30 May 2012

Salmon Fillet Strips on a Vegetable Bed

This dish resulted from two seasonal occurrences: the appearance of fresh vegetables, carrots, fennel and spring onions in the market, and the fact that our somewhat decrepit freezer needs defrosting when the weather gets warmer; our kind neighbours offer its contents temporary asylum, alas not spatially limitless, which is why we decided to dispose of the frozen salmon fillets…
This dish is quite nice as a starch-free meal, but it works well with basmati rice.

What you need

  • 400-500 g salmon fillet (without skin), cut into strips
  • salt, pepper, Cajun spice mix, fresh herbs (tarragon and dill taste very pleasant, if you like it a bit less subtle, try lovage and coriander)
  • 2-3 spring onions, thinly sliced (about 2mm)
  • 1 leek, sliced without tough green leaves 
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium sized carrots thinly sliced
  • 1 small fennel, cut three times lengthwise and then thinly sliced, with the greens
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 tblsp fish stock powder or vegetable stock
  • 80 ml dry sherry

What you do

  1. Season the salmon and sprinkle with the herbs. Ensure that the grill or salamander is hot.
  2. In an ovenproof cast-iron pan, heat the oil and sauté the spring onions and the garlic (ideally to a crispy consistency.
  3. Add the rest of the vegetables, and sauté without letting them colour. They should still have plenty of bite.
  4. Sprinkle with stock powder and drizzle the sherry over the mixture.
  5. Lay the salmon strips on top of the vegetables so they are heated from below. When you watch them you will see how the colour of the cooked salmon, a turn lighter pink slowly rises. When they are done about half-way up, put the dish under the grill, keeping an eye on it not getting too dark (this should take about 5 minutes tops). This ensures that the salmon is hot but still juicy on the inside.
  6. Season the vegetable bed to taste and add perhaps a bit more sherry or water if it looks too try.
  7. Serve immediately (as the salmon cools down fast) perhaps with a squirt of crema di balsamico on the plate or over the fish.

20 May 2012

Asparagus Cream Soup with Fresh Herbs

This is the companion recipe to the Risotto with Green Asparagus Tips as it uses up the stalks. These don’t need to be done right away but because they freeze well they can still be used a few days later. On the other hand, the soup can be made at the same time as the risotto (as I did, in fact) and frozen for later use, although I would add the cream when cooking it before serving.

What you need

  • 1 knob of butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed (if you don’t have wild garlic)
  • 1 to 2 bundles of green asparagus stalks, cut into thin slices, (discard the dry ends)
  • 2-3 asparagus tips per person for decoration (won’t work if you freeze the soup)
  • 1 tblsp sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tblsp white balsamic or cider vinegar
  • 1 l vegetable broth
  • 200 ml fresh cream (optionally half of that whipped)
  • a cup of chopped fresh herbs (lovage, flat-leaved parsley, tarragon, wild garlic)
  • (salt and) pepper to taste

What you do

  1. Melt the butter and sauté the onions (and garlic if using)
  2. Add the sliced asparagus stalks, sprinkle with sugar, salt and the vinegar. Sauté for about 5 minutes, making sure the ingredients don’t take colour.
  3. Add the vegetable broth and simmer until the stalks are soft.
  4. Purée and pass through a sieve to ensure that the woody fibers are left behind, but the soft tissue can be mixed into the soup. (If this is for guests or you intend to freeze the soup for later use, this is where you stop to do the remaining steps when you need to get the soup onto the table.)
  5. Add the asparagus tips and bring the broth to the boil. Simmer until the tips have reached the softness you like (I like them quite crunchy).
  6. Add the cream (the whipped cream can be placed into the plates immediately before serving with the soup poured on top) and the fresh herbs, warm up and serve immediately. 

14 May 2012

Chestnut and Vegetable Terrine

The last couple of days it was really cold and unfriendly for the season so I had a look at this recipe, which uses root vegetables and is thus perhaps a bit wintery for the season. But it can be made into a spring dish with spring vegetables (frozen chestnuts or dried chestnuts being available the year round).



What you need

  • 300 g chestnuts peeled
  • 2 spring onions finely chopped (can be substituted with onions or leek, depending on availability)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 80-100g finely chopped carrots
  • 80-100g finely chopped fennel
  • 80-100g finely chopped celeriac (experiment, substituting kohlrabi, celery, small peas, peperoni, zchini, etc.)
  • 50 g bread, cut small and soaked in white wine until soft
  • 3 eggs
  • 300 ml crème fraîche
  • Salt and pepper
  • herbs (lovage, sage, parsley, majoram)

What you do

  1. Steam the chestnuts until they are soft and mash them (completely not as shown in the picture).
  2. In a frying pan, melt a knob of butter and sauté the onions, garlic and then the other vegetables making sure they still have plenty of bite.
  3. Mash the bread and mix with the chestnuts.
  4. Mix the eggs, the chestnut mash and the crème fraîche and stir in the vegetables.
  5. Season with salt, pepper and the herbs.
  6. Pour into a terrine dish or a cake tin that has been buttered thoroughly and line with buttered baking paper.
  7. Sit in a baking tray filled with hot water three quarters of the way up the terrine dish or baking tray.
  8. Put in the oven at 180° C for about an hour or until a skewer stuck into the terrine comes out clean.
Remove from the terrine dish / cake tin, cut with a sharp, hot knife and serve with steamed vegetables lightly seasoned and drizzled with olive or even better pumpkin seed oil.
Tastes fine cold as well.

07 May 2012

Risotto with Green Asparagus Tips

The asparagus bonanza continues. The recipe that follows is again based on an asparagus fond and as there will be a fair bit of the slightly less tender stalks left over, another asparagus recipe – asparagus cream soup with fresh herbs – will follow to make use of these. 

What you need

  • 1 bundle of green asparagus, cut off from the top, about 10 cm long
  • peels and the woody parts at the bottom
  • 30 g butter
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tblsp apple balsamico vinegar (or a not too acerbic white wine vinegar)
  • vegetable stock cube or powder
  • 400 g risotto rice (carnaroli or Ticinesi Riso Nostrano)
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 100 ml good white wine
  • 5 medium-sized leaves of wild garlic, finely chopped

What you do

  1. Melt the butter and and sauté the peels and parts of the asparagus that are too woody or stringy to eat until the peels are soft and the pan has taken a bit of colour.
  2. Add the sugar, the stock and finally the vinegar, making sure that the browning in the bottom of the pan is dissolved, then cover with water.
  3. Leave to simmer for at least 10 minutes, strain and put the fond aside.
  4. In the meantime, heat the oil sauté the onions and add the garlic a bit later without letting them colour. Add the rice and stir until it looks glassy.
  5. Pour in the wine, then the asparagus fond and stir. Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the asparagus tips (earlier if they are rather thick).
  6. Allow to simmer till the juices have been soaked up and the rice is done (depends on the type of rice you use).
  7. Shortly before serving, add the wild garlic but make sure you don’t destroy the delicate tips when you stir it in.
  8. Serve with a generous helping of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano.


With the rest of the stalks I make an asparagus cream soup while the risotto simmers. This works well frozen so as not to OD on asparagus. The recipe for this will follow shortly.