Thai Inspired Crab Noodle Soup

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Having just returned from my parent’s home in beautiful Pembrokeshire, my freezer is now stocked with a plethora of home-caught crustaceans courtesy of my fisherman father. He put the boat to sea for the season while we were there, and P and I were on board for the first lobster pot pull up! Here she is enjoying the ride.

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I decided to dress one of the edible crabs as well as a spider crab to use some of the white meat in this humble yet incredibly satisfying crab noodle soup.

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Firstly, dress the crabs. If you’re unsure how to do this Delia’s step by step photographic instructions will guide you through it. The most important thing to remember is don’t eat the gills, or dead man’s fingers as they’re more commonly known. Although not actually poisonous, they’re very tough and hard to digest.

Once you have a bowl of nice white flakes of meat in front of you you’re ready to proceed with the soup.

Firstly, I boiled the shells in a pan of water for a good hour to give me a nice light stock.

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I drained the boiling stock, through a sieve and into a jug which had a bundle of flat rice noodles in it. The reason for soaking the noodles in stock rather than plain water is because, in my opinion, it allows them to absorb extra flavour as they soften.

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While the noodles were soaking I fried off some finely minced lemongrass, galangal, garlic and shallots in a little coconut oil.

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Once softened I added a couple of minced Thai chillis (don’t go overboard as you don’t want to drown out sweet and subtle flavour of the crab).  Once the noodles were soft, I fished them out of the stock and put them in a bowl before pouring the stock into the pan. At this point I added a tablespoon each of fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and light soy sauce, some lime leaves, a small chunk of rock sugar and about 100ml coconut milk. Simmer to allow the flavours to get to know each other before seasoning further with lime juice, salt and pepper. For extra protein I threw in a handful of frozen prawns (fresh would be best in this instance, but unfortunately I only had cooked in) and some of the crab meat.

Once I’d ladelled the broth over the noodles, Thai basil, chopped coriander, spring onions and a sprinkling of red chilli finished it off nicely. Delicious! Even our 5 year old enjoyed it!

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Wild garlic butter

It’s that wild garlic time of year again. If you haven’t seen it, chances are you will have smelled its heady aroma if you’ve been anywhere remotely rural.

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Today at the park, we happened upon a nice patch of it, its delicate white flowers in full bloom. DD couldn’t resist having a nibble on a few leaves, but I had plans for the remaining few we had picked.

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You may remember last year I did a post called Four Ways with Wild Garlic, well this is my favourite wild garlic recipe. It also happens to be the quickest and simplest, yet undoubtedly the most versatile.

Very finely chopped 5 or 6 fresh wild garlic leaves and throw in a bowl with 150ml (or so, this definitely doesn’t have to be exact) of double cream and a large pinch of salt (we tend to use Pink Himalayan salt because of the mineral content).

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Whisk and whisk and whisk until the buttermilk separates from the butter. This will splatter so it’s a good idea to cover the Kitchen Aid, or whatever you’re using to whisk, with the guard and a clean tea towel for extra protection.

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Once the butter and buttermilk have separated, pour the mixture into a bowl lined with a tea towel or muslin and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. You’ll end up with a delicious ball of green flecked garlic butter. 

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You can use it as it is, or you can put it on some greaseproof paper, roll it out into a sausage shape for easy slicing, and pop into the freezer for as and when you need it.

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It’s delicious on potatoes, for frying mushrooms, on bruschetta and kneaded into bread dough good rich, tasty garlic bread. The list is endless. Enjoy!

Rose hip and Manuka Honey Syrup

Rose hips have long been used as an immune system booster, reportedly containing 50% more vitamin C than oranges. It’s no wonder these shiny little autumnal powerhouses have been made into syrup and gleefully spooned into mouths winter after winter.

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Instead of using just sugar for the syrup I decided to experiment with Manuka honey to really give this syrup a health boosting kick.

Unfortunately, I only had a small amount of rosehips, but that’s part of the fun of foraging I guess, making the most of what the land gives you.

Wash the rose hips and cut in half removing the furry whiskers where the stalk attaches (don’t worry too much if you miss a few as we’ll be straining through a muslin later). Throw them into a saucepan, seeds and all, and cover with boiling water. The exact amount really doesn’t matter too much at this stage. Boil for 15 minutes before breaking them up a bit with a potato masher (obviously do not drain). Once mashed, boil for another 5-10 minutes. Add more water at any time during this process should it be evaporating too quickly.

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After 20/25 minutes line a sieve with a clean tea towel or muslin and drain the mixture. Let it sit there until the pulp is cool enough for you to squeeze the remaining juice out of.

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Now, pour the flavoured water into a measuring jug and take note of how much liquid you’ve got. How much sugar and honey you add depends on how sweet and thick you want the syrup. I ended up with 250ml water and added two tablespoons of sugar and two of honey. I poured the water back into the pan with just the sugar and allowed to come to the boil and reduce. I purposely didn’t add the honey at this stage as I wanted to limit the amount of damage done to the goodness of the honey through the heating process.

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After about ten minutes I added in the two tablespoons of honey and allowed it to melt into the mixture without boiling.

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The result is delicious! I put it in a sterilised jar and will be looking forward to enjoying a teaspoon or two a day be it over yoghurt, in my morning smoothie or simply off the spoon.

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Spiced Elderberry Cordial

We were having a little trundle along a canal tow path this afternoon when we happened upon a cluster of elderflower trees, and the berries were just about ripe.

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After filling a bag up, we headed home where I gave them a good wash and removed the berries from the stalks by running a fork though them (think brushing knotty hair with a comb!).

I’d thought about doing a flavoured gin with the berries, but alas, didn’t have enough gin in, and didn’t fancy heading out to the shops, so I found a basic recipe for cordial online, but changed it up a bit. This cordial really is a taste of Autumn with its warming spice and rich flavour.

After washing the berries and removing them from the stalks, put them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Quantity really doesn’t matter here, just put enough water in to cover them. Add in a couple of cinnamon sticks, star anise, a few cloves and the rind of a lemon and boil, stiring occasionally, for twenty minutes.

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When the twenty minutes is up, strain the mixture through a muslin lined sieve into a jug. Squeeze the muslin to get as much juice out of the berries as possible, before discarding.

Make a note of the quantity of juice before pouring from the jug into a clean pan. Add in an equal quantity of sugar, I used half caster and half demerara, and the juice of one lemon.  Let it boil for about 15 minutes, stiring occasionally until all the sugar has dissolved and the cordial is syrupy. Decant into a sterilised bottle and leave to cool before storing in the fridge.

This is delicious served warm, or cold over ice with sparkling water or lemonade. It’s also delicious added to a G&T or martini.

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Four ways with Wild Garlic

Over the Easter weekend some friends and I went to a nearby beauty spot for a picnic and a paddle in the river. As the kids were happily splashing about a couple of us snuck off to do a spot of foraging for wild garlic. We certainly weren’t disappointed…

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It was there in abundance. We gathered some up and discussed potential recipes on the way back to the others.

Simple Garlic Butter
Once home I made some garlic butter to keep in the freezer simply by softening 500g salted butter in the Kitchen Aid, and adding in a large amount of finely chopped wild garlic. On greaseproof paper, I moulded it into a loose sausage shape, rolled it up in the paper and froze. That way I can slice off a knob as and when I need it (to make slicing easier dip the knife in boiling water to heat it up). So far I’ve used it in twice baked sweet potatoes, as a base for flatbread pizzas and simply on toast! Delicious!

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Smokey Bacon and wilted Wild garlic
On Sunday, I used some of the remaining garlic as a side dish for our Sunday roast by dry frying some smoked Streaky bacon, then adding in a couple of large handfuls of roughly chopped garlic.  It wilts down the same way spinach does so use more than you think you need. Season with cracked black pepper, but go easy on the salt as the bacon is often seasoning enough. I didn’t manage to get a pic I’m afraid.  Needless to say, the guests loved it, as did I.

Wild Garlic Pesto

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My friend Sam, has a superb recipe for pesto, which is simply delicious on pasta, in gnocchi, on bruschetta, drizzled on salads, pretty much on anything really. Be sure to have a gander at her new blog Me and My Second Self, you won’t be disappointed!

Wild Garlic and Asian Aromatics infused Coconut Oil
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I love Thai, Vietnamese and Asian style food in general and thought it’d be great to have a jar packed full of Asian flavours on my counter, ready to be dipped into any time without the hassle of having to chop everything from scratch.

I buy my coconut oil from Mother Nature’s Goodies on ebay

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I very gently melted in a bain marie until it was pretty much all liquid.

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While it was melting, I gathered the other ingredients: galangal, minced ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, chillis and of course fresh wild garlic.

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Chop all the ingredients except the lime leaves, very finely and place in a sterilised jar.

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Pour over the melted coconut oil, seal and leave to set.

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The flavours will infuse and intensify and it makes a great base for any Asian style recipe.

Enjoy, let me know if you try any of these recipes and be sure to check out Sam’s blog.