And Summer it was! A warm, balmy night and so we ate ‘al fresco’. The evening was kicked off with the traditional, quintessential English Summer drink – Pimms – choc full of oranges, lemons, strawberries, cucumber and mint and tumbled over ice, it made for a refreshing start to the meal. The first course was a broad bean and pistachio hummus, served over home made, toasted basil bread and dressed with a little balsamic, chopped pistachios and mustard cress. Then followed a succulent confit of salmon, glistening under a dusting of freshly chopped dill and accompanied by some crab and dill crushed new potatoes and a little dressing made from olive oil, a little lime juice and more freshly chopped dill. A generous helping of another traditional English Summer dish – Eton Mess – completed this three course dining event.
Ingredients for 6
About 500ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
1 thyme sprig
6 x 140g skinned salmon fillets
600g new potatoes (Jersey Royals are good)
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 tsp chopped dill
200g white and brown crabmeat
1 bunch watercress, stalks removed, to serve
1 tbsp chopped dill
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
juice ½ lime
1. First, tip the potatoes into a pan of boiling water, then simmer for 15 mins or until soft. Drain and keep warm. Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a thick-based pan or roasting tin that will fit the salmon fillets snugly. Add the garlic and thyme, gently heat the oil for a few mins to let the flavours infuse, then turn off the heat.
2. About 20 mins before you want to serve, slip the salmon into the warm oil. Cook on a low heat for 8 mins (or 10 mins if you prefer your fish well cooked), then take off the heat. Leave the salmon in the oil for 5 mins, then remove and drain.
3. Meanwhile, place the cooked potatoes into a mixing bowl and lightly crush with the back of a spoon. Add the herbs, butter and a drizzle of olive oil from the salmon, season and mix well, then fold through the crabmeat. To make the drizzle, whisk the dill, olive oil and lime juice together.
4. On each plate, fill a cook’s ring with the crushed potato mix (if you don’t have a ring, spoon into a neat pile). Remove the ring and lay a salmon fillet next to it. Serve a small handful of watercress alongside, spoon around the drizzle, then serve.
For 4 people:
3 Tablesp. flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
4 Spring onions, finely sliced
2 tablesp. basil and mint, roughly chopped
2 tabesp. capers, rinsed
4 tablesp. Olive oil
400g risotto rice
1 litre fish stock
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 teasp. dried red chilli flakes
125 ml dry white wine
2 sachets squid ink
Langoustines or prawns, peeled (roughly 4 – 6 per person)
1. Place all the marinade ingredients into a blender and mix until well blended and finely chopped. Slowly add the olive oil until you have a thick sauce. Place the langoustines or prawns in a container or food bag and pour in the marinade. Mix well and leave in the fridge until needed.
2. Place the fish stock into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer.
3. Meanwhile, heat another pan until hot and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the onion, garlic and chilli flakes. Cook for a few minutes until softened, but not coloured.
4. Add the wine and cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
5. Add the squid ink and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon to disperse the ink throughout the rice.
6. Pour in the hot stock, a ladle at a time, and keep stirring until each ladleful is absorbed. Keep adding the stock, stirring as often as possible until the rice is tender, but still with a slight resistance to the bite – this should take about 20-25 minutes.
7. About 5 minutes before the end of cooking time, heat about a tablesp. olive oil in a sauté pan and fry the marinated langoustines/prawns until they have turned pink and are cooked through (about 5 mins).
8. To serve, spoon the risotto into the centre of each of individual plate and top with a pile of langoustines/prawns.
For 4 people:
Approx. 450g white crab meat & 100g brown crab meat (I used a higher proportion of dark meat – 1:3)
3 tablesp. olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
8 small garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
225 plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded & chopped (I used cherry plums and did not skin them, but chopped them fairly small)
50 ml dry white wine
1 teasp. caster sugar
1/4 teasp. dried chilli flakes
3 tablesp. chopped fresh parsley
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
15g butter, melted
1 garlic clove finely chopped (or crushed)
Salt & Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C / Gas 6.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan, then add the onions and all except 1 chopped garlic clove. Fry over a gentle heat for 2 minutes, until softened.
3. Increase the heat, add the tomatoes, wine, sugar, chilli flakes and some salt and pepper and simmer for about 4 minutes, until the mixture has reduced to a thick sauce.
4. Stir in 2 tablesp. parlsey and the flaked crab meat, and spoon the mixture into individual ramekins. Mix the breadcrumbs with the melted butter and the rest of the parsley and garlic and sprinkle this over the crab. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the topping is crisp and golden.
This Sabayon is the basis for the Iced Coffee Parfait. It can also be used to make mousses and fruit gratins – taken from Raymond Blanc’s “Kitchen Secrets“. I have a Thermomix and used this to create the sabayon. I have included both methods below.
4 medium egg yolks
50g caster sugar
125ml Muscat or other sweet dessert wine
1 tablesp lemon juice or to taste
150ml whipping cream
Grind the sugar for up to 20 secs, speed 9. Insert the butterfly whisk and add the egg yolks. Cook at 50 degrees C for 4 minutes on speed 4. Add the wine and continue to cook at 80 degrees C for 5 minutes, speed 3. Remove the jug and plunge into a bowl of iced water for a minute or two. Dry off the jug and replace. Continue to whisk at speed 2 with no heat for another 5 minutes or until the sabayon has gone cold.
In a large, heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, caster sugar, wine and lemon juice together for 1 minute. Stand the bowl over a bain-marie of barely simmering water, making sure it is not touching the water and whisk for 7 – 8 minutes (I recommend using an electric whisk) until it reaches 78 degrees C, resulting in a light, fluffy sabayon. Remove the bowl from the heat and place over a larger bowl of crushed ice. Continue to whisk until the sabayon is cold.
In another bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks and then fold into the cold sabayon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use or freeze.
This was the dessert presented at the Supper Club Night – A Taste of France, taken from Raymond Blanc’s “Kitchen Secrets” from which I have already tried a number of recipes successfully. A lovely dessert, but unfortunately, although the recipe states 10 – 12 servings, I found them to be rather meagre portions and would suggest that this dessert would better serve 8. I attach a photo* from the book which shows a decent thickness to the slice – those that I served my guests were rather thinner!
450ml prepared sabayon
75ml strong espresso coffee (ristretto)
For the Garnish:
50g shelled pistachio nuts
30g flaked almonds
30g icing sugar
2 tablesp. kirsch or Cognac (I had neither and used Almagnac)
For the caramel sauce:
150g caster sugar
1/2 teasp arrowroot
To make the iced coffee Parfait: In a large bowl, gently fold the sabayon and coffee together. Fill a terrine with the sabayon, smooth the top and freeze overnight.
To prepare the garnish: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Mix the nuts with the icing sugar and alcohol of choice. Scatter on a baking tray and bake for about 7 minutes until lightly golden and crunchy. Allow to cool.
To make the caramel sauce: Put 20ml of water in a small saucepan and add the sugar. Leave for a few minutes, then dissolve over a medium heat and cook to a dark golden brown caramel. Add the remaining 50ml water to stop the cooking. Mix in the diluted arrowroot to thicken the sauce and leave to cool.
I must say, I struggled with this method of making caramel sauce, as the sugar kept crystallising, even though I had left it a few minutes before cooking (this is key). In the end I did it the only way I knew how, which was to dissolve equal parts of sugar and water together over heat (I used 150g of each) and then boil until the required caramelisation occurred.
To serve: Dip the terrine into hot water for 4 – 5 seconds to loosen the parfait, then run a warmed knife around it and turn it out onto a board. Cut into slices with the warm knife. Drizzle the caramel sauce onto individual plates and place a slice of parfait in the middle. Scatter the caramelised nuts around the parfait and serve.
This starter was included in the Supper Club event – A Taste of France. Easy to make and perfect for a supper party, as you can make it ahead of time. My only tip would be to bring it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving (improves the flavour) and serve on some toasted roasted tomato & thyme bread.
2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
100g anchovy fillets
100g salted capers, rinsed and drained
100g black olives (the crinkly ones) pitted and weighed AFTER pitting
3 tablesp extra virgin olive oil
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt & Pepper
1. Put all the ingredients, except the olive oil, into a food processor and blitz until the mixture forms a coarse paste.
2. Add the olive oil and blitz again.
3. Add lemon juice to taste and scrape out into a jar, smooth down the surface and cover with a thin layer of olive oil.
This will keep in the fridge for up to 10 days.