Sunday, 27 January 2013

Jansson's Temptation (or The Scandi Fainted with Delight)

I wanted to try this out for ages but it wasn't until very recently that I found a shop selling the requisite Swedish anchovies, which are actually sprats pickled in a quite sweet brine. Swedish ansjovis (sprats) are, I think, reasonably good on the marine conservation stakes, being mature fish when they are caught.

They are also pretty healthy, containing lots of omega oils. If you frame it with the high levels of vitamin A in the cream, plus vitamin C and B6 in the potato, this isn't a totally unhealthy dinner... but saying that, it's carb heavy and contains double cream so it's probably not an everyday dinner! This would go really well with a lovely side of steamed spinach or broccoli.

So first up, dice two onions and saute them in a little oil and a little butter. While that's cooking, thinly slice several potatoes - it's important that they are really thin or they won't cook through.

Open up the tin of ansjovis and cut each one in half, then butter an oven proof dish and preheat the oven to 180°C. Take the frying pan off the heat and divide out half of the onions, you'll use half now and half in the creamy sauce later on.

Put a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the dish, sprinkle with onion and then lay peices of fish over the top. The, another layer of potatoes, more onion, more fish and so on until all the fish, potatoes and half of the onions are used up.

Put the frying pan back on the heat with the second half of the onions still in there, add half a pot of crème fraîche and half a pot of double cream, stir until melted together and season well with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper. Pour over the top of the potato-onion-fish layers.

Then the crispy topping - I use crackers, as in cheese and biscuits! Left over crackers, water biscuits and so on are perfect all crumbled up and sprinkled over the top. Dot with lots of butter and then bung in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Poke it with a fork to see if the potatoes are done.

* I bought my ansjovis when I went to the Scandinavian Kitchen shop one Saturday. The base inspiration for the recipe above came from Scandalicious by Signe Johansen

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Classic Kedgeree (aka When Butter Attacks)

Oh, I know I should feel bad, over 5 months since my last post. If you make this dish though, I feel sure you'll forgive me. It is inexcusably bad for you but what the hell!

I first made this, gosh, around 10 years ago when I was given Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, which just goes to show that life, sometimes, imitates art. As always, I play it by ear now when I make it, but my favourite Discworld witch (Nanny is a hedonethicist too I think!) was definitely the inspiration for this filling brunch.

Ok, so the first thing you need is a big ole fillet of smoked fish. Tartrazine yellow is not a colour I associate with a tasty fish dinner, so I tend to buy the undyed variety. I understand that some fishmongers sell naturally yellowed fish (undyed but turned yellow from smoking in a certain way), if you find that then buy it for some colourful fun! Vegetarian? Try chickpeas or lentils instead, they work very nicely with the same accompaniments.

Cook a cup of rice, either the old fashioned way or using a ricebot, at the same time boil up a couple of eggs until hard boiled. When the rice is almost ready, put the fish into a deep frying pan with a half and half mix of water and milk; the liquid should come to halfway up the side of the fish.

Poach the fish, skin side down, until almost cooked through, then flip over and cook for a further couple of minutes to finish it off. The fish should be opaque, but still tender. Drain the fish and place it to one side - don't leave unattended in the presence of greedy cats.
Chop up an onion, I like purple in this because they are sweet but any will do, and a good handful of mushrooms if you have any. Aubergine or any leafy greens work with this too. Heat an obscene amount of butter, as much as you dare, in the frying pan (wiped clean) and gently fry the vegetables. 

When cooked, sprinkled over a good tablespoon or more, to taste, of curry powder, plus seasoning and give it 30 seconds to heat up before adding all the rice and coating well in the aromatic buttery sauce. Finally, flake in the fish, taking care to remove any bones, and top with chopped egg.