Monthly Archives: July 2011

Sweet Chilli Salmon

Barely a recipe at all, this just shows off one of my favourite condiments of all time.

Put some salmon fillets or steaks into a bowl, with one tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce per piece of fish. Let them sit at room temperature for about an hour, turning if you can remember. A teensy splodge of neutral vegetable oil in the frypan, and then fry. (I do flesh side down for 2-3 mins, then skin side until a bit of white salmon fat starts to ooze out the sides and the middle is still looking very slightly translucent.)

Job done.

(Don’t serve with anything more complex than a green salad.)


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Art of the Tart

This is a rough and simple tart; not as refined as a quiche. The addition of egg to the pastry makes it remarkably forgiving. No blind baking, rolling, or faffing required.

For my 10″ diameter, 1½” deep pie dish, I use:

  • 220g plain flour
  • 110g butter, cold and cut up into small cubes
  • pinch salt
  • one egg
  • some milk

In a large mixing bowl, rub the butter into the flour and salt until the consistency of breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and mix it in with a palette knife, or failing that, a spoon. You may be able to coax it into a ball with your hands, but more than likely you’ll need to mix in a tablespoon of milk; maybe more. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

The basis of the filling is three eggs and 250mL double cream. For a richer consistency, you can replace one egg with two yolks. This produces a fluffy, but set consistency, for a more wobbly version, increase the cream.

Today, I’ve got some pancetta (10 wafer thin rashers, about 70g) so I fry that gently until crisp, and set aside. No need to drain on paper towels, as the fat is flavoured with the spices in the cure, and we want it to infuse the rest of the filling.

Push the pastry into the pie dish with your hands. (I don’t need to butter my ceramic dish, your mileage may vary.) You could roll it, but there’s really no need. If it tears, just patch it. If you end up with more on one side of the dish than the other, just rip some off and patch. As I said, it forgives much, although if you work it too hard, and it’s a hot day, the butter will start to melt, so whack it back in the fridge if this happens.

Today I spread the pancetta in the bottom of the pastry case, and beat together the remaining ingredients, with some salt, pepper, nutmeg, and some grated grana. Any kind of Italian hard cheese will do.

Into the oven at 150°C for an hour. The case looks underfull.

…and then the filling puffs up, alarmingly…

…before relaxing at the end. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. You’ll see that the pastry shrinks away from the sides of the dish, so easy to rescue.

Variations

This is only the beginning. You could:

  • peel and slice 750g of brown onions, and gently gently gently fry them in butter for an hour or so, with salt, pepper, and maybe a clove – allow to cool and pour over the cream/eggs
  • do the same with some leeks, and add some goat’s cheese to the mix
  • replace the goat’s cheese with some salmon, smoked or otherwise
  • add some steamed (and vigorously squeezed) spinach to the fray

Onions in Vinegar

Nigel Slater very usefully points out that if you soak onions in vinegar and salt before putting them in a salad, they become mellow.

Even better, if you don’t need to use the whole onion in a salad for two, you can leave the remains in the vinegar, in the fridge, and it will keep for at least a week.

And it will become tastier and tastier and tastier.

Red onions, red wine vinegar and a tiny sprinkle of sea salt.

I wonder if I make a whole jar, with some molasses and mustard seeds as well?


Onion Marmalade

It’s fashionable to refer to this stuff as “onion marmalade” or “onion jam”. “Relish”, “chutney”, or “goop” might be closer. This is great for serving with pâté, cheese or sausages.

In a decent sized frypan, melt 25g butter, and add 1 tbsp mustard seeds. You can also add a pinch of chilli flakes, and/or a whole clove of garlic, peeled and squished but not chopped, which you remove after five mins. Fry gently for about a minute, and then add 500g brown onions, peeled, halved and sliced, well, not finely, but not roughly either. Red onions are good for this as well. Oh, and a pinch of salt.

Fry on a medium heat, moving the onion around until it’s soft and starting to colour. This will take around five minutes. Easier to manipulate the onion with a pair of barbecue tongs.

Once that’s done, add 75mL water and 50g muscovado sugar. This will start boiling almost immediately – reduce the heat so it’s gently burbling to itself, and cover. Leave for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Be vigilant – if all the water evaporates the sugar will burn.

Now, add 150ml red wine, and 75ml wine or cider vinegar. Bring this  back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. It’ll probably take twenty minutes for the liquid to reduce by half. To test whether it’s done, stick a wooden spoon or spatula into the pan, and drag it along the bottom, to create a trench. Does the liquid immediately rush in to fill the gap? Not done. Does the liquid hesitate slightly, before rushing in? Better. Is the liquid a little reluctant? Done!

Pop this into a clean jar, seal, and leave in the cupboard for about 24 hours before serving. This gives it chance to mellow and mature, as it doesn’t taste very nice the second it has been made. If your jar has been vigorously sterilised, as per jam making, then it will keep for months.


Clafoutis

The last time I made clafoutis, it was the 90s, and Take That were performing – for want of a better word – to crowds at Wembley Arena. Oh. Wait. I see. What goes around comes around. What alarms me, even more than Take That, is that I haven’t made one of these for more than a decade, as it’s stupidly easy, stupidly quick, and can be made with just about any kind of fruit.

Beware. Strictly speaking, a clafoutis has to involve cherries. Anything else, and it’s a “flaugnarde”. There are even people who will tell you this in a huffy voice. I wouldn’t want to spoil their fun, so I proudly say “blueberry clafoutis”.

But today, it’s cherries.

Quand nous chanterons le temps des cerises,
et gai rossignol et merle moqueur
Seront tous en fête!
Les belles auront la folies en tête,
Et les amoureux du soleil en coeur.
Quand nous chanterons le temps des cerises,

Sifflera bien mieux le merle moqueur.

You’ll need a dish that is big enough to fit the cherries in a single layer. I use my quiche dish, which is ten inches in diameter, and one and a half inches deep.

I used:

  • 450g cherries
  • 4 eggs
  • 225mL milk
  • 225mL double cream
  • 75g caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 75g plain flour

Start by stalking and stoning the cherries. I know, it’s a pain, but it can’t be helped. Pomiane suggests leaving the stones in, but then greed gets the better of you, and before you know it you’ve chipped a tooth.

Get the oven going at 200°C. Like Yorkshire Pudding, a little shock and awe will help it rise.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together, quite vigorously, until they’ve gone a little pale and fluffy. Whisk in the cream, milk and salt and then gradually add the flour, whisking gently, ’til there are no obvious lumps. (Don’t worry about the occasional tiny lump.)

Generously butter the dish, and chuck in two teaspoons of icing sugar, giving the dish a good shake, so that the inside is well coated. Tip away the excess. This helps the pudding not to stick.

Put the cherries in the dish in a single layer. Put the dish on the shelf in the hot oven. Pour over the batter, stopping when you’re about half an inch short of the top. The tops of the cherries will be peeping through. Using these quantities, and the above mentioned dish, you’ll have a few tablespoons left over.

Leave in the oven for half an hour. It will puff up and go golden on the outside, and start to smell good. My fan-forced oven tends to give the side closer to the fan more of a tan, so you may want to turn the dish around halfway through.

Now, slip a knife in. Does it come out clean? Probably not. Close the oven door, and leave it for another five minutes, and keep repeating the test. Expect around forty minutes total. The photo at the top shows it about five minutes short of being done, so it will have much more of a tan. (Pomiane suggests turning the temperature up for the last few minutes to ensure this.)

Let it cool for about half an hour, then serve. It will collapse, but that’s fine. You could dust it with icing sugar. Some ice cream would be good at this point.

Variations

Loads. Today I chucked a tablespoon of brandy into the batter, and also a heaped tablespoon of ground almonds. Also, the caster sugar came from the jar wherein lurk the mummified corpses of a few vanilla pods. You could also sprinkle the top with flaked almonds if there were any handy.

I used to do this with Morello cherries from a jar, which is also good, and handy for the fifty weeks of the year when it isn’t cherry season.

You may want more sugar. You’ll need to double the sugar if you’re using the bitter but aromatic cherries you sometimes see from the East.

It’s also very good with raspberries or blueberries.