Sometimes a magazine recipe comes up trumps

February 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

I spotted a recipe in last month’s edition of the M&S food magazine for something they called “Salmon and ricotta brunch”. Practically every food publication that comes out at this time of the year features healthy eating and detox options. The brunch recipe was billed as being high protein fuel for those concerned with their health and nutrition. The recipe title wasn’t great, nor was the health-food angle but the picture looked pretty so I gave it a go and was really pleased with the result.

At the time I decided it was far too fussy a dish to make for breakfast. Who wants to tumble out of bed on a Sunday morning and start separating eggs for goodness’ sake!

But on reflection, if you’re in the right frame of mind, with a bit of forward planning it is manageable and making this dish for a second time at the weekend, the process seemed a whole lot easier.

Don’t let the whole seventies-retro vibe feel of a roulade put you off either. The end result is delicious, filling, and yes, being high-protein and low carb probably counts as healthy too.

I bet you’re thinking that the roulade in the picture looks just a tad too golden-brown. You’re right as I mistakenly baked mine at 200 degrees C fan rather than the 190 degrees C fan I suggest in the recipe.

Salmon, spinach and ricotta roulade

Serves 8 for brunch or a light lunch.

Ingredients

For the roulade

50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
300 ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
60g grated parmesan
4 medium eggs at room temperature
freshly ground black pepper
2-3 further tablespoons grated parmesan

For the filling

240g bag ready-to-cook spinach
250g ricotta
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ grated nutmeg
175g cooked flaked salmon or hot-smoked salmon or trout

1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees C fan and line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
2. Make a very thick white sauce as the base of the roulade. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour and cook the resulting roux for a minute or two but do not allow to colour.
3. Take the pan off the heat and add the milk a little at a time whisking thoroughly after each addition. Return the pan to the heat (medium heat) and, whisking constantly, bring the mixture to the boil and cook for 4-5 minutes, again whisking all time to produce a thick smooth mixture.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the 60g grated parmesan. Mix well to incorporate then set the pan aside for the mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes. Stir it from time to time while it cools to stop a skin from forming.
5. Separate the eggs. Reserve the yolks and whisk the whites until firm but not too stiff and dry.
6. Beat the reserved egg yolks into the thick cheese sauce mixture.
7. Take a big spoonful of whisked egg white and mix it into the thick cheese sauce mixture to loosen it a little then add this mixture to the whisked egg whites. Fold together using a balloon whisk trying not to knock too much air out of the whisked mixture.
8. Carefully pour the roulade mixture into the prepared tin, spread it to the corners with a palette knife and sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons grated parmesan over the top.
9. Bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden-brown.
10. Meanwhile, lightly steam the spinach, squeeze out all the excess water, chop roughly and place in a bowl. Add the ricotta, salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to the bowl and mix thoroughly to combine.
11. Place a sheet of baking parchment on a work surface and when the roulade is cooked, turn it out onto the parchment. Peel away the parchment used to line the tin.
12. Quickly spread the spinach and ricotta mixture over the roulade and top with the flaked fish. Roll up the roulade using the parchment on the work surface to help create a tight roll.
13. Cut into slices with a serrated knife and serve while warm with roast cherry tomatoes if liked.
14. The rest of the roulade is good served cold for lunch the following day.

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An idea for a Valentine’s night supper

February 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

Here’s a quick idea for a special meal at home if you don’t fancy sharing an evening in a restaurant with couples out on an awkward first date, red roses and all that over-hyped jazz.

My suggested menu is built around a main course of Lobster Mac and Cheese. This is a world away from the stodgy macaroni cheese I remember from my childhood. It was a very on-trend dish last year but now that Marks and Spencers do a ready meal version I think we can say it’s truly become mainstream.

I’d wanted to give the dish a try but couldn’t bear the idea of using expensive and hard-to-source lobster in anything except it’s purest form. But then I saw the Iceland Christmas ad campaign and filled my chest freezer with 10 quid packets of pairs of Canadian lobster tails. Perfect for experimenting with different lobster recipes, be they salads, chowders or indeed lobster mac and cheese.

After a couple of trial runs, I’m quite pleased now with the recipe I’ve come up with. I’d accompany it with a crisp green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

To start, you could stay with the seafood theme and serve a pretty-as-a-picture crab, pink grapefruit and avocado salad.

To finish something fresh and light on carbs would be in order – maybe a lemon granita or fruit salad, and of course Champagne would be the perfect drink.

Lobster mac and cheese

Serves 2

Ingredients

180g dried macaroni or other small pasta shapes (I used conchigliette)
2 small cooked lobster tails, meat removed from the shell and cut into bite-size chunks
30g unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
25g plain flour
100ml Noilly Prat vermouth
350ml semi-skimmed milk
35ml double cream
2 teaspoons tomato purée
1 teaspoon paprika
generous pinch cayenne pepper
25g gruyère cheese
2 tablespoons chopped flatleaf parsley
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons Panko or similar dry breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C fan.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boilings salted water until just al dente then drain.

While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.

Melt the butter and sauté the chopped shallots for a minute or two until soft and translucent. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for a further minute.

Add the Noilly Prat, milk and cream a little at a time stirring well after each addition. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the tomato purée, paprika, cayenne pepper and gruyère cheese and stir to combine well and melt the cheese. Add the chopped parsley and season to taste.

Mix together the sauce, cooked pasta and lobster meat and turn into a shallow heatproof dish.

Sprinkle the grated parmesan and breadcrumbs over the top and bake in the preheated oven 210 degrees fan for about 15 minutes until piping hot and golden brown on top.

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