Friday, 13 November 2015

Fit For a Prince

Whether catering at a palace or rustling up snacks, an honest approach to food will produce noble dishes, says Carolyn Robb

Kiln-Roasted Salmon Fishcakes With Buttered Leeks And Asparagus Pesto

Serves 4

For the asparagus pesto
16 asparagus stalks (300g)
8 stems of basil
4 stems of mint
30g pine nuts
1 clove of garlic
100ml olive oil
60g grated Parmesan

For the fishcakes
1 large baked potato (approximately 150g)
60g butter
1 leek
250g kiln-roasted salmon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp finely chopped parsley
Salt and ground black pepper
2 medium free-range eggs
60g plain flour
225g fresh breadcrumbs
Olive oil and butter for frying

To serve
2 leeks
30g butter
Salt and ground black pepper
Asparagus tips from the asparagus above
Sprigs of Greek basil to garnish

Prepare the asparagus by cutting off and discarding the woody section from the bottom of each stem. Remove the tip of each spear and keep aside. Cut the remaining stems into 2.5cm lengths and cook in boiling, salted water until tender. Cook the tips and keep to one side.

Make the pesto: place the cooked asparagus stems in a food processor with the basil, mint, pine nuts and garlic. Blend until smooth. Slowly trickle the oil in while the machine is running, until the consistency is like that of mayonnaise. Add the grated Parmesan and season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Spoon the pesto into a bowl and cover with cling film so that the plastic is in contact with the surface of the pesto. Store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Make the fishcakes: remove the flesh from the baked potato and, using a fork, crush it with half the butter. Finely slice one leek and cook it in the remaining butter until it is tender. Flake the salmon and combine it with the crushed potato, leeks, lemon zest and parsley. The salmon is quite salty so season sparingly with salt and ground black pepper.

Divide the mixture into 4 and roll each portion into a ball. Alternatively you can make 8 small fishcakes.

Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Dip the fishcakes into the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, then into the beaten egg and lastly breadcrumbs. Dip into the egg and breadcrumbs a second time. Chill for 30 minutes.

Slice the two leeks into fine disks and cook in butter until they are soft. They should still have a lovely deep, green colour. Fry the fishcakes in a frying pan using a mixture of butter and mild olive oil, until they are an even golden colour.

Turn them frequently to be sure that they are cooked on all sides and thoroughly heated through. Alternatively, you can deep fry the fishcakes.

To serve: reheat the asparagus spears in a little butter. Place a fishcake on a mound of leeks in the centre of each warmed plate. Surround with a drizzle of pesto and some of the asparagus spears. Finish with sprigs of Greek basil.

Braised Beef With Red Wine

Serves 6

For the braised beef
1kg beef, in chunky 50g cubes
3 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
2 medium red onions
3 medium carrots
4 sticks celery
2 cloves garlic
750ml red wine
250ml water
85g lentils
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
Sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme
24 small shallots

For the celeraic mash 
30g butter
500g celeriac/one large celery root, peeled and diced
A sprig each of thyme and rosemary
Salt, black pepper and nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F. Toss the beef in a large bowl with the flour, seasoned with salt and ground black pepper.

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy stovetop-to-oven casserole pan. Brown the beef in several batches, browning it all over, then transfer it to a bowl.

Chop the onions, carrots and celery and crush the garlic then sauté them, in the same pan as you used for the beef, until lightly browned.

Return beef to the pan and add the red wine, water, lentils, nutmeg, sugar and herbs. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cover the surface with a piece of baking parchment, put the lid on and place in the oven for 90 minutes. Check several times during cooking. Add the shallots and return to the oven for a further 90 minutes.

While the casserole cooks, make the celeriac mash: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan add the celeriac, herbs and seasoning. Cook with the lid on for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the celeriac is soft enough to purée. Leave to cool a little before puréeing with a liquidiser or stick blender.

If at the end of cooking time, the sauce in the casserole looks ‘watery’, remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and boil the sauce to reduce it. You can also thicken it with a couple of tsps of flour mixed with butter or corn flour mixed with water; cook well after adding the thickening.

A Trifle Royal

Serves 4

1 x 135g packet of strawberry jelly made up with 450ml water and set in a shallow dish
120g small strawberries 
120g raspberries
120g blueberries
120g blackberries
60g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
300ml double cream
20 crisp Amaretti biscuits (120g)
4 tbsp Cassis
A handful of mint leaves
4 small sprigs of mint

Several hours before you start preparing the rest of the trifle, make up the jelly and leave it to set.

Prepare the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries by washing, drying and hulling. Reserve a handful for decoration.

Cook the blackberries in a little water with half the sugar and the vanilla. When soft, purée with a stick blender and rub through a sieve to remove the pips. Keep on one side.

Whip the cream with the remaining sugar. Dice the set jelly into small squares and divide half of it between 4 glasses. Add a layer of whipped cream, using one third of the cream divided between the 4 glasses. Crush the Amaretti and sprinkle half of the crumbs onto the cream.

Divide the remaining jelly between the 4 glasses and top with a layer of blueberries and raspberries; drizzle with Cassis.

Mix the blackberry purée into half of the remaining whipped cream and spoon it onto the fruit, dividing it between the 4 glasses. Sprinkle with the remaining crushed Amaretti and add a layer of sliced strawberries. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, shred the mint leaves and fold them into the remaining whipped cream. Spread the cream onto the top of each trifle and decorate with a few berries and a small sprig of mint.

The Royal Touch, by Carolyn Robb; photography by Simon Brown (ACC Editions, £25).

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