Guest Food Blogger Jo Orr: The first signs of spring


After last weekend’s feasting I wanted to bring you a couple of light, fresh dishes that you may even be able to eat in the garden if this warm sunshine continues. There were rusty orange crabs sitting like kings on their mounds of ice in the fishmonger this morning. Fresh in from Cornwall, apparently.

I flash back to last Summer, the kids wading between rock pools, trying not to slip on the silky seaweed, searching for the crabs they’d seen coming off the fishing boats earlier that day, having to make do with red bucketfuls of tiny limpets instead!

I love food’s ability to not just satisfy in the moment of eating but to set off little chain reactions of memories and associations in your mind’s eye, making the experience all the richer. I end up buying some pre-prepared crab (for ease) and several king crab legs to satisfy the kids’ desire to have a go at teasing out the sweet white flesh with toothpicks. I pad out the expensive crab meat with rounds of crisp radish and pencil-thin spring onions and serve the crab in lettuce ‘cups’. Topped with a dressing that is zingy with chilli, lime juice and fish sauce each mouthful is a fresh, crunchy and sweet delight.

For dessert I make little puff pastry slices, like mille feuilles, but with two layers rather than the traditional three and using a yoghurt-based filling instead of the usual pastry cream, which can be a little rich and heavy for a light lunch. You can sprinkle any topping you like onto the iced halves- I chose toasted coconut, pomegranate seeds, sliced raspberries and lavender sugar. Next time I might try  a few pink peppercorns or some toasted almond slivers.

Likewise, with the filling you can try the yoghurt and mascarpone mix, or you could go for swirls of whipped cream if you want something more voluptuous. You could stir a teaspoon of espresso through the cream and sprinkle the top with cocoa for a mocha version. The choices are endless!


Main: Crab and Radish Salad with Nam Jim


500g white crab meat, 5 radishes- sliced, 6 spring onions, bunch of coriander, 1 garlic clove, 1 red chilli, juice of 2 limes, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp palm sugar, 1 tbsp nam pla, 2 round shallots.

Make the dressing: in a small bowl put 1 tbsp of finely chopped coriander stalks, one crushed garlic clove, finely chopped shallot, nam pla, lime juice, salt, rings of red chilli, palm sugar and 3-4 tbsp finely chopped coriander.

Whisk together and check the seasoning, adding more lime or salt according to taste.
Slice the spring onions and radishes and stir these through the crab meat- then place mounds of the crab onto your lettuce cups on a platter and drizzle with the dressing.
Dessert: Vanilla Yoghurt Pastries with Raspberries


1 sheet of puff pastry, punnet of raspberries; for the icing- 60g sifted icing sugar, 1 tbsp thick vanilla yoghurt; for the filling- 200g thick vanilla yoghurt, 100g mascarpone, 40g icing sugar; for toppings- 1 tsp pomegranate seeds,1 tsp toasted coconut, 1 tsp dried lavender, couple of sliced raspberries.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the sheet of puff into 12 rectangles measuring 4cm by 12cm.

Place these rectangles on baking parchment on a baking sheet, cover with another piece of parchment and another baking tray (you want the puff pastry to cook but not puff up too much).

Bake for 12 mins then remove the baking tray and extra parchment sheet and bake for another 6-8 minutes or til the puff is golden.

Set aside for 10 mins to cool.


Meanwhile make the icing- in a small bowl sift the icing sugar and mix with a spoon of yoghurt.

Once the pastry is cool, smooth 1 tsp of icing onto the top of 6 of the pastry rectangles. Leave to set.

For the filling- place the yoghurt, mascarpone and icing sugar into a bowl and mix well to remove any lumps. Spoon onto the remaining 6 rectangles of pastry and dot with raspberries then sandwich with the iced halves and add your various toppings.

jo-orr-deserrt-02More of Jo Orr’s lovely recipes can be found on her blog here


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