Community kitchen - Easter special!
For centuries, Easter was the time when people
feasted. It signified the end of Lent; Spring fruit and vegetables were
coming through and all sorts of goodies were in season
Traditionally, this would have been lamb - but as a joint is heavy, and dangerous if you have to lift one out of a very hot oven, why not have salmon? It's delicious, festive and easy to cook, as well as being very healthy!
The very best salmon is wild salmon caught with a rod in one of the many special rivers in Britain. If you are lucky enough to know a keen fisherman who offers you a fresh-caught salmon - I envy you! Otherwise, go to a good fishmonger or the fish counter of your local supermarket and ask for the best farmed salmon.
Saumon en papilotte (Salmon in a parcel)
Here, price is probably the best indicator of quality. Avoid cheap farmed salmon as inevitably it means the fish are raised in crowded pens with little room to swim around. The less in a pen, the more expensive it is to rear.
As soon as you get the salmon home, try and start this recipe. Once you have done the preparation, you can put it in the freezer, ready to be brought out on Easter Sunday. Unlike meat, fish goes off quickly, hence the reason for freezing before this happens.
1 Salmon fillet (4 - 6 ozs) per person. Then any of the following:
- lemon slices or quarters
- parsley or dill
- shredded carrots
- sliced or quartered tomatoes
- onions (but don't swamp salmon flavour)
- asparagus spears
- and I like to splash over a tablespoon of white wine per fillet (or use water or vegetable stock)
You will need a piece of baking paper or tinfoil (about 12" x 18") per fillet, in which to wrap the salmon so it makes a parcel looking like a Cornish pasty. Have ready 18 x 15-inch pieces of parchment paper or tinfoil - 1 per fillet. Fold the long side in half and cut into a heart-shape. The parchment paper should be large enough to contain one portion of fish and vegetables folded in half. Brush each piece of parchment paper with vegetable oil or melted butter
Place the salmon fillet on the paper. Add a walnut-size knob of butter on top of each. Then include any of the following that you like and have to hand - but don't swamp the fish!
- small amount of onion (spring or any mild kind you like)
- 2 - 3 asparagus spears
- tomato slices
- grated carrots
- part-cooked green beans
- lemon slices
- small amount of any veg that goes with fish
- scattering of parsley or dill
Fold the other half of the paper over the fish and vegetables. Starting at one corner, tightly crimp the edges of the paper to seal it tightly so it makes a neat parcel.
Place parcels in freezer, ready to bring out early on Easter Sunday.
- Preheat oven to 400 - 450°F (225-250C)
- Place the pouches (papillote) on a baking sheet in very hot oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. When baked, the parchment paper should puff up and brown slightly.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Transfer the envelope to a plate. Carefully cut open and served with a lemon wedge.
- Or you can add to the drama and serve everyone their own parcel - makes for great fun as they cut it open! And this saves on washing up!
- Serve with new potatoes with sprigs of mint.
For non-fish eaters, what about cauliflower cheese, another seasonal recipe (suitable for vegetarian). There are lots of recipes on YouTube - I liked this one.
This is a festive lemon colour and an unusual take on an old favourite. It makes enough for at least 8 people. Prepare over 2 days.
- 1 pint double cream
- 8 ozs single cream
- 10 ozs caster or icing sugar
- 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (it's a bore to do but gives a wonderful flavour)
- 5 egg yolks
- 6 - 8 ozs freshly squeezed lemon juice (sorry it has to be fresh, not bottled)
How to prepare
Put double cream, sugar, and lemon zest in a saucepan, bring to simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved (about 5 mins). Remove from heat and let it rest for 10 mins.
Beat egg yolks in a separate bowl. Add the mixture in pan to eggs in bowl slowly and gently, then pour back into saucepan (doing it this way so it doesn't curdle). Stir over low heat until mixture thickens (about 10 mins) then cool, cover and leave in fridge overnight.
Next day, stir in lemon juice and freeze in a covered container until you need it. Take out of freezer a few minutes before you need to eat (time depends on how hot the day!)
Decorate with swirls of cream / crystallised violets / miniature Easter eggs.
Well done Tesco for selling unwashed potatoes! The soil that adheres to potatoes and other root veg acts as a natural preservative and they last much longer. Let's hope other supermarkets follow. And of course, if you shop at a local green-grocers they probably already supply vegetables this way so they are worth cultivating too.