The lengthy root veg season is drawing to a close, so this is a final tribute to their wide variety, as well as their ability to combine deliciously with fish of all types. The summer months bring wonderful alternatives in the form of peas, beans and all manner of salad leaves, but the root vegetables indigenous to the UK are both numerous (I can count ten varieties without really trying) and versatile. Of course, we can buy carrots, onions and potatoes all year – and, these days, leeks
When it comes to white fish, the choice is far wider than it used to be. When once we were restricted to cod or hake – both fantastic fish – we can choose from whiting, megrim and pollack, too. I so love fish, but the only type that I am not much enamoured of is tilapi. Its dull taste and texture can't be helped by being flown from the other side of the world. I can't think why anyone bothers to transport such a dismal fish, especially when its carbon finprint is contributing to global warming! So, tilapi apart, use whatever type of fish appeals to you in these following recipes – the fish stated in the ingredients is only meant to be a guideline.
STEAM-BAKED WHITING FILLETS, ROAST CELERIAC AND THYME PUREE WITH TOASTED PINENUTS
2 celeriac, each peeled and cut into chunks about 1in/2.5cm in size
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
a good grinding of black pepper – about 15 grinds of the mill
1 sprig of thyme, about 3in/7cm long
6 fillets of whiting, each weighing about 6oz/170g
3 more tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, each washed well and dried, and sliced thinly
a grating of nutmeg
3oz/85g pinenuts, dry-fried to golden brown
Start by roasting the celeriac; line a baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment (to save on washing up) and put the celeriac chunks onto it. Add the three tablespoons of olive oil and the salt and pepper, mixing thoroughly so that each chunk is smeared with oil. Lay the thyme sprig on top, and roast in a hot oven, 200C/400F/ Gas Mark 6, for 30 minutes. Turn over the celeriac chunks and roast for a further 15 to 20 minutes or until the celeriac is completely soft. Take the tray from the oven, discard the sprig of thyme and allow the celeriac to cool slightly. Then put it into a food processor and whiz till smooth. Scrape the pure into a warm bowl and keep it in a low temperature oven until you are ready to serve it.
To steam-bake the fish, lay a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray and put the whiting fillets on this. Trickle about half a tablespoon of olive oil over each fillet. Cover with the lemon slices, strew the parsley and chives over the lemon and add a grating of nutmeg. Cover with a second sheet of baking parchment and tuck the edges of the papers together, to seal the fish into a sort of envelope. Bake in a hot oven, 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6, for 7 to 10 minutes. Exactly how long is impossible to state because fish varies in thickness.
To serve, divide the pured roast celeriac between each of six warmed plates and put a piece of fish – lemon, parsley and chives removed – on each. Scatter each plate with the toasted pinenuts.
FILLETS OF SALMON IN JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE pure WITH CRISPY BACON
Odd-sounding, but delicious, the fish bakes within a pure of Jerusalem artichokes. This is meant to be served in soup plates and eaten with a spoon and fork.
2 shallots, each skinned and chopped
11/2 lb/675g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and quartered
2 pints/1.15 litres good stock – either chicken stock or, more conveniently, Marigold stock powder made up with boiling water
salt and pepper, to taste – I like white pepper for this, but black will do
6 pieces of filleted, organically farmed salmon, each weighing around 6oz/170g, skin removed
a grating of nutmeg
2 tablespoons very finely snipped chives
8oz/225g best quality bacon bits or pancetta, fried till crisp, then drained well of fat and placed on a couple of thicknesses of absorbent kitchen paper
Put the quartered artichokes in the saucepan with the hot stock, add the diced shallots and bring the stock back to simmering point. Simmer, uncovered, until the artichoke pieces are completely soft and squishable against the sides of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon.
Cool the contents of the pan, then liquidise to a silky thick pure and taste. Season accordingly with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour the pure into a saut pan which has a lid, then slip the pieces of salmon into this. Cover the pan with its lid and gently reheat till the soupy mixture simmers. Cook gently for 5 minutes, then take the lid off the pan and, with 2 forks, carefully prise open the thickest part of one of the fillets. It should look juicy and just slightly flaky. If it still looks undercooked, replace the lid and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Beware overcooking the salmon.
Carefully – I use a fish slice – lift each piece of cooked salmon into each warmed soup plate and spoon the Jerusalem artichoke pure around. Scatter the finely snipped chives and some of the crispy bacon or pancetta over and serve immediately.
SMOKED TROUT FILLETS with BEETROOT and horseradish CRME FRACHE
Serve hot baked jacket potatoes with this, or the first new potatoes, steamed, with dill.
6 hot-smoked trout, skinned and filleted, as many bones removed as possible
For the crme frache mixture:
6 medium-sized beetroot – fresh, not from an inferior pre-cooked pack
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pint/285ml crme frache
3 good teaspoons horseradish – beware anything with too much vinegar (I prefer Moniack's or Isabella's Relishes)
1 tablespoon finely snipped chives
finely grated rind of 1 orange, well washed and dried before grating
1/2 teaspoon salt
about 15 grinds of black pepper
Peel and coarse-grate the beetroot into a saut pan and add the olive oil. Over moderately high heat, stir-fry the grated beetroot for 3 to 4 minutes, then take the pan from the heat and cool. Tip the crme frache into a bowl and stir in the horseradish, snipped chives and grated orange rind. Stir in the salt and pepper and mix well, adding the cooled, grated beetroot.
Pile the beetroot crme frache mixture into a bowl or, if you prefer, place two smoked trout fillets on each of six plates and put a small mound of the mixture to one side.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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