Well, this week we have finally managed to get away for a few days (I am therefore posting this weeks recipes a little earlier than normal!). You may remember that a few weeks ago, I mentioned that we had been hoping to have a short break in North Yorkshire, but unfortunately the second lockdown scuppered our plans. We rearranged our dates for this week, and fortunately, although we are under tier 2 rules, our ‘get away’ is allowed! The weather will be a little colder than we had originally planned, but we are planning to wrap up warm and enjoy a few refreshing walks in between eating lots of good food – we will be trying my Wensleydale restaurant list!…Hopefully, I will return to my kitchen inspired!…
In the meantime I have been continuing to think about simple recipes we can all enjoy over the Christmas period, and this week I have some real treats!
Menu one is Cullen Skink with Anchovy Puffs. This soup is a traditional Scottish recipe made from smoked haddock, it is great as a dish on its own with lots of crusty bread or as a starter before a special meal – in the past I have served it as a lovely light supper dish on Christmas Eve; I like fish Christmas Eve, as it is a light introduction to the following days heavy menu! The Anchovy Puffs are a recipe which you will definitely thank me for, they are absolutely delicious, not just with this soup but also as canapes with a glass of champagne! Menu Two is Smoked Duck Salad with Orange & Pomegranate, once again this is great as a starter – it’s particularly lovely before Christmas dinner, but is equally good as a light supper dish. I would definitely recommend that you get some smoked duck in the house for the Christmas period, as this dish is so easy to ‘throw’ together, yet very impressive. Menu Three is Venison Mince with Celeriac Mash, a great midweek dinner, warming and tasty. The venison gives this mince dish a lovely rich flavour whilst the addition of redcurrant jelly lends it a subtle sweetness. Finally, Menu Four is Raspberry Clafoutis, a beautifully light custard dessert which seems to complement most meals as although creamy it is quite light, so is a fantastic recipe to have over this festive period – a great finish to heavy meals!
In addition, I thought we should all enter into the Christmas spirit, covid or no covid!…and so on my MenuMusic page I am sharing some of my favourite Christmas tunes (here), so you can cook along to them!…
Cullen Skink with Anchovy Puff Pastries (Serves 4)
Cullen Skink is a Scottish recipe from the village of Cullen in the Highlands, which is the home of finnan haddock (a local smoked haddock), the traditional ingredient of this soup. ‘Skink’ means ‘essence’, so in other words this soup is the ‘Essence of Cullen’. It is a completely satisfying soup with an elegant air, thus is as at home on a fancy dinner table served to guests, as it is served to family members for a casual midweek meal.
350g potatoes (such a Maris Piper), peeled and cut into pieces
350g smoked haddock fillet
1 medium onion, diced
150ml single cream
1 rounded tablespoon parsley, chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
- Put the potato pieces in a pan of cold, salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and mash.
- Put the haddock in a saucepan with 425ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 7-10 minutes until it is cooked. Lift out the fish, discard the skin and any bones (strain and reserve the cooking liquid). Flake the fish into large pieces.
- Wipe out the saucepan, use it to cook the diced onion in the butter over a low heat for about 4-5 minutes until soft. Then add the reserved cooking liquid and mashed potato, cook over a medium heat, stirring to incorporate the potato.
- Reduce the heat, slowly add the milk and then the fish. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the cream and parsley, and season with salt and pepper.
- Ladle into bowls and serve with the hot anchovy puff pastries (recipe below).
Anchovy Puff Pastries
These Anchovy Puffs are a recipe which you will definitely thank me for, they are absolutely delicious, not just with Cullen Skink, but also as canapés with a glass of champagne! The combination of the cold, salty ice cream inside the hot puff pastries is divine. I have recently discovered ‘Jus Roll’ gluten free puff pastry, and I must say I was very impressed with it, so if you are gluten free, you can still enjoy these delicious puffs…in fact the Anchovy Puffs pictured above were made with it!
They are very easy to make, the ice cream is not ‘proper’ ice cream so does not need stirring – you just mix and freeze! The puff pastries can be frozen – just defrost and reheat before serving.
1 egg yolk
60g cream cheese
120ml double cream, lightly whipped
25g anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 packet of ready rolled puff pastry (gluten free if required)
1 egg, beaten
1-2 tablespoons of porridge oats
A little flour of rolling (gluten free if required)
- In a small bowl lightly whisk the egg yolk until creamy. Whisk in the cream cheese and then stir in the lightly whipped double cream, chopped anchovies, cayenne pepper and parsley. Transfer to a shallow container and freeze for about 2 hours until hard (there is no need to stir this ice cream).
- On a lightly floured surface unroll the pastry. Using a 3” round cutter, cut out circles and transfer to a baking sheet. Then take a small knife and ‘knock up’ the edges of the pastry to encourage rising. Chill for 30 minutes before baking.
- Brush the pastry circles with the beaten egg and sprinkle with some porridge oats. Bake in a preheated oven, 220’c fan, for 7-10 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.
- Remove the pastries and whilst still hot split them in half across the middle and spoon the anchovy ice cream into each.
- Serve straight away either with the Cullen Skink (recipe above) or as canapés with a glass of champagne!
Smoked Duck Salad with Orange & Pomegranate (Serves 4)
This is great as a starter, but is equally good as light supper dish. If you can’t find ready cooked smoked duck breasts locally, you can buy them online, I would recommend those from Farmison & Co.
2 ready cooked smoked duck breasts (see note above)
1 pomegranate (or fresh pomegranate seeds)
Handful of walnuts
1 bag mixed salad leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Juice and zest of an orange
Sea salt and black pepper
- Place the walnuts on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven, 180’c, for about 7-10 minutes (keep a eye on them!).
- If using a whole pomegranate, seed it. Peel one of the oranges, slice it into segments (remove any pith), and juice and zest the other.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients, seasoning to taste.
- Slice the duck breasts
- Divide the salad leaves between 4 plates, add the orange segments, pomegranate seeds and walnuts. Place sliced duck in the centre and drizzle with the dressing.
Venison Mince with Celeriac Mash (Serves 4)
This is a great midweek dinner, warming and tasty. The venison gives this mince dish a lovely rich flavour, whilst the addition of redcurrant jelly lends a subtle sweetness which is complemented beautifully by the roughly mashed celeriac. This is a recipe which I have taken from Tom Aikens cookbook, ‘Tom Aikens Cooking’ – although he is a Michelin starred chef, this is a very simple recipe!
These days it is easy to buy venison from your butcher – just ask him to mince it for you (diced shoulder is the best cut for this).
400g venison mince
150ml olive oil
25g unsalted butter
3 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 onions, peeled and diced small
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
150g button mushrooms, sliced
1 rounded tablespoon plain flour (gluten free if required)
2 level tablespoons of tomato purée
200ml chicken stock
200ml red wine
40g redcurrant jelly
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon each of chopped parsley, thyme and sage
Sea salt and black pepper
- Place a casserole over a medium heat, add the oil , when hot add the mince and season with salt and pepper. Brown in the pan for about 5 minutes. Tip the mince into a colander with a bowl underneath to catch the juices.
- Place the casserole back over the heat and return the drained juices to the pan with the butter. Cook the carrot for 5 minutes then add the onion and garlic and cook for a further 5-7 minutes until golden. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Return the mince to the casserole, add the flour stirring well and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a minute, then add the stock, red wine, redcurrant jelly, bay leaf and fresh herbs.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring now and again.
- Serve with the celeriac mash (recipe below).
Simple Celeriac Mash (Serves 4)
This is what I call my ‘rough and ready’ celeriac mash – I also cook another recipe with potato and garlic which is more of a purée, so more refined. This ‘rough and ready’ version is excellent for a quick midweek supper; the texture and flavour, with its hint of lemon, complements the venison mince perfectly (recipe above).
500g celeriac, peeled and chopped into 2 cm pieces
35g unsalted butter
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
Sea salt and black pepper
- Place a pan over a medium heat, add the butter, when melted add the celeriac and thyme, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes adding the lemon juice halfway through cooking.
- Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes until soft.
- Mash and check seasoning (adding more lemon juice if required).
Raspberry Clafoutis (Serves 4)
This recipe for Clafoutis is wonderfully light and rather like a baked custard, it is definitely the best clafoutis recipe I have tried. I found the recipe in Simon Hopkinson’s wonderful cookbook, ‘Roast Chicken and Other Stories’. I have been known to eat this dessert cold for breakfast!!…
(I think it is perfect served on its own, but in his cookbook, Simon Hopkinson does suggest a dollop of whipping cream if you fancy!)
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
250ml whipping cream
A tiny pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon potato flour (fécule de pommes de terre)
A little sifted icing sugar
Softened butter to grease dishes
Whipping cream to serve (optional)
- Put the vanilla pod in a small pan with the whipping cream and salt. When just coming to the boil remove from the heat and whisk carefully to dislodge the vanilla seeds from the pod into the cream. Cover and leave to infuse for 30 minutes or so.
- Take four ovenproof dishes – I use small individual soufflé dishes – or you could use one large dish if you like, either way butter the dish(es) and arrange the raspberries evenly in them.
- Beat together the egg and egg yolks, caster sugar and potato flour, then incorporate the cream and whisk together.
- Carefully pour over the raspberries, so as not to dislodge them. Then place the dishes in a roasting tin. Fill the tin with water so that it comes at least halfway up the sides of the dishes then sift a little icing sugar over their surface.
- Carefully place in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 25-30 minutes until slightly puffed and a little wobbly – if using a larger dish you may need to increase the cooking time by 10 minutes or so.
- Switch off the oven and open the door. Leave them like this, in the oven for a further 5 minutes before removing. Take the dishes out of the roasting dish and allow to cool to lukewarm before serving with a little more icing sugar sifted over (and with some whipped cream if you fancy!).