Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Cristiana's Plums Far, for The Recipe-Tionist

The first step, was trying to understand Flavia's recipe-tionist rules.
Once I got it, I went to surf Cristiana's blog.

I've been surfing for hours.
I was looking for a recipe that was possible to make with the ingredients found here and that I could interpretate in kosher way, changing only one ingredient.
I was going to throw the towel when I ended up here.
The far. A french recipe. 
Intrigued by the use of fresh plums instead of dried, I continued reading.
I have to say that I am not a romantic person and I barely and rarely feel moved, but while I was reading, I saw my own grandmother.
I've found her light blue eyes, her tiny body moving in a small kitchen, her skills in the kitchen. Everything seemed easy looking at her.
I remembered her anger, "like a tiger" as Cristiana writes, when my sister Sarah died, so prematurely. The only difference is that my grandmother could not go on, she died of sorrow, two months later.
Unfortunately, she didn't left us a recipes notebook, she cooked by heart, I was only sixteen when she past away, not interested yet to learn about the kitchen mysteries. 

When I was measuring the milk for the far, I suddenly remembered the noise.

I could still hear the scrape of it. The long sound. Metal on metal.
Shrill like a scream, piercing the morning chill, and my dreams. Its sharp persistence disallowing silence and sleep. My grandmother emptying the porridge pot in the kitchen, cleaning carefully, edge to curved edge, with a spoon. The rule was: no waste.
I remembered the sullen complaints: my elder sister burrowing her head under the pillow and I pulling the covers over mine, in vain.
Every morning. My grandmother prepared porridge every morning, so we did not need an alarm clock in school time.
I have to admit now that all of a sudden, I miss that gray, gloopy mess.

But Cristiana's grandmother's far is much better:

 Fresh Plums Far

300 g fresh plums
200 g flour
150 g sugar
4 eggs
500 ml milk
1 tablespoon Armagnac
100 g butter
pinch of salt

Wash plums, cut in half and take out the bones. 
Warm the milk with the butter, until butter is melted. Allow to cool.
In a bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Add eggs and let the flour absorbing the eggs. 
Add the milk, working with an hand whisk in order to have a mix like the crêpes mix. Add the Armagnac. Set aside, for one hour.
Preheat oven at 180°.
Grease a 22 cm tick border tin and put the prunes on the bottom.
Cover with the dough and cook 45 minutes.
Serve cool.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Lox Terrine, with Piccalilli and Mizeria

Lox terrine, with Piccalilli and Mizeria.

New Delhi, March 2017

What is half French, half British, with a Polish accent?
No, it's not the doctor, it's my terrine for  Giuliana and MTC. 😊

First of all, I have to warn you, it's a very long job. It took 4 days to do it, but it can worth all the time spent in the kitchen.
Second, This is a real Nomad recipe. It has some of France (the terrine itself), some of England (the piccalilli) and some from Poland (the Mizeria Salad).
The idea came quite quickly. The difficulty was finding some of the ingredients in New Delhi Jungle of markets and little stores. 
When I told Ele I wanted a wild salmon fillet, you can't imagine her face. But, as she always is optimist she told me that she would find it and maybe knew where. And finally she did.
The unexpected Odyssey was for the English Mustard powder. 
-India is the country of mustard-she said.
-Yes, but...  it's really not the same for the piccalilli.
I know, she has patience just because she loves me, otherwise...😉
Well, Imagine to traverse a 23 millions inhabitants city, from north to south, east to west, only to find a little, tiny, yellow box of mustard.
Unbelievable in an ancient British colony, but true.
We finally found it, by a friend of her in the British High Commission. I had al last all the ingredients to start the long process of this terrine.
In the first moment, I imagined it entirely covered of lox. While I was mixing the ingredients, I changed my mind as I thought that it would be nicer and lighter folded in cucumber slices.
The clarified butter gives a nice taste and a spreadable texture, in addition to keep the terrine together.

I hope you'll enjoy.

Slice detail, ready to serve, at room temperature

Lox (salt cured salmon)

Make your lox at least three days ahead.

1 big, whole wild salmon fillet, skin on (mine was about 1 kg)
300 g coarse salt
100 g sugar

Start washing your salmon and ensure all bones are removed. If they are not, just take a plier and pull the bones off. 
Mix salt and sugar in a bowl and cover the fish with this mixture. Be generous, because the fish will absorb part of the salt mixture during the curing process. Next, wrap the fish in plastic and put it on a shallow dish (can be a pyrex). Put in the fridge with a weight on top. I used a large heavy dish with two wine bottles on top.
Check the salmon every 12 hours and eliminate any excess of liquid.
After 48 hours, you can check if it's enough cured to your taste. Normally, I prefer it a little more salty and consistent, which I achieve after three days.
When you feel it's done, rinse it well and slice it thinly.

-Once you cover the fish with salt, you can also put some aromatic ingredients such dill (the most common), lemon zest, zaatar, onion, herbs, pepper, shallots.... I didn't this time just because I wanted a "pure" tasting lox.
-You can freeze your lox cut in slices, ONLY if you bought a fresh fillet. Do not freeze if you started with a frozen fish.
-Try with smoked salt for a smoked salmon taste ;)

Another view of the finished and plated dish


250 g cauliflower
1 little cucumber (mine was 150 g)
half white onion
2 shallots
30 g fennel
30 g courgette
1 liter water
25 g salt
200 ml white wine vinegar
75 ml cider vinegar
1 red chili
1 bay leaf
25 g sugar
1 pinch turmeric
25 g english mustard powder
1 g xanthan gum*

Cut cauliflower in tiny florets. Peel, deseed and cut the cucumber in small cubes. Peel onions and shallots and chop roughly. Cut fennel and courgette in small cubes. 
Mix all vegetables and soak in water and salt for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
Wash the vegetables and pat dry throughly.  It's very important that vegetables are dry before adding them in the mustard cream.
In a saucepan, mix the vinegars, the red chili and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, strain, discard leaf and chili. 
Mix sugar, turmeric and mustard and add to the reduced vinegars. Mix well, cook for three minutes.
Allow cool, add the xanthan gum and make the mixture thicken with a stick blender.
Dip the vegetables and combine. Let macerate overnight.
Keep in a jar in de fridge until use.

*If you don't have xanthan gum, then mix 2 teaspoons cornstarch in the mustard mix before adding to reduced vinegars, and cook to thicken. I prefer xanthan just because it doesn't have any aftertaste.

Polish Mizeria Salad

300 g cucumber, peeled, deseeded, thiny sliced
150 g sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped

Slice the cucumber as thin as possible. Some people also use to grate the cucumber, do as you prefer.
Put the slices in a colander and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let drain the liquid for about 30 minutes. In a bowl, mix cucumber slices with sour cream, vinegar and dill (you can save some dill for decoration). Put in the fridge for one hour. Season with more salt, if needed, and pepper to taste before serving.

Lox Terrine

(for a 1 liter terrine)

1 leek
100 g clarified butter
1 big potato
400 g lox
3 shallots, peeled and finely diced
100 g cornichons, finely sliced
65 g capers, finely chopped
20 g flat parsley, finely chopped
10 g chives, finely chopped
200 g clarified butter
200 g fresh cucumber, finely sliced

Trim the green part of the leek. Ensure to cut it to the same length of the terrine. Blanch the leek in salty water until tender, drain and set aside.
Peel the potato and slice 1 cm thick. Melt 100 g of clarified butter, poach the potato slices and cook at very low temperature until soft but not overdone. The grease must to entirely cover the slices.  Potato has not to fry, not to take color, just be "confit", slowly cooked in the grease. When done, take out from the butter and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Chop the lox as a very fine "tartare". In a bowl, mix lox with the chopped shallots, cornichons, capers, chives and parsley.
Using the melted clarified butter in which you cooked the potatoes, generously brush the bottom and sides of the terrine. Finely slice the fresh cucumber and brush one side of each slice and stick the slices on the bottom and sides of terrine, to line it completely. The starch released by the potatoes will help cucumber slices to stick.
Melt the rest of new, unused clarified butter.
Start to layer the terrine with a first layer of lox mixture. Pour some of the butter and press the lox down.
Put the leek on this first layer, pressing a bit down, then cover with a new lox mixture layer and some of the melted butter. Lay down the potato slices on the length of the terrine. I've cut the round edges to make them line up, like one single slice. Push delicately down, being careful to not to break them. Cover with the last layer of lox mixture, pour another little amount of clarified butter.
Cover nicely with thin cucumber slices and finish with a little butter to fix.
Put your terrine on the fridge with an appropriate weight on the top, to press it overnight.

The whole terrine, just out from the fridge

What I did, was to cut a customized piece of cardboard at the same size of my terrine container. I folded it with cling wrap, covered the terrine with it and finally put a bowl filled of river stones on it.
As the butter will harden in the fridge, take out your terrine on time to serve at room temperature.
Gently, scrap out the excess of butter from the top.
Slice the terrine when still hard, leaving the slices at room temperature.
Serve sliced, with piccalilli and Mizeria salad.

-If you have time, use homemade clarified butter. It has a better taste and texture.
-MY MISTAKE: I should had minced the lox mixture more finely for a more refined result. The texture I got it's maybe right for a "terrine de campagne", but not for an elegant lox or smoked salmon one. Just my opinion.

Lox Terrine, still a bit hard, enough to cut it