It is, of course, April Fools’ Day today, a day of jokes and pranks, etc. I feel I should post something funny or jokey, but well, let’s just say that being witty isn’t exactly my forte. So I’m not even going to try and come up with something that inevitably won’t be all that funny – I’ll leave the amusement of the day up to the BBC (though I doubt they’ll ever top their 1957 Panorama report about the Swiss spaghetti harvest). Instead, I’m going to be taking the French route.
In France, the 1st of April is know as “poisson d’avril” or “April fish,” and small children run around trying to stick or hook paper fish to people’s backs without them noticing (people they know, I should add). It makes total sense as a child. Thinking about it now though, not so much. Anyhow, let’s skip over that. When I was younger, we were never in France for the 1st of April, so I never got to partake in the whole tradition. Despite not living in France or the UK as I grew up, we still followed quite a few traditions, such as Burns Night, the 14th of July (French National Day), or Galettes des rois for the Epiphany. This isn’t one of them – try sticking a paper fish to a non-French person’s back and explaining yourself when they turn around and ask you what on Earth you’re doing? Actually, don’t. They’ll think you’re really weird, and you won’t even be able to trot out the I’m-6-years-old-therefore-I’m-still-allowed-to-do-slightly-strange-things excuse. Unless you are actually 6 years old, in which case, go right ahead and let me know how you get on (though I’m not sure why you’d be reading this in the first place…).
So rather than attempting (and failing) to be funny, I thought I’d do something fish-related (because it’s poisson d’avril – April fish. See what I did there?). I realised the other day that I haven’t had crab in forever, and thus I decided to do something with crab. So actually when I said fish-related, I really meant seafood-related – I’d be a pretty horrific Zoology student if I wasn’t aware that crabs are crustaceans, NOT fish.
I’d been thinking about chaussons aux pommes (“apple slippers” which are essentially stewed apples baked in a puff pastry casing) earlier this week and suddenly realised I could do a savoury version using crab! “Crab slippers” (cue the rather entertaining mental image of a crab wearing slippers) struck me as a suitably odd-ball name for a recipe to be shared on April Fools’ Day. I eventually realised that my awesome-sounding crab slippers were actually just crab pasties. Sad times – pasties just don’t sound quite as fun as slippers! Never mind though, the main point is that they had to taste good! I obviously needed something to go with the crab – lime and chilli appealed to me, with a touch of cream. It’s not a particularly ground-breaking combination, but I’ve never really used it before, so I decided to go for it. I made these crab
slippers pasties for dinner on Wednesday, and had the leftovers cold for lunch yesterday, and thankfully they turned out rather yummy both ways! The only serious issue that I ran into was when I tried to make little pastry crabs to top the pasties. It was too fiddly to make them anatomically correct, and they ended up with six appendages instead of ten. It was pretty traumatic so I only made one. (That’s not an April Fools’ joke by the way – that sort of thing actually upsets me…)
Crab, chilli & lime pasties
Makes 10 small pasties
Recipe from my imagination
One pasty per person would be enough for a starter, but you’ll need two per person (or even three if you have super-hungry guests) for a main course. They are equally tasty hot or cold, so perfect to take on a picnic. Ready-made puff pastry works perfectly for this recipe (that’s what I used), but make sure to use good-quality pastry made with real butter. If you have any leftover pastry, you can use it to decorate the tops of the pasties.
650g puff pastry
2 dressed crabs (about 250g of cooked meat)
2 red chilli peppers
2-3 tbsp crème fraîche
1 unwaxed lime
1 tbsp of milk
1 egg yolk
1. Butter 2 or 3 baking sheets (depending on how big they are) and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Dice the onions and allow them to soften in a bit of butter over a low heat, until just golden. Allow them to cool whilst preparing the rest of the pasties.
3. Roll out the pastry into a rectangular shape with a thickness of about 4mm. Cut out 10 squares of about 10×10 cm and lay them out side-by-side.
4. De-seed the red peppers, chop them as finely as you can and add them to a large bowl with the crab. Add the zest and juice of the lime and stir the crab mixture well. Add the onions (it doesn’t matter if they’re not fully cooled, but don’t add them if they’re still really hot), some black pepper and the crème fraîche and mix well.
5. Divide the mixture between each of the 10 laid-out squares of pastry (don’t let the mixture go right to the edge, since the pasties have to be sealed). Brush two perpendicular edges of each pastry square with a tiny bit of milk, fold the square over and seal (the milk helps the pastry stick together), using the tines of a fork to crimp the edges. If you’re adding decorations to the top, brush the bottom side of the pastry decoration with a bit of milk before sticking to the pasty.
6. Whisk the egg yolk with a few drops of water, and brush it over the pasties. Use a sharp knife to cut three small slits in the top of each pasty (I doubt you want exploding pasties), and bake for about 30 mins until the pasties are golden.