Monday, 11 April 2011

Liberty launch and crab cakes with red pepper dip and avocado salsa

Today we visited Liberty. Not for shopping (well, not specifically for shopping, though of course some was done whilst there) but for a personal project that we've been working on with them. 

Without boring you with the intricate details we've sold in a range of original Parisian artworks, beautiful creations that were hand made to brief for some of the worlds most known and loved fashion designers between the 20's and the 90's. Pretty exciting stuff really.

My parents are in possession of nearly 500 of them and we've already sold 60 ahead of the opening date. Without being all Hannah-the-Planner about it buying one is chance to own an original piece of creative Parisian history, one that unites art, design and fashion. Ok, pitch over.

Well nearly - here's the link to our site should you like to download the full collection (prices available on request) or if you fancy a look at them in the flesh, they're currently residing on the 4th floor at Liberty, looking rather splendid.

As well as installing the artworks out of hours (it felt a thrillingly eerie being alone in the closed store) we did a little bit of eating too.

Plum Valley. Good friends of mine wont find this a surprise, I hold them in very high regard and think they're the best dim sum Ive ever had in London (even though I am unable to eat chillies at the moment). On this lively Sunday night in Chinatown we squeezed into a dark booth and ate our way around the dim sum menu, all were a delight but the black cod and ginger was the star of the show.

Right next door to Liberty is a great place called Flatplanet. They serve spelt flat breads with a variety of organic toppings and were the perfect way to begin Monday with their breakfast creation, along with some great coffee inside their quirky, cool little cafe. If I lived locally I think I'd be in there daily.

After some shopping in Liberty followed by hanging out in the sunshine and having some cocktails we strolled over to Pho, the restaurant dedicated to (and named after) Vietnam's most well known street food. There we shared a large bowl of the beautiful rich but light beef stock with rice noodles, steak, mint, holy basil and coriander. The liquor was incredible (if they bottled it I'd buy it) and I have returned with new insight into the dish - expect a recipe very shortly.

I sat on the train on the way home making notes about new dishes I wanted to create, combinations of flavours to try based on what I'd seen this last 24 hours. Such sessions usually make me impatient as I want to eat the new ideas there and then, but tonight on the way home this feeling escaped me - for we had sat patiently waiting for us in the fridge some little crab cakes I'd made on Sunday morning ready for our return.

The secret with cooking these and achieving a light but crisp outer is to chill them enough to really firm them up - so a couple of hours is ideal but if you can make them the day before (good for forward planning and preparing) they'll be perfect.

For 9 cakes and food for 3:
Two baking potatoes, baked and cooled
3 slices white bread, crusts removed and left to go stale before blitzing into crumbs
300g white crab meat
10 large king prawns, pulsed in a food processor briefly
1 spring onion
A handful of fresh basil leaves, rolled up and finely sliced
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Juice of half a lemon
A generous handful of fresh parsley finely cut
Three red peppers, cut into broad strips
3 tablespoons natural yogurt
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
1 avocado, diced
5 medium sized tomatoes, diced
Half a clove of garlic, finely diced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
Plain flour for dusting
Unsalted butter and groundnut/sunflower oil for frying

- Cut the peppers into strips, dress with some olive oil and roast until they begin to char at the edges in an oven at 180 degrees. Once done remove and leave to cool
- Place 2/3 of the peppers into a food processor and blitz, adding the yogurt and some salt and pepper, then decant into a bowl ready for later. Reserve the remaining third of the strips for once the dish is done.
- In a separate bowl combine the chopped tomatoes, avocado, garlic, rice vinegar, a slug of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper, mix together and set aside
- In a mixing bowl combine the crab, mustard, parsley, lemon juice, spring onion, king prawns, bread crumbs, mashed potato and salt and pepper and mix together with a fork until all the ingredients are combined but still separate. Using your hands bring the mix together into the crab cakes. Set aside on a plate and chill them for at least 2 hours, or up to 24. 
- When you're ready to cook them remove from the fridge and lightly dust all over with plain flour
- Heat a frying pan on a medium heat with a knob of butter and frying oil, and once it starts to foam place the fishcakes into the pan. Fry on each side for 4-5 minutes then they'll be ready
- Plate the cakes, dot the red pepper dip around the plate and then follow that with the avocado salsa, then place the remaining sliced and roasted red peppers on the top of the cakes and finally the shredded basil leaves

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