Friday, January 7, 2011

Blackened salmon with orange yoghurt sauce

Dinner the other night was just this simple; a piece of salmon purposely blackened to within an inch of its poor mistaken life, yoghurt and lemon rice. A plate of sliced cured sausage, and a piece of brie split in half with a bit of truffle and mascarpone stuffed inside. A couple of home made pickles chucked in for good measure, and eating at home has never been quite so rewarding indeed.

Our poor salmon is much maligned, and doesn't really deserve the negativity it gets, but will reward you with a bit of work and creative effort. It was not so long ago really when poaching was the only method we turned to for this fish, but the delicate flavour of salmon really comes through when it is charred brutaly on the outside, all the while protecting the centre to cook effectively with its own steam.

This recipe serves 4 as part of a selection of tapas or 2 as a main course

300g salmon fillet, skinned and boned
2 tblsp vegetable oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp Spanish sweet smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted
1 tsp fine salt

For the citrus yoghurt
300ml Greek yoghurt
zest and juice of one orange
60ml extra virgin olive oil

Cut the prepared salmon fillet into 2.5cm cubes. Coat the salmon in one tablespoon of the vegetable oil and then set aside in a large dish.

Combine the thyme, rosemary, oregano, paprika, cayenne, garlic, cumin seeds and salt in a small bowl. Generously coat the salmon cubes in the spice mixture and leave to sit while you prepare the citrus yoghurt.

Put the yoghurt, orange zest and juice and the olive oil in a bowl and, using a small whisk, combine, then set aside. Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and cook the salmon for 3-4 minutes, turning frequently until it's golden all over.

Serve warm with cocktail sticks and the yoghurt sauce for dipping as a canape.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Turkey sandwich

The Boxing Day sandwich was a triumph. But now we're back on an even keel, and the New Year well under way, the sandwich we only ever associate with leftovers is making a stand in his own right.

Slices of slightly dry turkey, a crumble of stuffing, a couple of bacon wrapped chipolatas if you're lucky and possibly a sliced cold roast potato or two; all evened out by the token healthy crisp of some salad leaves and a smear of mayonnaise and you no better a sandwich you'll construct all year.

It's all about the moment though isn't it really? I mean, a killer Pimms served on a polo field in Gloucestershire at the height of Summer is not the same beast as the one served up in a smoky bar on Kazinczy Street in Budapest in January. As is the fragrance of a tongue numbing green papaya salad with an attack of lime, fish sauce and chilli utterly enveloping your mouth on the streets of Chiang Mai in blistering July, simply not the same at the Golden Sawadee in Bognor on a rainy Tuesday in November.

As it is, I'm not sure there's a terribly wrong time for an honest sandwich, and have to admit to roasting off a decent sized crown of turkey for just this. Far rather take this approach than anything on offer in the deli section at any time of the year. my favourite sandwich moment of the year, executed in January without leftover stuffing etc. shall be constructed from the below array of bits and pieces. All or some will go in this time round, saving the other options for next time. And believe you me, there will be many of those before the 26th December this year...

Turkey, sliced anywhere up to the thickness of your pinkie, still just warm from roasting.
Soft sourdough bread, cold but fresh - dipped lightly in the turkey roasting juices
Crisp grilled bacon –  streaky and smoked preferred
A chutney of some sort - experiment with what takes your fancy, but picalilli gets the nod today
A pickle too - I pickled a gallon of baby onions before Christmas; they're in
Salad leaves; crisp green and bitter preferably
Avocado slices have a time and a place on occasion
As does a thin shredding of raw celeriac

A cold beer on the side, and French fries in lieu of the leftover roast spuds

Jingle bells all the way!