Philippa Vine’s recipes offer a taste of the sea

It was first thing Saturday morning and I was heading off to the beach.

There were no children, buckets and spades – but rather just my basket and shopping list, for I was after crab from my favourite seafood shop, which is literally on the shingle of the beach in Eastbourne. I had set off early and expected to be the only one in the shop, so I was taken aback to have to join a queue although it was heartening to see people up and about early to buy freshly caught fish rather than shopping in a supermarket.

I was buying crab and I have to admit that I asked for it to be dressed – as, while I’m happy to butcher farm animals, I’m not so confident about cutting up what’s come out of the sea.

When dressed, the crab yields a tasty combination of nutty creamy brown meat and sweet tangy white meat, which I think is the equal of the far more expensive lobster.

The only drawback of this “poorman’s lobster” is that once you’ve got the meat out, it does look like an unappealing pile of muscle fibres and so needs using in a recipe that improves its appearance. While you could wrap it in filo pastry or mix it in fish cakes, I’ve chosen to put the brown meat into a quiche and serve the white meat mixed with mayonnaise and chopped parsley on the side.

Pesto is really easy to make and transforms the humble potato into a tasty dish to serve with the crab. Pesto is also great stirred into pasta to make a quick tea for the children when they come home from school.

I hope the Turkish yoghurt cake with strawberries looks as good in the photograph as it did on my kitchen table, even though I say so myself. It makes a great centrepiece for a party.

Crab Quiche

Serves 8

  • You will also need: 10in x 1-and-a-half in loose-based metal tart tin
  • 1 cooked crab, weighing 650-750g
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml (½ pint) double cream
  • A small clove of garlic
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of good-quality mayonnaise
  • Chopped parsley
  • For the shortcrust pastry:
  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • 150g (5oz) butter
  • 1 egg

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles crumble. Add the egg and mix to a dough. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before using. Pre-heat the oven to 190C (375F, Gas mark 5). Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin. Prick the base, line it with parchment paper and scatter with baking beans, bake blind for about 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Prepare the crab in the usual way, keeping the brown and white meat separate. Crush the garlic and combine with the brown crab meat, the eggs, mustard, lemon juice, cream and seasoning. Decrease the oven temperature to 170C (325F, Gas mark 3). Spoon the filling into the tart case and bake for 25-35 minutes until the filling is just set. With the white crab meat, mix together with the mayonnaise and chopped parsley. Allow the quiche to cool a little but serve warm with a spoonful of the white meat mixture on the side. Delicious!

New Potatoes with Peas and Pesto Dressing

Serves 8

  • 1.25kg Jersey Royal or Charlotte potatoes
  • 175g (6oz) fresh new peas
  • 30g (1½ oz) grated Parmesan
  • 25g (1oz) fresh basil
  • Black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Place the Parmesan, garlic, basil and pepper into a food processor and process until everything is finely chopped. Slowly add the oil to the bowl as it continues to process. Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked. Drain. Cook the peas in boiling salted water. Drain and add to the potatoes. Stir the pesto into the potatoes and serve.

Turkish Yoghurt Cake with Strawberries

Turkish Yoghurt Cake with Strawberries

Serves 8

  • You will also need a spring-form cake tin 23cm in diameter. Line the base of the cake tin with parchment paper and butter the sides and base.
  • 5 eggs
  • 125g (4½ oz) caster sugar
  • 110g (4oz) plain flour
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) plain thick yoghurt
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F, Gas mark 4). Whisk together the eggs and caster sugar, using an electric whisk until they are pale and frothy. Sift the flour and fold all the ingredients together gently until well mixed. Transfer to the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes to one hour. It will puff up, then subside – this is natural. Allow to cool.

For the syrup:

  • 75ml (2½ fl oz) water
  • 125g (4½ oz) caster sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon rose water (optional)

Boil together all the ingredients to make a syrup. Allow to cool.

To finish:

  • 450g (1lb) strawberries
  • 200ml (7fl oz) thick cream
  • Rose petals (optional)

Halve the strawberries if they are large and decorate the top of the cake. Spoon the syrup over. Spoon the cream onto the strawberries and decorate with the rose petals.

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