Resident "Foodie" for The Balcony Gardener

I was recently asked to be resident "foodie" for the delightful Balcony Gardener's Blog.  I jumped at this opportunity as it forces me to take a couple steps away (albeit a teensy shuffle) from the comfort of my Caribbean fare and work with seasonal garden produce, as well as other seasonal, easily accessible food.  But do not be too concerned, Dearest Reader, as I always find a way to bring my 'tropicalism' to every plate...  (so, below, we have crab and a kick of spice, tenuous, but nevertheless...its a start!)

I have popped the first post, below for you, but you can follow the blog here :  http://www.thebalconygardener.com/archives/category/recipes/

“It certainly cannot be me alone, but I am finding that I can hardly take a step in a supermarket without walking into a display of beautiful, stalky green, asparagus! (And it isn’t only because I am the most clumsy clutz in the Planet!). Lo and behold, it is that time of the year, the righteous season of Asparagus.

When the lovely Balcony Gardener asked me to be the resident food blogger, I thought yes, let me impress with the most diverse recipes, using extreme seasonal produce that no one has heard of, let me promulgate the Masterchef-esque smearing of plates, the dishes served “three-ways”, the cascade of extreme jus. But that totally defeats the purpose of creating seasonal recipes for the everyday household. Let’s just make some good food that makes you want to go back for seconds.

So here we are, one of the nation’s favourite produce, with another seasonal goodie, crab, a pairing made in heaven! You may eat this soup hot off the stove, or chilled with a squeeze of lemon. Perfect for when its 23°C one day, and 9°C the next.”

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Asparagus soup, hot or chilled, with crab biscotti (serves 4)

For the crab biscotti:

  • 135g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp mixed, dried herbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1.5 tbsp caster sugar
  • 56g room temperature, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 30g crab meat
  • sea salt and pepper

For the asparagus soup:

  • 500g asparagus, chopped, (discarding white tough ends, reserving the tips)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1l vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tsp chopped chives
  • 100ml double cream
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper

For the crab biscotti:

Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

Mix together the flour, herbs and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together.

To the sugar and butter mixture, beat in the egg until well mixed.

Pour in the flour mixture, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon, until a dough forms.

Using your hands, bring the dough together, kneading, into a ball, (using flour on your hands to stop the dough from sticking, if necessary).

Flatten the dough into a rectangle, with a length of about 16cm, and a thickness of about 1.5cm.

Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool, then with a serrated knife, carefully slice into inch-thick slices.

Place the slices, cut side down, back onto the lined baking tray, and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden.

Allow to cool completely on a rack. Then serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for later.

For the asparagus soup:

Heat a glug of oil in a large saucepan.

Add the chopped onion and celery and soften for about 10 minutes, do not brown.

Add the chopped asparagus, cover the pan and allow to sweat on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the flour, then pour in the stock and the chopped chives, bring to the boil and then lower the heat, cover the pan and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand-held blender, or transfer to a free-standing blender, until smooth.

Place the soup back onto a low heat, stir in the reserved asparagus tips, the cream, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and season to taste.

Serve immediately, or cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge, and serve as a chilled soup.