While Ellie was in Beirut and my other half was in Barbados, I was keeping it real in Blakeney. Mum, Alfred, the dog and I set off on a pilgrimage back to my homeland in a car packed to the roof with wellies, kindling, Earl Grey and prosecco. All the essentials for a cosy weekend by the fire in our rented seaside cottage. I have some very fond food memories from my early childhood in Norfolk – regular deliveries of pheasant from shoots in the woods at the back of our house, square white paper bags of bonbons and lemon sherbets from the sweet shop after school and soggy parcels of fish and chips warming my knees while crabbing with my brother in Wells-next-the-Sea. I could spend many happy hours with my legs hanging over the quay wall, waving a line baited with bacon into the water below in the hope of attracting some clawed friends. In honour of those crabs from the 80s, we stopped off at Cookie’s in Cley to buy some ready-dressed for supper.
After a delicious lunch of steamed Morston mussels and home baked bread at a friend’s house, Mum and I were in the mood for a light supper by the fire washed down with a glass of fizz. In fact, this is all Mum is ever in the mood for, rain or shine. Hors d’oeuvres or, as she jokingly pronounces them, ‘whores doovrers’ or simply shortens to ‘HDs’, and a flute of champagne are her raisons d’être (if you’ll excuse the onslaught of French terminology). Heavy food frightens her, she doesn’t eat meat and a plate unadorned with greenery can make her panic. Taking this into consideration, we popped a cork, plated up some smoked salmon and freshly peeled prawns with handfuls of rocket and lemon wedges and I took our crab towards Thailand with a fresh, spicy salad stuffed into baby gem leaves for easy, fireside eating.
Crispy crab leaves. Serves 2.
Cut 2 carrots, half a thumb of ginger, 3-4 spring onions and half a cucumber into matchsticks and set aside in a bowl. Add 2 finely chopped bird’s eye chillies (keep the seeds if you like the heat) and gently mix in the meat from one crab and a handful of toasted sesame seeds. Dress with a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of sesame oil, a teaspoon of soy sauce and a squeeze of lime. Finally mix in some freshly chopped coriander and pile into little gem leaves.
As I write, snow is falling outside and temperatures have plummeted so I’m sure the last thing you want for supper is cold fish and fizz! Although these do make great Christmas canapés to fend off the inevitable bloat. Look out for a bonus snow day blog post tomorrow which promises to warm us all up.