James Street South Cookery School: Baby gem with crab and chilli, mixed berries and lemon curd trifle

Baby gem with crab and chilli canapés
Niall McKenna

BETWEEN summer schemes, holiday camps, sleepovers, birthday parties and generally keeping the peace, these months off school can be trying for any parent, whether at home full time, working or running a number of restaurants – cough.

For this reason, I always like to keep a selection of recipes up my sleeve that can be easily prepared in advance and whipped out with little to no notice.

Whether for a party, starter dish or barbecue, the crab and baby gem canapes are a classy option while the desserts are great as these can be waiting patiently pre-set in the fridge. Oh, and kids – of all ages – love them!


(Makes 12 individual canapés)

1 baby gem lettuce, washed and dried

Crab mix:

1 onion, finely diced

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 bulb fennel, finely chopped

1 lemon

1 lime

1 small bunch thyme, bay leaf

2 tblsp sea salt

2 medium sized crabs or 300g picked white crab meat

Mix with:

2 spring onions, chopped

50g fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 tsp red chilli, chopped

2 limes

4 tblsp mayonnaise

3 sprigs fresh coriander


3 egg yolks

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 lemon, juiced

450ml olive oil

For the mayonnaise, place the egg yolks and the mustard in a food processor and whiz on slow, adding the olive oil gently and the lemon juice. As the mix thickens add the oil a little quicker – you don't want this to split. Season with salt and pepper and place in fridge.

If you plan to use fresh crab, place the crab in a pot of boiling water with the chopped onions, celery, fennel, lemon, lime, herbs and salt and cook for 15 minutes. Leave to cool in the water, then break down and remove the crab meat. Twist off the legs and claws and push out the body section. Remove as much white and brown meat as you can. If using picked and prepacked crab meat, skip that.

To make the dressing for the crab, chop all the ingredients into small pieces and mix with the crab meat. Then add in the mayonnaise and mix thoroughly.

To serve, place your baby gem salad leaf on a platter, top with a spoonful of the crab mayonnaise and dress with the coriander.


(Serves 2)

For the berries:

1 punnet of blackberries,

1 punnet of blueberries

1 punnet strawberries

1 punnet raspberries

250g sugar

Lemon curd:

4 lemons, zest and juice

200g unrefined sugar

3 eggs

1 egg yolk

100g unsalted butter

For the berry mixture, bring all the ingredients to a gentle simmer in a saucepan. Cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid turns jammy and the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

Place the lemon zest, juice, sugar and butter into a mixing bowl and place over a pan of water on a gentle heat. Stir thoroughly until the butter has completely melted.

Crack and beat the eggs and additional egg yolk and stir into the lemon mix and whisk until all the ingredients are completely combined; leave on the gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mix should become creamy and thick.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, stir occasionally and spoon into glasses, the lemon curd first. Place in the fridge to set. After an hour add the berry mix and place back into fridge. When ready to serve crumble digestive biscuits on top.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access


Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: