whole crab at your fishmongers and have them pit it for you (white and brown meat separately), it works out about half the price! I paid £12 at a rather pricey fishmonger whereas the crab meat alone would have cost me £30 - and that was for almost 50 canapes! I didn't want to throw out the brown meat, so made a little mayo with it for the base... adding some creaminess and a depth of flavour you won't get from the white. You could use just the salad and arrange on a leaf of gem lettuce for an easy and stylish starter.
These croustades are incredibly simple to make and bursting with flavour - the salad can be prepared well in advance and is relatively easy to assemble as well... just what you need when you've got a million things on your mind.
(yields about 50)
2 tbsp good-quality mayonnaise or aioli
4 heaped tbsp brown crab meat***
salt, pepper, tabasco
ca. 250 g white crab meat
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla)
2 heaped tbsp soft brown sugar
1 small handful mint leaves
2 large handfuls coriander leaves
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 small red chilli (or more to taste)
half head of Romaine or Iceberg lettuce
First, check both the white and brown meat for any bits of shell that might have snug in. This is best done with your bare hands, the pieces can be quite small.
For the crab salad, combine the lime juice, brown sugar and fish sauce in a bowl, stir until the sugar has dissolved. If your sugar is quite hard, you can heat the mixture a little to make the dissolving easier. Finely chop the coriander, mint and kaffir lime leaves, deseed and de-vein the chilli and chop finely as well. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and leave to infuse for at least 3 hours in the fridge. You can prepare this a day in advance, if you wish.
For the brown meat mayo, chop the brown crab meat roughly, then mash with a fork. Combine with the mayo/aioli and seaon with salt, pepper and a dash of tabasco.
Shred the lettuce leaves thinly, then cop roughly.
To assemble, place about half a tsp of the brown mayo on the bottom of each croustade, fill the shells up with shredded lettuce about half way, then top with about 1 tsp of the crab salad. Serve within 30 minutes to an hour so the bases don't get soggy.
* The recipe for the white crab meat is adapted from Nibbled.
** The croustades (Rahm's) are available in most supermarkets in the UK and at Ikea food shops worldwide.
*** You're better off buying a whole crab and having it cooked and pitted for you - for this amount of croustades, I chose one weighing in at around 1.2 kg.