Living on my own means there are a number of things I tend not to cook because either they take quite some time to prepare, or they're simply just meant to be eaten by more than one person; stews (ironically!) and braises, hunks of roast meat, barbecues (apart from when I lived in Melbourne and it was all so easy), lasagne, risottos (it seems silly to make enough risotto for 1)... that sort of thing...
Well, for the first time in ages I was entertaining on Wednesday and took the opportunity to roast chicken... there's a bit of a story about the chicken first of all.
I'd removed the bird from the fridge to take the chill off before cooking and decided the most air tight and fly free space was my oven (it was off at this time!). An hour or so later, I came back to prepare the tasty bird for cooking and opened the oven....to be greeted by the biggest blue bottle you could imagine. The thing was, I couldn't tell whether it had been getting cosy with my chicken in the oven or whether it was just chilling out on the handle of the oven on the outside...
You can't chance these things. So, alas, chicken went into the bin and chicken 2 was purchased in a hurry...
I simply rubbed on some sweet smoked and a little hot smoked paprika, olive oil, maldon salt and pepper, squeezed over a couple of lemons and shoved the squeezed remnants inside the cavaty of the bird along with a few garlic cloves. In the oven at about 175°C for just over an hour..... you just know it's going to be good...
For the first course, I'd made some gravadlax - one of my favourite things. It's so simple to prepare but I'm also perhaps a bit of a barbarian with my methodology. Some people insist you put fillets one on top of the other and weigh them down using some sort of kitchen implement... well, I don't, and it really doesn't matter.
1 thick end salmon fillet about 5-6 inches wide with skin on
2 -3 tbsp maldon salt
2-3 tbsp light brown sugar
Few grinds black pepper
A big bunch of fresh dill
A tuppaware box big enough to fit the salmon fillet
Simply pull off enough dill from the bunch to make a bed at the base of your tuppaware.... then mix the sugar, salt and black pepper together and pat it all over the salmon. Place the salmon flesh side down over the dill and pack some more dill on top of the fish (on top of the skin). Cover and put in the fridge for 16-24 hours...
Remove the fish from the dill and the salty sweet liquor that will have collected - its texture will have changed and become much firmer... Remove the skin (this is pretty easy to do) and slice the fish as thinly and attractively as you can...
I served the gravad lax alongside some beetroot with carraway and lemon and some yoghurt with dill and cucumber
Beetroot with carraway and lemon
2 peeled beetroot, coarsley grated
Sprinkling of carraway seed
Juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon
Melt the butter in a pan and then add the carraway seeds. Cook gently for about 30 seconds. Add the beetroot and warm through in the pan before adding salt and pepper and the lemon juice.
Yoghurt with dill and cucumber
Just mix some chopped fresh dill and finely chopped cucumber into Greek yoghurt with a little salt.
The dish looks beautiful - pink salmon, bright purple beetroot and pale yoghurt with flecks of green, served with some dark rye bread that I found in my local Polish bakery (see picture above) - a real treat - sweet, dark, rich and very moreish...
Confession time! I'm afraid we ate it all before I remembered to take a picture! I've got another batch of salmon in the fridge so I'll update this tomorrow with a picture 🙂 .
I'm very excited about having been selected for a secret dinner party by Eat Me magazine on Monday. I've been asked to submit my chest, neck and waist size so I think i'm going to be dressed up in something unusual. Very much looking forward to the food and meeting some new people.
The application involved sending a picture of yourself in your best Autumnal outfit - I put some beetroot on my head and donned a woolie jacket - seemed to work....
I've wanted to go to one of these events for a while, ever since a friend of mine, Inga went to a Hendricks Gin evening a few months back that sounded amazing where they served all sorts of curiosities...
I decided to treat myself to some sea bass for dinner tonight. I had some peas and some artesan Polish spicy sausage in the fridge so I made Seabass with crushed green peas and spicy Polish sausage!
Seabass with crushed green peas and spicy Polish sausage!
1 seabass - or 2 if you are feeling uhungry as I was, scaled and filleted
A few handfulls of frozen petits pois
A few fresh mint leaves
1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
2 spicy cooking sausages (chorizo or a Polish alternative), sliced 5mm thick
A knob of butter
A dash of sherry vinegar
Salt and black pepper
Firstly cook the peas in boiling water with the mint leaves for a couple of minutes. Drain and blitz using a hand blender until the consistency you like. Add the yoghurt and a little salt, tasting as you go. Keep warm.
In a non stick pan cook the sausage slices till brown on both sides. Reserve on a plate. Pour a way a little of the excess oil.
Season the fish with salt and black pepper and then place the fillets skin side down in the pan on a high heat. Don't be tempted to move the fillets as you want the skin to get crispy and moving them will prevent this.
After 3-4 minutes the skin should be nice and crispy. Now, carefully turn the fillets over, add the butter to the pan and cook on the flesh side for another couple of minutes, lowering the temperature if it's smoking too much. Remove the fillets and keep warm.
Pour in about 3 to 4 tbsp of vinegar to the pan, taking care as it will spatter. Reduce the sauce until it thickens slightly. Taste and add some salt if you think it needs it.
Now assemble the dish. Put some crushed peas in the centre of the plate, top with the fish, some brown sausages slices and top with a little of the sauce... delicious! (shame about the photography)