Saturday, November 29, 2014

Salmon and spring onion fish pie

This is a simple fish pie for a family Friday supper. The spring onions are a nice contrast with the blandness of the fish. By “a bunch”, I mean of the slim ones you find in supermarkets. Serves 3 to 4.

Maincrop potatoes – 2 medium ones for each person
Large chunk of butter
Salmon fillets – about 350g
1/2pint milk
A dozen black peppercorns
A few scrapings of nutmeg
28g butter
1tbsp flour – I used gluten-free
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
1tbsp Parmesan

Peel the potatoes, cut them into smallish pieces (about 8 for a medium-sized potato), put them into cold water with about a tsp of salt, bring to a simmer, and simmer until soft. Drain, and mash – I use a potato ricer. Beat in the amount of butter you like, with salt to taste. If the mash coheres, you don’t need milk.

Put the salmon into a saucepan, pour over the milk, and throw in the peppercorns. Over a medium heat, bring to a simmer, and cook at a very gentle simmer for just a few minutes, or until the salmon has lost its raw pinkness. (You may want to cover the pan if the fish is not submerged – in this case, just leaving the fish to cook with the heat turned off will work.)

Lift out the fish with a slotted spoon. Remove the skin, and break up the fish into fork-sized pieces.

Strain the milk into a jug. Melt the butter in a non-stick, small saucepan over a gentle heat. Stir in the flour, and allow this roux to cook gently for a minute. Turn up the heat, and add the milk gradually, merging the roux and milk completely before adding the next batch. Keep adding milk (and more if necessary) until you have a thick sauce (which the onions and salmon will thin).

Mix the sauce, salmon, and spring onions, and tip into an oven-proof dish. Cover with the mash, and sprinkle the Parmesan on top.

Bake in a gas mark 6/200C oven for 10-15 minutes. You want to get the heat through the dish, but not to overcook the salmon. Brown the top under the grill.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hummus with a hand-held blender

I got this idea from Morito by Sam and Sam Clark, having introduced one of the Sams (him) at a lunch at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. It’s my impression that hummus tastes better made this way than it does from a food processor, perhaps because the processor blade gets very hot and affects the flavour. It’s a theory.

A pitcher-type vessel is ideal, so the ingredients don’t spray everywhere.

1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 1/2tbsp tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, chopped (it needs this, but you’ll be able to taste it all afternoon if you eat the hummus at lunchtime)
Salt (go easy if the chickpeas have been tinned in brine)
Pepper, cayenne pepper to taste
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Blend all the ingredients apart from the oil (which loses its fruitiness if overworked) with a hand-held blender. You may need to stop to scrape down the sides. Stir in the oil.