Monday, 17 February 2014
A little ditty about a new house, being too busy to blog and a herby salmon traybake - Whole Roasted Salmon with Herbs and Lemon
As it is two months since I last blogged, one could be forgiven for thinking that I had jacked the whole thing in and decided to do something else instead, and whilst I have been doing something else (let it be said, though many do not want to hear it, that the work of a teacher does not end at 3pm and that I don't spend 13 weeks a year doing nothing school worthy; my marking is in the hall and my email is on, waiting for the inevitable emails from my A level students who have reached a state of coursework panic.) But half term does afford me the time to blog and I have kinda missed it, to be fair.
Also, in between being marooned in the school stuff, Phill and I decided to pick the Christmas holidays to move house. Father Christmas visited something resembling a squat with all of us sleeping on mattresses on the floor and each room containing several boxes of junk which we really should have binned before we moved, but, it'll happen eventually, probably at Easter when I get sick of trying to find places to hide stuff I haven't used for yonks and hire a skip. You may or may not be pleased to know that the house is now resembling more of a home than a warehouse.
My dining area. Yes you're right, I do need a new table, or else I need to get the sander out...
My armoire, adorned with fairy lights, where I keep all my 'best stuff'.
Cookbook bookcase number one. Sadly I need cookbook bookcase number two and have nowhere to put it.
Flowers for my birthday
The kitchen bit. Yes, you're right, I should have shifted my empties and picked whatever that is off the floor.
Lola, in the 'hub'...
...and Finn reckons it's a great place to play 'Angry Birds'
Anyway, it is nice to have a new dining area which is part of the kitchen and has become a bit of a hub really with those who have come round so far, sitting at the table and having a bit of a gab, whilst I have been cooking or whatever. And it is true that I haven't completely turned into a 'Mum's gone to Iceland' kind of mum; I am still cooking where I can, but it's the weekend when I have more time to bang around the pots and pans. Only thing is though, I take photographs of the process but on four occasions I have not taken a photo of the finished article, so absolutely no use at all then for blogging.
However, I did manage to take pictures of the gorgeous salmon dish that I cooked for my birthday dinner on Saturday night (whisper it, I am now 40...) which if I trusted my new oven a bit more would really have been a cinch, but because I have found the oven to be a bit like its new owner, I have to err on the side of caution, which meant that the timing on the recipe below is very much a guide.
Because my mum has told me that I really need to make things easy on myself, I decided to go back to the Jamie Oliver 'throw everything in a tray' style of cooking and this, actually tasted really rather good. It was just, in essence, a series of chopping, seasoning and then bunging in the oven and it tasted great once it came out of the oven; it was certainly a meal that lends itself to a 'dig in, you're at your aunty's' type of arrangement with everyone gathering around taking what they wanted. In my nice new kitchen and eating 'hub', it was a meal that matched the occasion and the surroundings completely.
Whole Roasted Salmon with Herbs and Lemon, adapted from jamieoliver.com
2.5 kg whole salmon, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, scaled and gutted (I used two half sides of salmon, mainly because they were on offer!!)
1.5 kg red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed clean and sliced into ½cm rounds
freshly ground black pepper
6 pieces baby fennel (I used a large fennel bulb and sliced it up)
1 small bunch fresh dill
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small bunch fresh tarragon
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to full whack. Get yourself a large roasting tray that your whole salmon will fit inside – you'll probably need to lay the fish diagonally across the tray, and it won't matter if the head and tail drape over a little.
Lay the sliced potatoes over the base of the tray and season well with salt and pepper. Scatter the slices of fennel over the top and give it all a generous drizzle of olive oil.
Next, pick half the leaves from each of the herb bunches and put them on a chopping board, keeping the remainder to one side. Grate the lemon zest over the herbs then roughly chop everything together. Scrape this mixture into a bowl and wipe the board down with a piece of kitchen paper.
Transfer your salmon to the board, then wipe it inside and out with a fresh piece of kitchen paper. Make sure there are no scales on the silvery salmon skin – the fishmonger should have taken all of these off for you. If there are any left on there, scrape them with a blunt knife until they ping off. (Surprisingly I had to do this - I bought two sides of salmon that I was planning to put on top of one another and as they had been bought pre-packed I hoped they had been descaled, but they hadn't. I used the back of a knife and scraped the scales into the sink).
Make vertical slashes in the skin on both sides of the salmon from its back towards its tummy – about 2cm deep and at an angle, so you leave a flap of skin you can stuff your herbs under. Make about 6 slashes on each side of the fish.
Sprinkle salt and pepper into each slash, then stuff with a pinch of your lemon-herb mix. Smooth the flaps down again and drizzle the fish all over with a light coating of olive oil. Lay it on top of your potatoes and fennel.
Take the leftover herb bunches and stuff them inside the belly cavity of the fish, then slice up one of the zested lemons and stuff these slices in there as well.
Bake the fish in your screaming hot oven for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 and cook for another 30 minutes. (This is where I did not use a screaming hot oven as I was quite scared of burning the salmon, so I lowered the temperature to 180 and put some foil over the baking tray and cooked for half an hour before taking the foil off. If you know the foibles of your oven, then you'll be fine with what Jamie says, I'm sure. In total, mine took about an hour to cook.)
To check the fish is cooked, take a clean skewer and push it into the deepest part of the fish, just behind the head. Count to 10, then carefully take the skewer out and hold it against your top lip. If it's nice and warm, the fish is cooked.
Squeeze the juice of your remaining lemon over the top, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve straight from the roasting tray.