Crab and sea veg tagliatelle

As an island nation, we should take great pride in the bountiful seafood around us. Shellfish and several tasty species of fish are abundant in our waters and have been nourishing the British population for many years. 
Sadly, much of the seafood is falling out of favour and we are shipping a large proportion abroad to be sold on foreign markets. As much as 80% of British crab, for example, ends up in far flung destinations.
This of course, is a total shame because crab is insanely nutritious. Zinc, selenium, copper and B vitamins are all abundant in these tasty crustaceans plus there is plenty of protein to boot.
Above all, you can use crab meat to create delicious dishes, such as this, in 10 minutes flat.
This beautiful recipe was one that I used at the Tatton Park Food & Drink Festival and it vanished pretty quickly, so as crowd approval goes, let's just say it's a goodie.

CRab linguine wide.JPG

Ingredients for 2:
160g tagliatelle
100g asparagus, sliced
150g frozen peas
100g brown and white crab meat (I used Seafood & Eat It Fifty Fifty Cornish crab from Waitrose)
25g sea vegetables (optional - I used a mix of samphire, sea aster and sea spray which I found near the herb section of Sainsbury's, they add crunch and a subtle salty flavour)
juice and zest of a lemon
1 clove of garlic, crushed
a pinch of chilli flakes
a knob of butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Bring a pan of water to the boil. Drop in the tagliatelle nests and cook according to packet instructions.
Whilst the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the asparagus, peas, garlic and chilli flakes, season well with sea salt and black pepper and cook for a few of minutes until the peas have defrosted and the asparagus is cooked.
Grate in the zest of a lemon, stir and squeeze in the juice of the lemon.
Take the pan off the heat, stir in the crab meat and sea vegetables, if using, and mix well.
Once the pasta is cooked, move the tagliatelle to the pan with the crab using a slotted spoon. Add a splash of the water that the tagliatelle cooked in to loosen the crab sauce and put back on a medium heat for 30 seconds. Season with more freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Green veg frittata

Few other recipes tick so many boxes as a breakfast option as this green vegetable frittata.
Those of you that follow my Instagram account will know that breakfast is not my strong point. Not being a breakfast or morning person means I either grab a protein smoothie or rely on something that has been prepared in advance. This frittata makes the perfect prep ahead option.
It's high in protein which stops sugar cravings later in the day and provides tons of nutrients from the various green vegetables within it.
The recipe is versatile, most vegetables go and the type of cheese can be swapped pretty easily too.

Ingredients to make 8 slices (1 slice with a side or 2 slices on their own are the ideal portion)
12 eggs, lightly beaten
150g asparagus, roughly chopped, woody ends discarded
sliced florets from half a head of broccoli (150-170g)
150g frozen peas
two large handfuls of spinach (100g approximately)
125g of feta
two teaspoons of rapeseed oil or a knob of organic butter
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
grated zest of half a lemon

Method:
Preheat a grill to medium.
Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the broccoli, asparagus and peas and cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Season well with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Stir in the spinach, season again and grate over the zest of half a lemon. Cook for another minute until the spinach wilts.
Pour in the eggs and give the mixture a stir to evenly distribute the vegetables. Cook on a medium heat until the edges are firm (the centre will still be liquid), approximately 10-15 minutes.
Crumble the feta over the top and transfer the pan to under the grill. Grill for 10 minutes until the egg mixture is firm and the feta turns light golden around the edges.
Remove from the pan and either eat immediately or slice it up, allow it to cool and refrigerate.
The frittata keeps well in a fridge for up to 3 days.

 
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Dining at The Botanist

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sampling the newly launched menu at The Botanist, West Bridgeford. Before we begin, I must confess that reviewing restaurants is not my usual thing, I'd much rather rabbit on about the benefits of rabbit food, but it seemed like a wise idea to make an exception.
So if you aren't going to read anymore, let me sum it up: The Botanist is the kind of place where you can go with friends, family or colleagues. Cool, just on the right side of edgy and with a menu extensive enough that everyone will find something to tickle their taste buds.

Upon arrival, we were entrusted with a comprehensive menu of alcoholic beverages. Not knowing where to start, our ever helpful waitress, Becky, recommended the 'Pots & Planters' section for cocktails with a wow factor. The raspberry Disaronno sour was an especially triumphant concoction with dry ice delivering show-worthy amounts of smoke and a flavour akin to sour raspberry sweets.

For the purposes of this review, I was not going to be an easy customer. Although I'm not vegan, I recognise that our plant-based friends are often shunned when it comes to dining out so with that in mind, I based my selection on vegan meals.
My companion was not so easily convinced so he opted for meat-based options for the sake of balance.

The chosen vegan starter was a tempura-fried cauliflower, tenderstem broccoli and kale manchurian with sweet and sour sesame dipping sauce. It was substantial, crispy and the perfect finger-food to get the dining experience started. 
The guy opted for crispy calamari which was equally tantalising with plenty of flavour from the fajita salt and accompanying guacamole.

The mains followed in quick succession: for me a harissa aubergine steak with Israeli couscous, grilled baby gem and tahini and for the guy a flat iron steak sandwich. 
For the sake of total transparency, the harissa aubergine steak was delicious but the Israeli couscous could've done with a little (okay a lot) more flavour. The idea was great, I mean how many restaurants consider a totally different vegan main as opposed to putting some vegetables on a plate like an afterthought, but the execution does need improvement. Luckily there are plenty of other vegan options and the meat-based main of flat iron steak sandwich was a total taste sensation.

It's true that the best is often saved for last and for The Botanist's menu this was no different because the desserts were a thing of beauty. Sadly my original vegan choice of homemade banana doughnuts was not available so I found myself veering off course with a vegetarian peanut and chocolate brownie cake accompanied by salted caramel and vanilla ice cream. The guy opted for baked chocolate chip cookie dough with toffee sauce and salted caramel ice cream.
The desserts were good. Very good. Ok, maybe excellent. It would probably be worth visiting just for the desserts.

The positives are:
- the vibe is cool
-  the waiters and waitresses are very knowledgeable (Becky, our waitress was full of energy and made some great recommendations, which at the risk of sounding old, I recognise is a rarity these days)
- the music is awesome and the venue has been transformed with interesting botanical decor
- irrespective of your dietary requirements you will find something on the menu that ticks all the right boxes
- the cocktail list is extensive and some have a real wow factor

Negatives:
I admit I was picky but the vegan main I chose could do with improvement. Other than that it's a thumbs up.

For menus or to book a table, visit http://thebotanist.uk.com/

Rocket pesto, butternut squash, goats cheese

Big news: I'm in possession of a brand new, shiny Canon Eos 77 DSLR camera (that I have no idea how to use). This marks the end of an era of phone photography so to celebrate, I'm giving the trusty iPhone one last job having created this rocket pesto, butternut squash and goats cheese dish.
This recipe is the result of discovering a big bag of rocket that needed using up asap and there was no better way than to turn it into a delicious pesto. 
The quantities aren't exact but the recipe is flexible with no need to measure anything. 

 
Rocket pesto v2.JPG
 

Ingredients (feeds 2)
For the pesto:
2 large handfuls of rocket
1 handful of cashews
100ml of rapeseed or good quality olive oil
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic
A pinch of sea salt

For the salad
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into cubes
Rapeseed oil
Sea salt and black pepper to season
A pack of purple sprouting broccoli
Liberal amounts of goats cheese to sprinkle on top

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Drizzle the butternut squash cubes with some rapeseed oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Roast until fully cooked (30 minutes approximately).
To make the pesto, put all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until roughly combined. Don't overprocess it since it should be a chunky consistency not a puree. 
Blanch or steam the broccoli.
To assemble, put the butternut squash and broccoli on a plate. Top with chunks of goats cheese and drizzle over some rocket pesto.

Choccy Flapjacks

These chocolatey flapjacks are such a treat.
They are super easy to make and are a good addition to picnics or as a healthier afternoon snack.
Plus, they look awesome:

choccy flapjacks.JPG

Ingredients:
200g oats
grated zest and juice of an orange
1 tsp cinnamon
100g sultanas
100g Munchy Seeds Choccy Apricot, can be substituted with 50g each of chopped apricots and dark chocolate chips or 100g of chocolate chopped into small chunks
50g coconut oil
5 drops of vanilla extract
3tbsp agave, honey or maple syrup

Method:
Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper & preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Melt the coconut oil and agave in a small pan over a low heat, whisk in the vanilla and juice of an orange.
Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to combine.
Press into the loaf tin and bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden.
Allow it to cool completely before slicing.