Philippa gets crabby in Edinburgh

TRAVELLING chef Philippa Davis from Shaftesbury visits some of the most beautiful places in the world, cooking for clients in locations from the south of France to the north of Scotland.

She was back in Scotland again in May, cooking for a dinner party for 18 people outside Edinburgh. After several trips to Scotland’s capital, Philippa says she is beginning to fall fot its charms – “Effortlessly classy and littered with magnificent pieces of architecture it really is a grand place. The dinner was for 18 guests and was being held just because the hosts felt like throwing a party for their friends!”

The menu began with nibbles, mini crab cakes with chili sauce, red radish with butter and salt, roast cherry tomato, mozzarella and hazelnut pesto crostini, black olive and anchovy tapenade with oregano crostini, pea, pecorino and mint crostini and smoked salmon with warm blini, sour cream and mock caviar.

The main course was rare roast fillet of beef with freshly grated horseradish mixed with crème fraiche and yogurt, goose fat roast potatoes with new season’s garlic and rosemary, green lentils with mustard and soft herbs, roast beetroots and carrots with thyme and butter, vignole (asparagus, artichokes and peas cooked in white wine, pancetta and mint) and green salad with rocket, baby gem, linseed, herbs and French dressing

Pudding was gooseberry and meringue ice cream.

Philippa has spotted a definite trend of changing the format of dinner parties. She says: “I find a surprising number of clients are keen to move away from sitting at the table for hours and labouring their way through countless courses. Instead more canapés and amuse bouches are being ordered and eaten with the pre dinner drinks, the starter skipped altogether and the main course to be served help yourself style to suit everyone’s portion control ideas. I personally think both the formal sit down and this more casual approach can work really well, but it’s about knowing your guests and how relaxed you want the occasion to be.”

Reflecting these observations, the photos show some of the delicious nibbles she served in Edinburgh, including those delicious sounding mini crab cakes.


Crab cakes with Chilli Sauce

For the chilli sauce:

1 red chilli, 
1/2 tspn sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp finely chopped coriander
1 tsp olive oil

Finely chop the chilli (discarding the seeds). Mix in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. This can be made at least several hours in advance or until you are ready to serve the crab cakes.


Crab cakes – makes 12 bite sized crab cakes or four big ones:

40g breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of paprika
2 tbsp parsley finely chopped
250g white crabmeat, in chunks
1 egg, beaten
Plain flour, to coat
Vegetable oil, to cook

Put the breadcrumbs, mustard powder, seasoning and parsley in a bowl and stir well to combine. Add the crab and stir gently. Add the egg and mix. Roll into balls then flatten gently into disks (they may seem a little fragile but they will firm up a bit and seem to hold together when cooked). Chill for 30 minutes. In a frying pan set on a medium heat add 1 tbs vegetable oil. Fry the cakes till lightly browned each side and hot all the way through ( about 1 1/2 minutes each side).

Serve immediately with a ? tsp of chili sauce on top of each and garnish with a small rocket leaf for a flash of colour.

For more recipes and Postcards from Philippa, visit