I decided to develop this recipe for my first ever Pop Up Kitchen after a recent trip to visit my Dad in Brittany. Such a gorgeous selection of seafood in the supermarket and herbs in the garden led to this starter, which is simpler than it seems and really quite delicious! The sauce is rich and luscious and the pickled apples cut through it perfectly. Give it a go and see what you think.
Crab ravioli, lemon mascarpone sauce, pickled apples, herb oil and wild garlic
For the pasta
300g ‘00’ grade flour
3 eggs (always use free range!)
For the herb oil
250ml rapeseed oil
25g flat leaf parsley
Good handful wild garlic
Good handful watercress
Salt and pepper to taste
For the pickled apples
3 x large Granny Smith apples
200ml white wine vinegar
100g caster sugar
For the crab filling
100g brown and white crab meat
250g ricotta cheese
1 tbsp dill finely chopped
1 tbsp chives finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley finely chopped
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce
500g mascarpone cheese
Juice and rind of 1 lemon (or more depending on your taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Wild garlic flowers
1. First make your pasta.
Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and add a pinch of salt. Using your fingers whisk the eggs a little before beginning to incorporate the flour. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Keep working the pasta until a rough dough forms. If it is too dry add a glug of olive oil.
Once the dough has come together tip the ball out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until glossy and springy. Place in a lightly oiled freezer bag or cling film and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
2. Next, make your herb oil.
Blanch the dill, parsley and wild garlic in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse in cold water. Squeeze out as much excess water as you can and place herbs in a blender along with the watercress and rapeseed oil. Blend until smooth and bright green. Leave to infuse for about 30 minutes. Once infused, strain the oil through a sieve then muslin to remove any impurities, add salt and pepper to taste and decant into a squeeze bottle to use later.
3. Now for the pickled apples.
Put the water, vinegar and sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a boil. Squeeze some lemon juice into a bowl or jug of water. Peel your apples and using a melon baller, carve out as many apple balls as you can per apple before adding them to the lemon juice to stop them from browning. When complete, dry the apple balls using kitchen towel or a teacloth. Once boiling, take the pickling liquid off the heat and add the apples. Let them infuse for a few minutes before putting them in a jar, covering them with the pickling liquid and leaving to cool for later.
4. Next, make your filling.
Mix the brown and white crab meat with the ricotta along with the finely chopped dill, chives and parsley. Add a pinch of paprika, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Adjust all flavourings to your liking. Pop the filling in a piping bag and put to one side.
5. For the sauce.
Tip the mascarpone into a medium saucepan and heat until runny. Add sprigs of rosemary, thyme and lemon rind to the pan and let the herbs infuse into the mascarpone for about 10 minutes, until their flavour permeates the sauce. Strain through a sieve and return to the pan, squeezing in the lemon juice and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. This sauce can handle quite a bit of lemon juice as it cuts through the richness of the mascarpone beautifully. Leave the sauce on a very low heat to keep warm.
6. Get a large pan of salted water on to boil.
7. Now to roll out your pasta.
Cut your pasta dough into 6 manageable pieces and either roll through a pasta machine to level 8 thickness, or roll out using a rolling pin as thin as you can. Cut the sheets in two and place onto a baking tray. Cover with parchment to stop the pasta drying out while you roll out the rest of the dough.
Once you’re done, take one sheet at a time and place on a lightly floured surface. Mark out the ravioli using the cutter of your choice (I use a 20mm round one, but you can use a traditional ravioli cutter if you prefer) but don’t cut all the way through the pasta. Snip the end off your piping bag and pipe the filling onto the ravioli templates taking care not to overfill them. Spray or brush the sheet lightly with water before popping another sheet on top. Take care here to try and expel as many air bubbles as possible. Next use the cutter to cut out your ravioli and put them on a lightly floured plate or board. Repeat with all pasta sheets. You should have 30 ravioli in total.
8. Finishing touches.
Once your ravioli is made, place them in the pan of boiling water for around 3 minutes until cooked but still with a little bite. While the pasta is cooking, put your sauce into a large frying pan and heat. Drain your pasta and add to the sauce, coating them gently with a spoon to prevent them from breaking.
To plate arrange 5 ravioli and 5 pickled apple balls on a plate with an extra drizzle of mascarpone sauce, herb oil, a few wild garlic leaves, sprinkling of cress and a pinch of paprika.
This is a delicious starter celebrating spring which is a lot easier than it looks to get just right! A perfect beginning to any dinner party.
Annie was born in France and moved to England at the age of 4. You may recognise her from the Masterchef competition, where she dazzled the judges with her passion and skill. Annie shares with us her love of her native France in some of her favourite recipes.