We did a seafood themed-dinner the evening of Christmas Eve and one of the dishes we prepared was this number from Jamie Oliver.
It is something I have wanted to try for a while and with a beautiful side of salmon right from the fish markets (we doubled the recipe) it was a real hit: the sauce, the pastry, the thick, flaking salmon and the wonderful watercress and spinach filling.
Complete with Christmas pastry-work by Nat, it looked and tasted just like Christmas and it was just as good as a cold snack on Boxing Day.
I’m slightly sad thinking it will be almost a year until I can cook this number again…
My fourth Bill Granger dish from his book, Everyday Asian.
And with a ‘great’ recipe strike-rate of three out of four and an easiness factor of ten out of ten, Bill Granger is officially no longer the suspect cook I had him for prior to cooking from this book. Going forward, i’ll trust him at his word and cook his recipes without worrying.
Donna Hay on the other hand…
Anyway, this is another really healthy, really tasty weekday number. The salad is really fun and served with some rice and a glass of white, this is a great couch/dinner/TV dish.
4 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 salmon fillets, skin off
The Boathouse – that wonderful restaurant right on the water at Blackwattle Bay in Glebe, Sydney – is famous for its snapper pie.
And it is a truly wonderful dish; sweated onions, cream, truffle oil, snapper and amazing pastry served with a smoked tomato and a simple mash. Yum.
Though they have another classic and one that Nat and I have ordered the two times we have had lunch there: the Salmon Roe & Potato Blinis with Wasabi and Crème Fraiche.
They are just awesome. And the presentation is like theater.
A bowl of the roe, chilled on ice; the small blinis, fluffy pancakes, served hot to allow the crème fraiche to melt. The wasabi and then the roe.
Eaten whole, the sensory experience is everything. Ditto the taste experience.
So set the task of doing the amuse bouche for a lunch at my parent’s place, I asked Nat what she thought we should do and immediately she answered this recipe.
Easier said than done right?
I pushed back on the basis that we didn’t have a recipe etc. though I should have known that it wouldn’t be that simple.
Shortly thereafter – pretty much on schedule – Nat had tracked down the blini recipe on some chef’s recipe organiser website and the rest was pretty straightforward.
It is in fact a simple dish and I promise that the recipe below perfectly recreates the dish at The Boathouse. Stunning.
You should make around 40 or so blinis and then factor in a teaspoon of crème fraiche and roe for each, with just a dash of wasabi.
Casually pull these out at your next dinner party and people will think you’re some kind of cooking prodigy.
1.2kg potatoes 3 whole eggs 500gm crème fraiche 175gm plain flour
175gm egg whites (whipped to a firm peak) (about 7 – 8 eggs in my experience)
300gm salmon (or trout) roe 4 lemon halves, tied in a muslin cloth to serce
Peel and cook the potatoes. Puree, ideally through a ricer and allow to cool.
Whisk the whole eggs and 100gm of the crème fraiche into the potato puree.
Once smooth, fold in the flour.
Gently fold in the firm egg whites.
Heat a non-stick pan (you don’t really need to oil it and you don’t want your blini to be greasy) over a medium heat. Form the blini into small discs – small pancakes – around 4cm in diameter. Cook for three minutes each side and then set aside.
When ready, heat the oven to 180c and reheat the blini so that they are hot through.
In separate bowls, serve the wasabi, the remaining crème fraiche and roe and then serve a dollop of each on the blini. A dash of lemon juice and serve to your amazed guests.
What a simple, fabulous French dish. And so old school as well!
It is from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells, a book I am dying to cook more and more from.
Just read the ingredients, put a bottle of French white on ice and slice the bread. This is a late Sunday lunch and snooze wrapped up.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 eschallots, finely minced
4 medium tomatoes (peeled, cored, seeded and chopped)
½ c crème fraiche (I used double cream for sake of avoiding a delicatessen)
4 salmon fillets, with skin attached
1 large bunch of fresh basil, minced
Preheat the oven to 165c.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet or solid saucepan. When the oil is hot, though not smoking, add the eschallots and sauté until soft, but not browned; around 2 – 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until much of the liquid has cooked away; about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the crème fraiche. Cook just long enough to heat the cream, and set aside.
Brush the salmon and skin with the remaining oil. Heat an oven-proof pan over a medium-high heat. (The best way to achieve a crispy skin is to use a copper or metal bottomed pan, ensuring the fish is sufficiently oiled, and pressing the skin into the heat for 20 seconds.)
Adding no oil, cook the salmon, skin down for 2 minutes. Season with salt. Turn the salmon over and cook for 2 more minutes, seasoning with salt again.
Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until opaque.
To serve, stir the basil into the sauce. Spoon several tablespoons of sauce in the middle of the plate and place the salmon on top of the sauce. A crack of pepper and serve with crusty bread.
Classic Rick Stein at his best, Nat and I served this at a lunch with our parents and it was a homerun; ditto the meeting of parents.
Apart from the delicacy and taste of this recipe, best is that you can make most of the sauce in advance, giving plenty of opportunity to fend off the continual barrage of humiliating stories being gleefully shot across your bows by parents:
“I remember when Robert wrote off a car…”
“Ha, that’s nothing, I remember when Natalie wrote of a yacht…”
“Tiny compared to when Robert…”
750gm salmon fillet
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Champagne and chive sauce
30g unsalted butter
1 French shallot, finely chopped
100ml champagne + 1tbsp
600ml fish stock
½ tsp caster sugar
50ml double cream
2 tsp chopped chives
Cut the salmon fillet into 12 escalopes; slices length ways, around half a centimeter thick. Brush each one with oil, season with a little salt and lay on a slightly oiled tray.
Melt 10gm of the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add 1 finely chopped shallot and cook gently without colouring, until soft. Add 100ml of champagne and boil for 2 minutes. Add the fish stock and the sugar and boil rapidly until reduced by three-quarters. Add the double cream, bring back to the boil and then simmer until it has reached a good sauce consistency.
Keep warm (whilst defending your reputation).
Whisk together another 50ml double cream with 1 tbsp champagne and the chives until it forms soft peaks.
When you are ready to serve, pre-heat the grill to high and bring the sauce back to the boil, whisk in 20gm butter, then the whipped cream mixture.
Grill (or pan fry) the salmon for 30 seconds per side until just firm.
Overlap the escalopes in a center of each warmed plate and pour the sauce around. Sprinkle with a few chopped chives and serve immediately while the sauce is still foaming.
All I can say here is don’t judge a recipe by it’s cover.
Because what this recipe seemingly lacks in ingredients it quite commensurately makes up for in flavour and of course, ease of preparation.
Celeriac might be a bit hard to find – as hard as finding a Harris Farm – though that really is the hardest thing about it all. And at about 300 calories each for the celeriac and maybe another 200 for the salmon, it is a healthy dinner to boot.
This dish really surprised us. Very pleasantly so.
2 salmon fillets
700gm celeriac, peeled to remove all the skin and cubed
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
100g baby spinach leaves
Pinch of sugar
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Brush the salmon lightly with olive oil and season. Set aside ready to grill.
Boil the celeriac until tender; about 12 to 15 minutes and drain, reserving 1 tbsp of the water.
Whisk together the mustard and lemon juice, sugar, 1 tbsp olive oil and season.
Heat the grill or a pan and cooked the salmon on both sides for a few minutes and cooked to your liking.
Return the celeriac to the pan and mash; alternatively, use a food processor or a ricer. Heat the celeriac over a low heat, adding the spinach until it is wilted. Stir through 1 tbsp mustard mixture and reserved water and season.
Spoon the mash onto two plates, place a salmon fillet on top and splash with the remaining mustard mixture.
If you’re ever short of time, money and find yourself surrounded by 6 hungry people, the fastest ‘gourmet dish’ you can prepare is a tandoori chicken, or lamb. Put yoghurt and tandoori paste into a plastic bag with the meat (chicken strips, lamb cutlets etc), shake it all around and then BBQ.
People will think you’re a genius.
This particular dish is great not only because it’s just as simple, and not only because it is tandoori salmon but because of the rice. It is worth every effort.
1 tbsp tandoori paste
¾ c (210g) thick Greek-style yoghurt
4 x 175g skinless salmon fillets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon, plus wedges to serve
3 green cardamom pods, bruised
3 whole cloves, bruised
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 ½ c (300g) Basmati rice
Combine the tandoori paste and ½ cup (140g) yoghurt in a bowl. Coat the salmon and set aside until ready to cook.
Heat oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, zest and spices then stir for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add rice, stir once to coat in oil mixture the stir in 2 ¼ cups (560ml) water and a little salt. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes until liquid absorbed.
Remove from the heat and set aside, covered for 5 minutes until rice is tender. Stir in lemon juice and coriander.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the grill to high. Place salmon on a foil-lined tray and cook under the grill for 6-8 minutes, turning once, until lightly charred and cooked through.