Thursday, 18 February 2010

Valentine's Dinner

As promised, here's what I made for V Day. I can't bear restaurants on the ickiest day of the year, so I made this:

Crab linguine with cream and chilli

followed by

fluffy chocolate mousse and shortbread

(all of which are Bartimaeus faves)

I used tinned crab for the linguine because I couldn't find fresh. I've come across lots of recipes that use tinned crab (I think Nigella uses it) but I've always been quite sceptical - given fresh crab can be quite fishy-smelling I thought tinned would be way worse. It was much more reasonable (£2.09 a tin, which isn't sardine priced but not bad) and  was expecting a fishy, tuna-y mush. I was so surprised to see little claw-shaped whole white chunks when I opened my tins finally (I'm left handed in everything but writing and I really struggle opening tins!) which looked like pearls! Now I'd definitely recommend tinned crab as a cheap way to get more seafood in your diet.

Crab Linguine

The recipe was one I tweaked as I went along, and goes something like this. Can I just emphasise that the parsley is pretty much essential to this dish, as is the rocket - both lift the flavours and cut the richness. It tasted kinda bland and overrich until I added both - when suddenly it transformed to deliciousness.

Serves 4


8 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chilli or 1/2 tsp crushed chilli flakes
1 large glass of white wine
olive oil
2 tins of white crab meat, flaked
200ml double cream
juice and zest of half a lemon
1 large bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped
bag of rocket leaves

dried linguine

Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a pan and fry 1 clove of chopped garlic and the chilli over medium heat. Add the crab and mix through. Leave to one side.

Fry shallots in olive oil over low heat until softened. Add 1 clove of chopped garlic. Turn up heat and add glass of wine. Let it bubble, and smell it - when it doesn't smell of alcohol anymore, it's all evaporated. Turn the heat right down and stir in the cream. In another pot, ass linguine to boiling salted water (it cooks in 6 minutes so keep an eye out and drain when al dente!) Add the crab to the cream sauce and season to taste. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir well, and chuck in the parsley.

Plate up, and serve with generous amount of rocket leaves and a lemon wedge.


This is the easiest thing ever to bake, the only thing you have to do is make sure your butter is soft (I microwave mine on the lowest setting for 30 seconds at a time because our kitchen's so cold it'd stay rock hard even if it wasn't in the fridge!)


Makes about 15 small or 10 large biscuits

125g butter, softened (I used salted because I like my shortbread salty but it's up to you)
55g caster sugar
180g plain flour

Preheat oven to 190C (gas mark).

Beat the sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy. Stir in flour a bit at a time until it mixes to a crumbly dough.

Flour your work surface and roll out the dough gently. Cut into fingers, rounds or novelty heart and butterfly shapes depending on cutters available and how twee you are. Place on greaseproof paper, prick each shape with a fork a couple of times, and sprinkle with some more caster sugar. Chill in fridge for 20 minutes and then place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden.

Don't remove from paper until fully cooled or they'll crumble!

My Fluffy Chocolate Mousse

Now this is a Gordon Ramsey recipe I tweaked so much I feel no shame in claiming it as mine. Whilst I do like a dark, rich chocolate mousse sometimes, I much prefer a lighter fluffy creamier kind. Plus Bartimaeus' favourite pudding is dunking shortbread in mousse for which, obviousement, you need a dunkable mousse. A thick chocolate pot type isn't going to get you very far, and may result in broken shortbread (gasp).

Sooo this is my version. Some of the measurements (well, the cream) are approximate because I whisked, tasted, added until I was happy with it.

100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
500ml double cream
2 large egg whites
50g caster sugar

Place chocolate into large bowl. Boil 150ml of the cream and pour over chocolate, stirring until it is all melted (if it doesn't all melt, put in microwave for 30 seconds at a time and stir every interval until it is). Cool chocolate cream over bowl of iced water.

Add rest of the cream and whisk to soft peaks (don't overwhisk or the next bit will be difficult!)

Whisk the egg whites, adding sugar, tablespoon at a time until you get stiff peaks. Fold this into the chocolate cream very carefully so as not to whip out any air.

Spoon into glasses or heart shaped ramekins, again depending on how twee you like to be with your special occasions (me, much!)

Et voila.


  1. That looks soooo yummy, i would love to try the moussse x

  2. *makes notes*

    I love crab and am also most definitely guilty of tweeness on occasion :D I love the little hearts!