The good people of the north Norfolk coast in the east of England treat this delicious crab with the respect it deserves. The smokehouse in Cley and Jonas Seafood in Cromer sell dressed crab and lobster meat.
And if you find yourself with some of this delicious meat follow the general tradition, and soften it with cream diluted in juice or wine, add something tangy and something spicy, then pot it.
500 g crabmeat
300 g unsalted butter
90 g butter, for clarifying*
90 g sour cream / crème fraîche
30 ml lemon juice / white wine
2 lemons, zest
10 g paprika powder
Nutmeg, large pinch
White pepper, pinch
Melt the butter in a frying pan over a low heat, add zest and paprika, remove from heat.
Whisk cream and juice or wine into a froth.
Stir crab meat into the spiced butter, place in a bowl and allow to cool, then fold in the frothy cream, season.
Spoon into earthenware pots or ramekins.
Clarify remaining butter, pour over potted crab to seal in the flavour.
Chill in refridgerator for two or three hours.
Traditionally served with hot toast.
*This stage can be omitted if the potted crab is to be eaten after it has chilled. Cover each pot or ramekin with foil.
Meat and potato pies are a traditional dish of northern England, especially the counties of Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, where meat and potatoes have always formed the basis for a hearty meal. Packed in a pastry the meal becomes portable.
These pies have never been a home-baked product, largely because they have always been ubiquitous in the cafe and chip shop culture of north-west England, Holland’s version being the most popular of the mass-produced brands.
Made with beef, potato and yeast extract in a shortcrust pastry, Holland’s meat and potato pies are also synonymous with sporting events.
Meat and potato pies, as they are known today, began as a workhouse product, are probably related to Irish mutton pies, and were hardly known as a recipe in cookbooks.
Charles Elme Francatelli in his A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, published in 1852, described a meat pie and a potato pie.
Of whatever kind, let the pieces of meat be first fried brown over a quick fire, in a little fat or butter, and seasoned with pepper and salt; put these into a pie-dish with chopped onions, a few slices of half-cooked potatoes, and enough water just to cover the meat. Cover the dish with a crust, made with two pounds of flour and six ounces of butter, or lard, or fat dripping, and just enough water to knead it into a stiff kind of dough or paste, and then bake it for about an hour and a-half.
Slice up four onions and boil them in a saucepan with two ounces of butter, a quart of water, and pepper and salt, for five minutes; then add four pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut in slices; stew the whole until the potatoes are done, and pour them into a pie-dish; cover this with stiff mashed potatoes, and bake the pie of a light brown colour.
Our version has an Irish stew filling and a peppered crust.
Meat and Potato Pie with Peppered Hot Pastry Crust
1 kg potatoes, peeled, quartered
750 g lamb, cut into 2 cubes
750 g onions, chopped
30 g black pepper, freshly ground
25 g salt
This is essentially an Irish stew recipe. The quantity is much more than you will need for the filling. Arrange lamb in the bottom of a large pot, turn heat to medium and allow fat to run out of the bones. Stack potatoes on top of the lamb, then the onions and seasoning, more pepper than salt. Fill the pot with water, three-quarters up to the level of the onions, bring to the boil. Cover, turn heat to lowest setting and cook for three hours.
The result should be a thick meat and potato stew, with the onions completely melted.
450 g strong white wheat flour
150 ml water
125 g lard
10 g black pepper
10 g salt
5 g icing sugar
Bring the lard and water to the boil.
Sieve flour and salt into a large bowl, add pepper and sugar.
Pour the hot liquid into a well in the centre of the flour, and using a sturdy wooden spoon quickly form into a soft dough.
Divide dough into eight equal pieces (approximately 90 g each), cut again – two thirds for the base, one third for the lid.
Push the dough into the bottom and sides of small deep pie tins, diameter 8 cms.
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Pack the tins with the filling, roll the remaining dough out, place over the top of the filling, crimping the edges. Pierce a hole in the centre of the lid.
Reduce oven temperature to 180°C, bake for 90 minutes.
Once upon a time travellers on Norwegian Railways sleeper trains were handed special tickets by the train chief. ‘These are for your breakfast, go to the hotel across from the station,’ the chief would explain to bemused travellers. The sight on arrival in the grand hall of the grand hotel was a grand breakfast, an assortment of hot and cold foods that had no rival anywhere in the world. Sadly this tradition has lapsed. On the sleeper trains between Oslo, the capital of Norway, and Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim and between Trondheim and Bodø in the far north, a modest breakfast is served onboard. The grandiose buffet breakfasts are becoming a thing of the past, but some hotels are clinging to tradition by presenting modest grand buffets. Think of every possible breakfast food that is served across Europe, add the Norwegian love for loaves and fishes, cheeses and crispbreads, bacon and eggs, pickles and potatoes, and then something you never imagined.
Fishes – Klippfisk (cod), Lutefisk (lyed cod or ling), Sild (herring)
Leverpostej (liver paste)
Lefse (potato flatbreads)
Smoked bacon, grilled to a crisp
Smoked salmon, with lefse or toast
2 Welsh Breakfast
Bacon and eggs are a traditional breakfast throughout Europe, cockels and laverbread less so. In south Wales the sands stretch the length of the Gower peninsula. This is the cockel shore – a place of the laver. Laver is a soft purplish sea vegetable found at Atlantic shores, picked from rocks at low tide. It is thoroughly washed in two changes of water, drained, cooked and sold dried or fresh.
8 slices smoked back bacon
400 g laver pulp
100 g oatmeal
Combine laver pulp and oatmeal, shape into 5 cm wide, 2 cm thick cakes. Fry bacon, remove, allowing fat to drip into the frying pan, keep warm. Bring heat up, wait until the bacon fat is starting to smoke, then fry the laver cakes, two minutes each side. Serve with bacon, sausages and poached (or fried) eggs … And fresh cockles.
3 Irish Breakfast
4 mackerel, filleted
90 g butter
Boil the potatoes in their skins. Pan-fry the mackerel in half of the butter, skin-side down first. Serve with the potatoes, split in half, a little butter in each.
4 Sicilian Breakfast
2 squid, cleaned, cut into small pieces
2 lemons, juiced
45 ml olive oil
5 g chilli flakes
Water, for boiling
Bring water to the boil, heat oil in a deep frying pan. Place squid in the boiling water, boil for 90 seconds, then transfer it to the frying pan. Flash fry squid, about three minutes, adding the chilli after two minutes. Deglaze pan with lemon juice, pour over squid, serve.
5 French Breakfast
4 slices thick country bread
4-6 slices streaky bacon
1 lemon, juiced
15 ml anchovy sauce
Pepper, large pinch
4 wooden skewers
Shell the oysters, soak in the anchovy sauce and lemon juice. Season, wrap a piece of bacon around the oyster, skewer, four to each stick. Toast the bread and place the oyster wraps under a hot grill for two minutes.
6 English and Scottish Breakfast
600 g haddock / smoked haddock, cut into chunks
500 ml chicken stock
350 g long grain rice
2 eggs, hard-boiled
75 g onion, chopped
25 g butter
5 g parsley, chopped
5 cardamoms, crushed
3 g cinnamon
Turmeric powder, very large pinch
Water, for boiling
Sauté onion in butter in a large frying pan for ten minutes, add bay leaf, spices and seasonings. Stir rice into the onion mixture, add stock, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Simmer haddock in water for five minutes, flake and set aside. Chop eggs into small pieces. Stir the eggs, fish and parsley into the rice, heat through, season.
7 Swedish Breakfast
2 litres water
250 g smoked salmon, sliced thin
4 slices wholewheat bread
10 g salt
Black peppercorns, crushed
Salt the water and bring to the boil. Break an egg into a small bowl, carefully let it slip into the water, reduce heat and poach for three minutes, remove with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper. Repeat with remaining eggs. Toast bread, place a poached egg on each slice, garnish with equal amounts of the salmon and a sprinkling of black pepper.
8 Turkish Breakfast
1 kg Black Sea anchovy fillets
250 g corn / maize flour
4 lemons, juiced
Pour flour into a large bowl, dredge anchovies through flour, place side by side on plates. Heat oil, fry anchovies until crisp, drain. Serve with lemon juice.
9 Greek Breakfast
The art of preparing octopus for the grill has consumed the time of Greeks for centuries. The tenderising process alternates between pounding, freezing, baking, marinating and slow cooking. Yet the one method that remains infallible is drying the whole fish under a hot sun in a light breeze.
1 kg octopus, sun dried
60 ml olive oil
30 ml vinegar
2 lemons, juiced
1 tbsp oregano
Blend the oil and vinegar, cut the octopus into pieces. Marinade in this mixture for an hour. Grill under a high heat for three or four minutes until the flesh is tender. Serve with vinaigrette of lemon juice and oregano.
10 Russian Breakfast
Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat describes caviar as ‘the last legendary food of modern times’. Traditionally caviar was made from the roe of wild sturgeon in the nutrient rich Caspian Sea.
It came in four varieties: –
Beluga (pale to dark grey eggs from the larger fish, up to 1000 kg).
Oscietra (various coloured eggs from the smaller fish, 300 kg).
Sevruga (dark grey to black eggs from the smallest fish, 60 kg).
Sterlet (a very small sturgeon that is almost extinct).
Seruga is thought to be too strong for a breakfast caviar, beluga too rich, which leaves oscietra, a light nutty caviar. Because of its flavour, roe from the Icelandic capelin is accepted as caviar and suitable for breakfast.
80 g oscietra caviar / black capelin caviar
45 ml kefir
45 g flour
10 g sugar
Baking soda, large pinch
Oil, for frying
Whisk the kefir into the eggs, season, add flour and soda to make a smooth batter, leave to froth. Heat some oil in a hot frying pan, pour a tablespoon of the batter into the centre of the pan, remove from heat. When holes form on the surface, flip over, and after a few seconds press with a spatula into the pan, putting it back on the heat for a minute. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with the caviar.
The fish pie of Britain is an enigmatic creation, the roux the only constant over the generations. Good mature cheese has always been seen as the secret ingredient by some cooks while others insist the true secret ingredient has always been anchovy essence. A covering of riced potatoes would appear to be more traditional than the pastry cover. A stock made with fish will give the pie more flavour, yet once again there is some dispute whether this addition is truly traditional. Fish other than cod or white can also be found in some versions, as well as mushrooms and tomatoes.
2 kg assorted haddock, hake, herring, mackerel, white fish, filleted, cut into large pieces
1 kg potatoes, cooked whole, skinned, riced
500 g smoked haddock, filleted, cut into large pieces
600 ml milk
200 g mature semi-hard cheese, grated
40 g butter
40 g flour
30 g oyster sauce
6 anchovies / sprats
30 g parsley, chopped
15 g black pepper, freshly ground
Make a light roux. Remove pan from heat, whisk milk a little at a time into the mixture. Back on the heat bring to the boil stirring constantly. Turn heat to low, stir in half the cheese. Add parsley and pepper, allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Arrange fish in ovenproof dish, pour sauce over fish and finish with potato and remaining cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes until crisp and golden, and piping hot in the middle.
A delicacy of the northern coastal regions available in commercial form as fingers, the fish cake of England has remained a popular traditional food. Generally it is a combination of white fish, oily fish, smoked fish and crabmeat. As a handmade product it is an elaboration. The breadcrumbs should come from a white crusty bread allowed to rest for a week to reduce the moisture content.
The fish should be fresh, especially the mackerel, but frozen white fish is permitted. Fish cakes made with crabmeat and mackerel will trump anything else.
The anchovies are an old tradition, as essence whereas now they can be made with filleted anchovies in oil from cans or jars. The potatoes should be versatile or waxy. Some versions add a little butter and milk to the mash.
Traditionally fish cakes were small and fried.
We have made them large and baked!
800 g potatoes, cooked, mashed with 30 g butter and a splash of milk
700 g crab, hake, haddock / smoked haddock, mackerel / smoked mackerel, poached in fish bouillion, flaked
140 g breadcrumbs
3 egg whites
3 egg yolks
16 anchovies, chopped small
15 g chives / parsley, chopped small
10 g black pepper
5 g salt
Work anchovy, egg yolks and chives or parsley into the mashed potatoes, season and gently work in the fish flakes. Preheat oven to 200°C. Shape into 260 gram cakes, coat with egg whites and breadcrumbs. Place on greased tray. Bake for 40 minutes.