This is the first course, and the very special dessert from our Christmas Eve feast. The first course is a crab salad with a cucumber jelly, it’s very fresh tasting – after discussing it a bit, John I think it might be more amazing if madras curry powder was added to the dressing, so you may want to taste the crab and decide for yourself. The dessert is pears poached in Sauvignon Blanc, saffron and star anise. You serve it with a dollop of creme fraiche, and garnish with leftover roasted chestnuts.
Crab Salad with Cucumber Jelly, and Baby Arugula – 2 servings
1 cucumber, peeled
1 packet of gelatin
Few sprigs of dill
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon whole-grain dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces crabmeat
1 cup baby arugula
Slice a few rounds of cucumber, about 1/16 inch thick. Cut into narrow strips, and then cut diagonally, to make small cucumber diamond shapes. You need enough to garnish a plate, so not much. Food process the remainder of the cucumber, then strain in a very fine mesh strainer, over a bowl. Repeat this process if needed, reserve juice, and throw away pulp. Combine gelatin powder and about 1 cup of cucumber juice, whisk until powder dissolves. Divide gelatin mixture between two shallow dishes/bowls. Garnish with cucumber diamonds and sprigs of dill. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until firm.
In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream until it forms ribbons (not peaks). Whisk in mustard, salt and pepper. Add the crabmeat to the bowl, and using a spatula fold gently to bind the salad.
Toss the baby arugula with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
If you have a ring mold handy, place ring mold delicately on gelatin, fill with the crab salad. Use stamper to even out, or use the back of the spoon to spread evenly. Top with baby arugula, remove ring mold. Repeat with the other dish, and serve immediately.
Poached Pear with Saffron, Star Anise and Creme Fraiche – 4 servings
2 star anise
2 cups dry white wine (sauvignon blanc)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
4 firm pears, peeled, stems intact
Roasted chestnuts (if desired)
Combine the star anise, wine, sugar, lemon juice, saffron, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, and bring to a simmer. Add the pears; add enough water to completely submerge pears. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer for 15 minutes, flip pears, continue cooking until pears are tender, for another 15 minutes (total 30 minutes).
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a plate. Increase heat and boil poaching liquid until reduced to 1/2 cup, 20 minutes.
Spoon some of syrup into a bowl, top with warm or room-temperature pears, drizzle a little more syrup over. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, and garnish with a roasted chestnut.
Happy Cooking friends!