Saturday, April 16, 2011

Forman & Field Smoked Salmon

To my utter astonishment and amusement, I was recently emailed by Forman & Field (the online gourmet shop that specialises in independent producers) who had read my blog and wondered if I'd review some of their smoked salmon if they sent a pack of their 'London Cure' to me.  Being deeply cynical 'where's the catch' was my immediate reaction followed by 'what if I don't like it?'.  Greed outweighed such silly concerns and so a package was promptly dispatched.

I rarely buy smoked salmon for myself and so to receive a pack of 'H. Forman & Son London Cure Smoked Scottish Salmon' was a real treat.  According to the packaging, Formans are the oldest salmon smoker in Britain, started in 1905.  They claim that their London Cure is one of the most delicate as the idea is to taste the salmon, not the smoke.  They also recommend that one doesn't serve the salmon with lemon as it disguises the fish's natural flavour.

So, what should one serve it with?  I took Formans' advice and had my first slice unadorned.  The fish had a rich, silky texture and melted beautifully on my tongue.  Although it was far from cloying, I decided that I personally needed a touch of acidity to cut through the richness of the fish.  It certainly wasn't the smokiest fish I'd ever tasted but instead had a sweet character that was akin to chestnuts and peat.

Formans' generous gift saw me through two meals.  The first, a simple open sandwich (on a gluten free roll) accompanied by a simple salad including my favourite broad beans with a drizzle of lime juice.  

The lime was a touch too far and so I experimented with alternative sources of acidity and arrived at an elegant solution of preserved lemons, dill, capers and mere touch of Dijon mustard which I mixed with prawns, peas and beans and served with the final slices of salmon, nestled on a bed of finest English round lettuce.  Springtime on a plate.

Personally I like a touch of zing and so sorry H. Forman & Sons - this sampler will continue to add lemon (albeit in the preserved, salty form).  So, the overall verdict?  Lovely texture, gorgeous natural colour and subtle sweet flavour and very rich.  Not to be eaten everyday but then it wouldn't be such a treat, now would it?!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cauliflower – My Vegetable Epiphany

My daily diet relies heavily on fruit, vegetables and pulses (oh, and I confess, wine!) and very happy I am with that indeed.  Nothing gives me greater pleasure than a pile of crisp radishes with salt and capers, a chickpea and spinach stew or an aromatic and warming dhal.  Vegetables and I enjoy a happy friendship.  I have even managed to overcome my childhood fear of the broad bean (curse those frozen vegetable mixes and thank goodness for my long suffering father who turned a blind eye to his three daughters picking them out and piling them on his plate before our mother noticed).  And yet there is one vegetable from which I have shied and, before a fortnight ago, had never purchased in my adult life.  The cauliflower.

Why?  Now that’s an interesting question and I’m not quite sure why.  Perhaps I associate it heavily with cauliflower cheese – which obviously is never going to pass the lips (or hips) of this cow’s dairy intolerant (and weight conscious) cook.  Yet a recent salad box from Whole Foods tickled my tastebuds with the joys that this bland, white veg can hold with their curried florets.  Could I recreate something similar at home I wondered?  I made up the following recipe which, I have to say, is rather delicious, either alone or alongside a silky bowl of dhal.  I made the recipe up by slinging ingredients together so forgive the rather vague quantities and adapt to your own taste.

Roasted Fragrant Cauliflower
(serves 3-4 as a side dish)
1 large head of cauliflower, outer leaves and stem removed, divide into florets
½ head of garlic, divided into individual cloves but left in their papery skins
1 lemon
2-3 tbsp olive oil
½ - 1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin

Preheat oven to 180C
Pop the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves into a large roasting dish (ensure that the dish is large enough for them to sit in one layer)
Zest the lemon over the cauliflower, juice the lemon and pour over the veg. 
Pour in the oil, throw in the spices and mix well to coat everything with the pungent covering.
Throw in the lemon halves if you like roasted lemons.
Put in the middle of a preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, tossing half way through.

Next time I may toast some almond slices and toss them in before serving and perhaps some flat-leaf parsley.