Friday, 18 July 2014

Poached Salmon Hollandaise with wilted spinach

Poached Salmon Hollandaise with wilted spinach

I admit, I am pushing it a bit with calling this one "simple". This recipe is incredibly simple in that it only takes a few minutes to prepare and does not use many ingredients. However, as simple as an Hollandaise sauce might be to make in principal, in reality it can be a bit of a bastard as it will curdle if you get it wrong. And once it does, there's no getting it back, so you'll have to start again. This recipe however, makes for a delicious, light supper or lunch and is something I have often chosen in some rather nice Parisian bistros.It's delicious and well worth persevering. Even if you might need more than one attempt with the sauce :)


2 salmon fillets
2 egg yolks
125g unsalted butter
1/2 tea spoon of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of cold/refrigerated water
A squirt of lemon juice
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Bowl full of spinach leaves

The cooking:

Start with the sauce if I were you, so if you mess it up you have time to start again. Cut 125g of  unsalted butter up into little cubes and melt on a low heat in a pan. When it's all melted turn the heat off. Don't let it start to cook and bubble. Then half fill a saucepan (or "sospan" to use the Welsh!) with boiling water, and on a low flame, keep it at a gentle simmer. Then make a "bain Marie" by placing a heat proof bowl into it. The bowl needs to be wide enough to rest on the sides of the saucepan, whilst the bottom of it deep enough to touch the surface of the water in it.

Pop your egg yolks, vinegar, icy water and some seasoning into the bain marie and whisk until combined and thick. Then, one tablespoon at a time start adding the melted butter, whisking all the while. Continuously taking care that your water in the saucepan is not bubbling too much. Keep it going at the gentle simmer. Repeat until you have added all the golden, liquid butter. Leave behind any white bits.Keep whisking while you then squeeze approximately a teaspoon full of juice from a fresh lemon. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and stir in with your whisk. At this point, all the ingredients should be fully combined, and you should be left with a thick creamy sauce. If that is the case then for heavens sake leave it alone as you can over do the whisking and it goes over and starts to separate again. If you have done it right, then leave it and give your self a pat on the back.

The rest is really easy. Put your 2 salmon fillets, skin side down, into a fish kettle or deep pan with a lid. Pour cold water into the pan, enough to just about cover both fillets.Top up the difference with a glass of dry white wine and a dash of salt. Put the lid on, turn on to a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Poach your salmon in the bubbling water for about 10 minutes.

The spinach is also a doddle. Just add a table spoon of water to the bowl, cover it with cellophane, stab with a fork to make holes and cook on full power in a microwave for 3 minutes.

Dish up with some sweet Mange Tous (pronounced "Mange twat" - not really), may be on a bed of rice like I have in the picture or just as nice with some crispy chips. Smother with sauce. If you like your sauce thinner, add a bit more cold water and whisk in. Not too much whisking though!! It's a bastard!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Swordfish with basil, mint and lemon

Swordfish with basil, mint and lemon

This is a very simple and flavour full Italian recipe. You find it a lot on the southern coast. Tastes fantastic. Great for a summer evening meal. Because sword fish is such a meaty fish it can take strong flavours well. This recipe also would work with tuna steaks instead of swordfish. I also like this with a nice potato salad so I've added the recipe for that too.


2 swordfish steaks
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2-3 mint leaves, finely chopped
A hand full of basil leaves, finely chopped
Juice from 1/4 of a lemon
The best available quality olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

For the accompanying potato salad, 

6-8 boiled baby new potatoes (they will need time to cool before serving)
15g of butter
2 Table spoons of sour cream
1 finely chopped spring onion
A small hand full of chopped chives

The Cooking:

As it is more time consuming, make your potato salad first. Start by boiling your new potatoes, drain them, and while they are cooling, add 15g of butter, and gently stir it in. Once cooled, cut your potatoes into quarters and put in a bowl, pour any melted butter left in your pan over them as well. Add your chives and spring onion and spoon in the sour cream. Give the whole thing a good stir so all the potatoes are coated. Season with sea salt and pepper. Put to one side. This can be prepared well in advance if you like and refrigerated if need be.

For your fish, simply pop your finely chopped garlic, mint and basil into a bowl, pour enough olive oil into the bowl to cover it all, squirt with lemon juice and give it a good stir. Put to one side for 15 minutes or so to infuse. Spoon 1/2 your mixture onto one side of your swordfish steak, massage in the oil and sprinkle with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, then cook on a griddle or in a frying pan for approximately 3 minutes (until sealed and golden). While it's cooking, spoon the rest of your oil and leaves and seasoning onto the upper side of your steak. After 3 minutes, turn over and cook the other side for 3 minutes. Serve up with your potato salad and a green salad.