Paul Flynn Crab Brulee

Happy New Year everyone and I hope 2012 brings all you wish for!.
I spent yesterday and today preparing the starter course for a New Years Eve Celebration we are going to tonight as well as all the food for a family gathering we are having in our house on New Years Day.  It has been a busy day preparing 22 portions of The Tannery’s Crab Crème Brûlée with Pickled Cucumber as well as, for New Years Day my favourite beef stew, a potato and butternut squash vindaloo for my veggie sister and I will also be serving the boned and stuffed turkey legs I froze just before Christmas. I’m really looking forward to New Years Eve tonight and seeing all my family including all the nieces and nephews so all the cooking will be worth it to be together and enjoy each others company as it has been a number of months since the last gathering. I’m off the hook for dessert as one of the family is bringing one so I can have an extra half hour in the bed New Years Day!….That said I did have a chocolate hazlenut cake in the freezer so I cut and covered in chocolate ganache just to have a choice… it looks delicious and just the right portion size for such a rich cake.

If you don’t already know the Brulee then I think you are in for a delight. It has pickled ginger in it which adds a lovely taste as well as cutting through the cream and this continues with the cucumber salad. The melba toast is a lovely retro touch which really reminds me of my mum’s dinner parties when I was growing up when I used to love helping her. I was lucky enough to spend 2 days down at The Tannery with Paul Flynn and this is his recipe. It looks great and tastes really yummy, it is also quite easy to prepare since everything can be done in advance. It is served at room temperature so you can be in with your guests instead of slaving over a hot stove shouting at them from the kitchen. While Paul states that this serves 4 as a starter I used the smaller ramekins as it is quite rich and served 8 from this.  I loved my 2 day cookery workshop with Paul and was delighted to also get his book as part of my Christmas present – An Irish adventure with food.

Crab Crème Brûlée

400 ml (1 3/4 cups) cream
1 egg & 2 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped (or grate it directly into the custard mixture with a Microplane grater)
2 tablespoons pickled ginger, drained and finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150 g (1 cup) picked white crab meat, finely chopped
50 g (1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan
pickled cucumber, to serve (see below)

Place the cream in a bowl with the eggs, garlic, pickled ginger and some salt and pepper and mix well. Add in the crab meat, ensuring there is no shell, and mix well again. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to allow the flavours to infuse for at least 30 minutes, but ideally up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).

Ladle or pour the mixture into the ramekins, making sure you get an even amount of crab in every ramekin, as the crab tends to fall to the bottom. Place the ramekins in a roasting tray. Fill the tray with warm water until the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place this bain marie in the oven and cook for 45 to 60 minutes (check after 40 minutes). They will be done in less time if you get 8 portions out of the mixture.

When cooked through, the mixture should be set but still have a slightly wobbly consistency. Remove the ramekins from the bain marie and allow to cool — the crab crème brûlée should be served at room temperature.

When ready to serve, sprinkle a very thin layer of Parmesan on top of each ramekin and brown under the grill. Serve with pickled cucumber and really thin Melba

Pickled Cucumber
1 cucumber
pinch of salt
50 g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
50 ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce

Slice the cucumber as thinly as you can (a mandolin or food processor’s slicing attachment is perfect for this job). Place the sliced cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt. Set aside.
Bring the sugar, vinegar and chilli sauce to the boil and reduce for 30 seconds. Take off the heat and allow to cool completely. Once it’s cool, pour the liquid over the cucumbers and stir gently to coat them all. This will keep in the fridge for 2 or 3 days — any more and the cucumber loses its colour.

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