Saturday, October 27, 2012

Steamed fish, spring onion sauce

A large (28cm), shallow, cast iron and enamelled casserole dish is a great accessory. You can fry in it, roast in it (I used it recently for a shoulder of lamb) make stews in it, and use it for large gratins; because of its size, you can easily transfer it from the stove top to the oven. Because of its weight, you can keep things warm in it for a while. So, for example, I was able to drain off the sauce from my roast lamb, carve the lamb and put the pieces back in the casserole and cover them, finish the sauce, and then pour the sauce back over the lamb for serving. Had I felt it necessary, I could have warmed the carved lamb and sauce on the hob.

The dish will also contain large fish fillets, and keep them warm while you make a sauce.

2 fish fillets (I had smoked haddock)
1/3 pint of milk
A few peppercorns
A bay leaf
A scraping of nutmeg
Salt (smoked fish will already be salty)
18g unsalted butter
1dstsp flour
4 spring onions, chopped

Put the fish in a heavy dish or saucepan, and cover with the milk. Add the peppercorns, bay leaf, nutmeg, and salt (if using).

Cover the pan, and put it over a medium flame on the hob. Check to see when the milk starts simmering, and when it does turn down the flame to its lowest (with the pan still covered). The fish should be tender about five minutes after the milk simmers.

Meanwhile, make a roux: melt the butter in a small saucepan over a gentle heat, add the flour, and cook gently for a minute. The mixture should be the texture of loose sand. Add more butter or flour as necessary. Set aside.

Remove the fish to a chopping board or plate, strain the milk into a jug, return the fish to the pan or dish, and cover.

Put the pan with the roux back on the hob, above a medium heat. Stir in the milk from the jug, a little at a time, incorporating each portion before adding the next. After the second or third addition, throw in the spring onions, which will throw off liquid and thin the sauce. Keep adding milk until you have a sauce of a texture you like, adding more from a bottle (or carton) if necessary.

Serve the fish with the sauce poured on top.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chorizo sauce for pasta

For 2

4 chorizos (the uncooked kind)
Olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large red onion, sliced
1 large red pepper, deseeded, cut into fork-size pieces

Chorizos, unlike ordinary sausages when cut up, do not have a tendency to stick to the pan. You may not get a sauce flavoured with crusty bits, but you do get the paprika-spiked oil that the sausages release.

How you cut them up is a matter of taste. You may like discs; I prefer to skin them, and chop them into small pieces.

Put a splash of oil into a heavy pan over a gentle heat. Throw in the chopped chorizos, and fry them gently until they lose their raw colour and throw off their oil. You may find that you now have plenty of oil with which to cook the garlic, onion, and pepper, which you add to the pan now, with a little salt. Stir everything, and cover the pan, cooking the contents gently until the onions and peppers are soft. If they exude a lot of liquid, evaporate it by uncovering the pan while you cook the pasta.

I like conchiglie (shells), or tortiglioni (big tubes, larger than penne), with this.

Of course, numerous variations are possible. You might, for example, add cumin (1tsp), throwing it into the pan and frying it for a minute before adding the vegetables. You might heat up the sauce with dried chillis, or with a tsp of harissa, stirred in once the onions and peppers have started to collapse.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spiced salmon

For 2.

1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1 heaped tbsp Greek yoghurt
1/2tsp turmeric
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 salmon fillets

In a small saucepan over a gentle heat, lightly toast the cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds. Ground them in a mortar. Mix these spices with the yoghurt, and stir in the turmeric, cayenne, ginger, and salt. You’ll have a stiff paste. Smear it over the salmon. Leave the marinated fillets in the fridge for a few hours, if you have time. (The yoghurt will help the marinade to penetrate the fish, to a certain extent.)

Bake the fillets in a gas mark 6/200C oven. They should be ready in 10-12 minutes.

I didn’t have any lemon or lime. But the fish would have benefited from a squeeze of juice before serving.