Around this time of year chefs everywhere (I imagine) are starting to get really excited about the amazing produce that’s soon going to be on offer- just as you’re wondering what else you can possibly do with root vegetables and have exhausted every imaginable cabbage recipe, you can begin to look forward to lots of lovely spring greens and start putting asparagus on every dish (well, its only in season for a couple of weeks!). But before spring gets underway in earnest there are a few things on offer at the tail end of winter that are not to be missed.
In the kitchen we’ve been playing with some of this beautiful seasonal produce- purple sprouting broccoli, rhubarb, salsify and watercress for starters, as well as forageable delights like Wild Garlic and Nettles.
Wild Garlic has all the flavour of the regular bulbs without the pungency and makes an excellent soup or pesto (yummy with spring lamb!) as does Watercress which is peppery and tart and really good with oily fish.
This week we’ve resurrected an old 70’s dinner party favourite- Salmon En Croute. 40 years on its still a crowd pleaser and a cinch to make. Everyone’s done a recipe for it – Gordon, Jamie, Delia, Mary… Here’s Appetite’s version:
Salmon En Croute with Watercress Pesto.
(if you want to go super-retro start with a Prawn Cocktail served in a hollowed out Avocado and finished with a Baked Alaska!)
Salmon En Croute with Watercress Pastry
1 x 380g Ready Made Puff Pastry
1 x 2.8k Salmon, skinned, boned and filleted in 2
6 Tbsp Watercress Pesto
1 free-range egg
1 bunch of watercress- only very large stalks removed
2 Tbsps toasted sunflower seeds
50g finely grated parmesan
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how much you like garlic!) Crushed
50-75ml olive oil (don’t use extra virgin, its too strong, just a light olive oil is fine)
For the Pesto:
Place watercress, sunflower seeds and garlic in a food processor. Puree them lightly. Drizzle in the oil, pureeing in spurts, until slightly runny.
Place in a bowl, stir in parmesan cheese and season.
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
2) Roll the pastry out to 40cm/16in x 30cm/12in on a lightly floured surface. Lay on the lined baking tray.
3) Spread one fillet with 2 spoons of Watercress pesto then turn face down (pesto touching pastry) onto the centre of the pastry.
4) Spread 2 more spoons of pesto on to the top side of the fish and lay the second fillet on top.
5) Spread the remaining pesto on the top side of the second piece of fish.Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg.
6) Fold the pastry over the fish, sealing the ends by pressing the edges together. Turn the parcel carefully over so the seal is on the bottom. Very lightly score the pastry all over (do NOT cut through- the back of a knife is good for doing this) and brush neatly with the beaten egg.
Bake for about 45 minutes (or until all your pastry is lovely and dark golden brown.
Allow to cool a little before slicing carefully into portions
Coming next week……Appetite for something different?
If you’ve spotted what looks like a bunch of dirty brown sticks in any of these photos and don’t know what it is, let us put you out of your misery. That is the mighty salsify. It may look intimidating but its got a delicious unique flavour we’ve heard best described as a cross between artichoke and celeriac. Most people don’t know what it is, never mind what to do with it, so if you want to have a go then check back here next week for recipes.