Creamy crab meat pasta and New Year's KonMari advice


Fish roe with sour cream, dill and onion

Seafood pasta is one of my absolute favourite foods and I can't believe I got through the entire Christmas period without cooking it once. I have many different recipes and versions. I love a simple garlicky pasta with just some prawns, or a light lemony smoked salmon one. Although to be honest I usually chuck in everything including 5 types of seafood and the kitchen sink. This also was a more robust and creamy one all based on the two crab shells full of brown and white crab meat I had in the fridge. I bought them because I didn't have any crab shells and clearly had to fix that gap in my serving dish portfolio. For instance on Christmas Eve I made crab thermidor but had to serve it from scallop shells because I didn't have any crab shells.

So to use the crab meat I did this scrumptious and creamy seafood pasta clearing out some seafood from my freezer as well since I am in a clearing mood.

January is supposed to be about resolutions, fresh starts and all that. I'm not much of a resolutionist, but I am keeping true to my "Eat-more-fish-eggs"-promise and prepared a little pot with roe, dill, sour cream and onion to take as lunch to the office one day this week. I made it with spring onion so as to not to stupefy colleagues with my fish&onion breath although should have tried if that would have stopped the boss chucking projects my way for 5 minutes.

And one evening this week we went out for dinner with some workmates and I had a lovely Spaghetti alla Bottarga con Vongole, spaghetti with dried mullet roe and clams in the lovely Sardinian restaurant Sabatini in Newcastle quayside. It was very nice.

But on top of the fish egg pledge I have one other thing that I will try this year.

Part of my packed lunch, roe with sour cream, onion and dill.
See, I want to buy some new spring clothes and I need to make space for them And also generally our house is not very Feng shui or KonMari, and I can only blame myself. 95% of the crap in the house is mine. Husband is actually a very tidy little soul.

I may not be a totally deranged hoarder, but I am not good at chucking away things. I am reasonably good at buying though, so you can see how a problem can develop here. Particularly clothes seem to accumulate. I still have a few coats I immigrated to this country with 18 years ago, one of them has a cigarette burn hole in the sleeve. One I just tried on to see if it could be binned, there were tube tickets from 2012 in the pocket (which I binned!), but the coat still looked pretty good to me, so back to the wardrobe it went.

I always think things might come back into fashion and that one day I will be desperate for a green corduroy jacket with frills around the shoulders, or a purple one (good to have a choice of colours), or 10 pairs of trousers with outrageously flared legs and of course several pyjama pants at various stages of shapelessness. I also believe it is entirely possible that my size will change at some point dramatically and that the white trousers that always made me look fat one glorious day won't or that the shoes that have been too uncomfortable to wear will one morning just miraculously fit. Particularly considering the current bunion development this is extremely unlikely.

What doesn't help is that binning things for me is a multi-stepped process. I think this should be Lean Six Sigmaed. My new boss is obsessed with Lean Six Sigma, I pretty much fall asleep at the Lea. After initially being identified for bin which is not easy, like this pair of boots I have been eyeing for a while because they are probably about 10 years old and the soles are coming off, there is a couple of weeks' cooling off period before the item is either pardoned or moved into an actual bin bag, or most likely just forgotten about. After being sentenced to the bin bag, before actual final binning the bin bag will sit in the corner of the guest bedroom for an additional couple of weeks. Sometimes items can still receive pardon even at this stage. It is rare but not unheard of. We must remain merciful after all.

This reminds me of a funny story. My then sister-in-law (she went on to cruelly divorce my amazing little brother, not because of this incident, but in retrospect she completely deserved this) was doing a seasonal swap of things in the wardrobe and had packed all her winter boots and quite a selection of handbags in a large bin bag to be taken to the basement for summer storage. She left the house (probably to buy some more shit - the materialist & shopaholic) and in the meanwhile my brother decided to make himself useful and take out the rubbish. Including the bin bag full of shoes and bags. Obviously it was the day for the bins to be collected, so before my ex-sister-in-law got back home her stuff was on its way to the landfill. Divining power of Karma.

For my current dilemma a friend pragmatically suggested maybe it's easier to find something from my husband's wardrobe that I could get rid off to make space, but I feel as I already utilise most of our wardrobe space, it is only fair I look at my own clothes for clearing out opportunity. And he is pretty good at this, I sometimes save things he's chucked and sneak them back to his wardrobe because I think they are still perfectly fine or if they are beyond that I repurpose them as attractive nightgowns or gymware for myself. Like this morning, when he wanted to throw away a T-shirt that apparently is itchy. I am not as delicate, so into my sportsware shelf it went. So that doesn't help me with my wardrobe space.

Creamy seafood pasta with fennel and dillBut I draw inspiration from one of my friends. I bet we all have one in our circle. This person's house is always clean and tidy, there are no piles of clothes on the floor next to the bed, no 10 pairs of shoes blocking the way to the door. They know where all their hair bands are and don't have to run around the house like a mad person on a bad hair day. Their bookshelf actually has only books and not random piles of crap piled on top of the books. Their kitchen surfaces are clear apart from one  rustic ceramic bowl full of heirloom tomatoes. They regularly go through their neat stacks of magazines taking the ones they don't think they will read again to their mother or recycling. Or they might give some to a friend who will keep them for the next 7 years.

They do a regular seasonal culling of their wardrobe ruthlessly chucking away anything they haven't worn in 6 months. I have stuff I haven't worn in 15 years, but still remain quite fond of, like this pretty Monsoon top that I had to stop wearing because Tomasina Miers was wearing it in her cooking program for about a year non-stop. They always have tasteful flower arrangements instead of bunches of supermarket carnations that died two weeks ago and smell like the morgue. I can kind of live with all of the above, but what is hard to take in comparison to one's own chaotic ways is that these people organise their knitting yarns in large retro glass jars by colour.

But as the excellent 80's heavy metal band Samson says, Don't get mad, get even: every New Year these inspiring people make us think we can be like them. Like this Christmas break I was full of steam, but also quite self-aware and determined not to trip because of unfeasibly ambitious plans. So I was aiming to get rid of a few pairs of old shoes (I still have my 3 previous pairs of running shoes, because what if my current pair and the two previous pairs self-destruct, what will I run with then, and also one pair has the paw mark of our beloved family labrador, who passed away 3 years ago, so how could I ever throw that away, it was a muddy run and at some point she stepped on my shoe) and clothes, and maybe organise a couple of cupboards in the kitchen. Like do one thing every day, one shelf or one drawer. In the entire 14 days of leave I managed to clean one cutlery drawer throwing away a couple of wooden spoons that had seen better days. One drawer. Not exactly a KonMari-achievement to write a blog post about.

But because I am a determined and resilient individual I have ploughed on and this week binned a pair of boots (the ones with the soles coming off) and quite a few pieces of clothing. I have two bin bags, one for the actual bin and one for a charity shop, they are both half full already.  I am getting rid of my fat jeans, because I don't want to put on weight and have to wear them, and it's a good incentive to not have any clothes and potentially have to walk around naked with your extra kilos. Also anything I haven't been able to fit into in the past 5 years will go. And anything made of polyester. I hate polyester almost as much as I hate raisins. I think it should be made illegal, evil fabric. It makes me smell like a Finnish deep fried meat pie.

And I cleared my knicker drawer just now. I refuse to wear anything uncomfortable, sorry husband, so all of the tinier models had to go.

I am also throwing away things I come across in other parts of the house. Today I binned (immediate binning!) two old empty spice jars with broken lids, some work papers from my previous job and an Italian magazine, because I don't speak Italian. Excellent work!

I will continue my clear-up on a daily basis, just a couple of things every day. I realise baby steps will always work better for me than blindly following some scary Japanese chick and her obsessive minimalist ways.

To clumsily link this pasta recipe to the theme, it's quite good because you can use any seafood that you might have in your freezer and also any pasta shape will work if you need to clear something off your pasta shelf. But mainly I'm sharing it because it's easy, quick and absolutely delicious. While still eating my pasta (third helping), I was already thinking about how after tipping the leftovers into a container for husband to heat up the next day I would leave a bit in the pot, add a couple of dashes of tabasco and scrape the rest into my mouth. I think I may need to pardon the fat jeans after all.

Creamy crab meat pasta with prawns, scallops, fennel and dill

Serves 4

200-250g brown and white crab meat
About 400g other seafood, I had 150g scallops, 150g prawns and 100g smoked salmon.
Vegetable oil
1 leek
1/2 bulb of fennel
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of chopped dill
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/3 cup of white wine or prosecco
Lemon pepper
1 cup of water
1/3 cup of single cream
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp creme fraice or sour cream (or you can just add a bit more single cream)
1/2 cup of grated parmesan or pecorino

350g dried brown spaghetti (or pasta of your choice, about 400-450g if using fresh pasta)

Fresh dill and pecorino or parmesan to garnish

Cut of the dark green end of the leak and the bottom. Cut into half lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Slice thinly. Chop the fennel.

Add oil into a large non-stick sauce pan. Add the leek, fennel and a sprinkle of salt and sauté for a few minutes. Mince ro grate the garlic and add to the pan. Chop the dill and add to the pan with the zest and juice of one lemon, some lemon pepper and white wine or prosecco.

In the meanwhile bring your pasta water to boil. Add a good sprinkle of salt and the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and keep warm.

Keep cooking your pasta sauce until the wine has reduced to half. Add a cup of pasta cooking water. Mix the flour with the cream and add to to sauce. Add the creme fraiche or sour cream if using.

Check the taste and add salt and lemon pepper if needed. Add the seafood and let cook on low heat until seafood is cooked through, this will only take a couple of minutes.

Grate some pecorino or parmesan and mix into the pasta.

Add the sauce into the drained pasta and mix. Make sure it is piping hot. Eat it all immediately!

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