The crab, ricotta and chive mixture for this recipe can be made into a tart or individual souffles. The tart gives you more options - it can be served warm or at room temperature - while if you make souffles, you'll need to serve them straight from the oven.

Crab, ricotta and chive tart (pictured)

Buy canned crab meat that needs to be refrigerated - not the shelf-stable stuff.

For the pate brisee:

360 grams plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for rolling the dough

½ tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp granulated sugar

250 grams unsalted butter, chilled

About 80ml ice water

 

For the filling:

250 grams ricotta cheese

2 cans (about 170 grams each) of crab claw meat

2 large eggs, at room temperature

The finely grated zest of two lemons

60ml cream

15 grams chives (don't use Chinese chives)

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

About 10ml olive oil, for brushing

Make the pate brisee first, so it has time to chill. Put the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into 1cm chunks, put them in the food processor, then pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Transfer the ingredients to a large bowl, add the ice water then mix lightly with your fingertips until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened and form a cohesive dough that's neither sticky nor dry. If needed, drizzle in a little more ice water. Briefly knead the dough, then divide it into three even pieces. Shape each piece into a flat disc, wrap it in cling-film and refrigerate for at least an hour. You'll need only one piece of dough for the tart; the others can be frozen for several months. (If you don't have a food processor, thoroughly combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl, then add the chunks of cold butter. With your fingertips, break the butter into small pieces the size of peas, then add the ice water and proceed as instructed above.)

If the dough has been chilled for longer than an hour, let it rest briefly at room temperature until it's slightly pliable. Roll out the disc of dough so it's about 3mm thick, lightly dusting the work surface and dough as needed so it doesn't stick. Gently fit the dough into a fluted tart pan that's 23cm to 24cm in diameter and about 2.5cm high. Without stretching the dough, gently settle it into the contours of the pan. Double over the edges of the dough and press firmly so they adhere, then trim off the excess flush with the edge of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Use a fork to poke holes at 1cm intervals over the base of the dough. Press a sheet of aluminium foil over the dough and fill it with uncooked rice. Bake at 200 degrees for 15 minutes then carefully remove the foil and the rice. Turn the heat to 180 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes, until the surface of the dough is dry and very pale golden. Take the tart shell from the oven and let it cool to room temperature; turn the oven back to 200 degrees.

While the tart shell is baking, start preparing the filling. Put the ricotta in a colander and leave to drain off for 30 minutes. Put the crab meat in a small colander and drain for 15 minutes. Pick through the crab and remove about 20 pieces of intact leg meat, and set this aside to decorate the tart. Put the ricotta in a bowl and whisk in the eggs, lemon zest, cream, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt (or more to taste) and some freshly ground pepper. Use kitchen scissors to snip the chives into 5mm pieces. Add the chives and crab meat to the bowl and mix them into the other ingredients. Pour the mixture into the baked tart shell and decorate the top with the reserved crab meat. Bake at 200 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the heat to 180 degrees and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the filling is set - it will be just a little wobbly at the very centre. Cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the outside of the tart ring. Use a pastry brush to gently brush oil over the surface of the tart. Slice the tart into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Crab, ricotta and chive souffles

This souffle mixture doesn't rise as much as those made with bechamel and a higher proportion of egg whites, so I like to use flat ramekins, rather than deep ones.

250 grams ricotta cheese

2 cans (170 grams each) of crab claw meat (or use one can holding 250 grams)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

The finely grated zest of two lemons

60ml cream

15 grams chives (don't use Chinese chives), snipped with scissors into 5mm pieces

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slightly softened butter and fine dry breadcrumbs, for coating the ramekins

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Rub butter into the interior of four or five ramekins that hold 200 to 250 grams each, then coat lightly with breadcrumbs and shake out the excess. Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into a small bowl and the whites into a clean, dry medium-sized bowl.

Drain the ricotta and crab meat, as in the first recipe. Whisk the ricotta with the crab, egg yolks, lemon zest, cream, chives and some black pepper. Add three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt to the egg whites. Use a clean, dry whisk to whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gently fold them into the crab mixture, maintaining as much volume as possible. Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins and bake at 200 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the heat to 180 degrees and bake until the souffles are puffy, gently set and golden brown on the surface. Serve immediately.

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