Fish-dish/ Recipes/ Salads

Vietnamese Summer Salad with Dungeness Crab

Dungeness Crab with a surprising summer salad!

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and the sun is blasting down, what better way to celebrate than with this  Vietnamese noodle salad, swimming with Dungeness crab, prawns and spicy citrus dressing. Topped with crispy shallots, It’s hot, hot, hot – perfect for a summer supper in the garden!

I bought my crabmeat, prepared by a small fishmonger actually in Dungeness, a great little place with regular updates on their website about ‘what’s biting’ so you can check out the catch reports and buy seasonal fish, all caught locally.  If you happen to be down this way I also strongly recommend you check out the Dungeness snack shack and take a camera – the skeletons of boats left on the beach make for fantastic photos.


Vietnamese Summer Salad with Dungeness CrabVietnamese Summer Salad with Dungeness Crab

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Featured/ Pastry, Pies & Tarts/ Recipes

Rhubarb, Ginger & Custard Tarts

Rhubarb & Custard Tarts

Rhubarb and Custard

Rhubarb and Custard was a staple summer dessert at my grandparent’s house in Liverpool. Despite the depleted avenue, lined with military-style tree stumps, marking the remains of dog littered roots where once Dutch Elm trees had towered, slender and lofty offering dappled shade along this artery into the city, I have fond memories of the backdoor allotments alive and overflowing with the runner beans, greenhouses bursting with tomatoes.  For me, the most memorable dessert delivering vegetable (of all things…) were the large umbrella stems of Rhubarb.

I grew up here, away from my parents. My grandad took care of me and like his flowers, plants and vegetables, helped me sprout shoots of curiosity, develop and grow. I remember lying on my back, looking up being fanned by the sprawling green leaves on the end of ruby rich stems, my grandad would pass me his whittling knife and I’d slice through the stringy stem until we had at least 4 long lengths.

There was nothing fancy about the way he prepared our food in the small 2 x 2 council house kitchen. Chopped & stewed in syrupy sugar, spooned on top of deep dishes of cold custard, sat on the concrete back-step, back door ajar, looking out onto this postage stamp piece of paradise. No words necessary.

Today, like my Grandad, even the stumps of those trees are no longer present. An array of brightly coloured plastic bins stand to attention, just like the trees used to only without beauty, plastic overflowing with plastic, decay and the remnants of yesterdays microwave dinners washed down with bargain booze bottles and cheap larger cans. Apart from the constant vibrant buzz of impatient traffic, the colour seems to have leeched out, gardens, concreted and tiled over with only weeds pushing through the cracks, reminders of the life that once was, below.

If I stand on this Liverpool dual carriageway, close to the house and the life that once was, eyes closed, I can only feel the dappled flickering light through the leaves of the trees on my face, the warmth of that cold concrete step and the bittersweet waft of stewed rhubarb.

In honour of my Grandad, my tarted uptake on those familiar ingredients and fond memories – here’s to you!

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Cakes and Bakes/ Featured

Sticky Situation Date & Ginger Cake

Sticky Date & Ginger Cake

Sticky Situation Date & Ginger Cake

I associate ginger cake with a former workplace, where I ate a lot of it! Drizzled with lemon icing and dense in flavour, half spicy and peppery my memories of the ginger cake in question are mixed. Whilst the cake was good, I always found myself eating it in times of adversity. Difficult decisions, office politics, community impact, internal impact and so the gingerness went on.  So when the past pays me a visit, I’m reminded of the sticky situations still occurring there.

Eating ginger cake became a coping mechanism, as with most of my emotional traumas, I eat to recover. I know this is not always a healthy response, but it’s my response. I find it therapeutically soul cleansing and yes – it was that bad!  Turbulent, bad days, dark clouds, thunder, not my kind of weather at all…

Actions Speak louder than words…

Once my visitor had left, there was only one thing to do. I took my finger of ginger and held it up in the direction of my former workplace (which, as it  happens is not too far away, you can literally see the place peeking over my garden fence) and I set about baking, baking a ginger cake to end all ginger cakes, something satisfyingly dense and syrupy bittersweet.

I wanted to devour, lay to rest my mixed spice and my mixed feelings and put this sticky situation out of my head, and so I did…

Survival of the fittest

Above all else, self-preservation tactics and healthy sustainable working environments are some of the key elements to a happy life! In order to survive any stormy office politics be them past or present, remember this: A ginger cake shared is a problem halved! Make this – you won’t be disappointed…

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Featured/ Inspiration

World Earth Day

Today is World Earth Day, marking the 48th occurrence of this worldwide event which aims to highlight environmental issues across the globe, from water pollution and fuel emissions to global warming.

The focus this year is specifically on the End Plastic Pollution campaign, which aims to educate and mobilise people, politicians and government agencies about the dangers of fossil fuel-based single-use plastic, and promote sustainable alternatives.

UK supermarkets generate 1m tonnes of plastic packaging every year, which amounts to more than a quarter of the country’s entire plastic usage. Globally, just 9% of plastics is recycled, with 72% ending up in landfill or the sea. From the sea it gets everywhere, the bottom of the deepest ocean, Arctic ice floes, table salt, tap water, beer and the stomachs of seabirds, whales, turtles and humans.

Taken from an article written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, for The Guardian Mon 22 Jan 2018

The facts are frightening and the pictures more so! Want to make a small meaningful dent? Then ditch the supermarket plastic flow wrapped fruit and veg and buy local or the loose varieties that are stored in crates.

#smallsteps #bigissues

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