My fresh Salmon, Asparagus tartlets use my favourite fresh herb has to be dill and my vegetable garden is full of it and I’m always looking for ways to use it (you can search for Marinated Courgette with Dill -another favourite recipe). Fresh herbs make such a fab difference to your cooking and I try to fresh herbs when they are in season. Dried herbs just don’t taste like the real thing and I’d much rather cook something different & seasonal. I know that you can get basil in a supermarket in December but it just isn’t the same. All is not lost however if you can’t do this, some fresh herbs freeze very well including dill (hoorah), parsley and coriander. Just chop them up and put in a plastic bag ( a zip lock bag is good as you are going to dip in and out of it). Pat it out so the herbs are just in a thin layer and freeze. After that, a quick scrunch means that they aren’t frozen in a block and easy to use as you want.
I digress, these Salmon and Asparagus & Dill tartlets are delicious and look so pretty. They do take a bit of effort but you can’t always be a slouch and if you want to impress then give these a go. You can use all different sorts of fillings as long as it is previously cooked and bind it with the ‘basic tart mix’ and away you go. The cases can be made well ahead and frozen. If I have some leftover pastry I often use it for a tart or two (it’s surprising how little pastry they take), freeze it and then I can use them when I want. You can also do the same with sweet pastry (with fillings such as strawberries, raspberries or my favourite lemon tart). Lable them carefully, I have to admit that whilst testing this recipe I mixed them up and my son got a very strange tasting tart! It was a lucky dip 3 were with sweet pastry and three with ordinary pastry. Hmmm…
Here is a extra special creamy fish pie for Easter an ooh and aah moment at your Easter celebrations. Everyone loves a pie and because they take a bit of extra time to make we don’t make them so often hence the oohs and aaahs. This one is extra special with leeks, smoked fish, prawns and eggs.
Making a white sauce:
It is so simple to make a white sauce using the microwave method and much easier to get rid of lumps. Add some extra butter at the end and I can’t really tell the difference. If you don’t agree I have included the instructions to make it with a roux ie melting butter, stirring in the flour and then whisking in the hot milk. It seems a palaver to me but I guess it isn’t if you are used to doing it this way and take a hard line on the ‘right’ way to do things!
If you want to make it ahead of time just cool it quickly and open freeze. When it is frozen you can protect it with a freezer bag. To eat the pie take it out of the freezer in plenty of time for it to defrost and then cook as before.
I’m having a large family gathering this year so I’ll be making this ahead of time to leave lots of time for chocolate Easter egg eating. Got to get your priorities sorted after all.
My veg patch is still producing salad leaves, spicy rocket, peppery mustard and frilly lettuce. Plus the beans are just starting to produce, picked when tiny-an ‘unbuyable’ late summer treat. These ‘White Lady’ runner beans are delicious and the white flowers very pretty, behind them you can just catch a glimpse of the sultry, dark ‘Purple Cascade’ French beans. Another good looker for the plot. Hmm..now what to make?
This fresh salmon nicoise would be lovely for a late summer evening perfect eaten in the garden with a glass of something cold and fizzy. Ok I know I’m getting carried away here. It is highly unlikely that this will take place in Cumbria in September but perhaps we really will get an Indian summer.
This is easily put together and then whipped out to impress.
FRESH SALMON NICOISE
Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as main course with crusty bread.
Well it’s been a while, call it the post Christmas doldrums and the rather gloomy wet weather here in West Cumbria. I am up and running now with all my good intentions and plans for the New Year. My taste buds need a little livening and this salmon recipe is just the job. Nice and light and very zesty and so quick to prepare you will be astonished – if you get a wriggle on you could have it prepared and in the oven in 10 minutes and on your plate in 20 minutes and have lots of time left for all those other intentions…
The sun is beating down on beautiful Cumbria today-I have no desire to be next to my aga today so this will be a quick, possibly romantic, meal for two. I knew there must be some advantages to having an empty nest. You can have this on the table in a trice with a few freezer/store cupboard items. I used good quality frozen raw large prawns-not just because I didn’t want to venture forth-it would be lovely to have ‘local catch’ prawns available for when the urge takes me but it is not always possible, and, depending where you live, almost impossible. Most of the ‘ordinary’ prawns you see on the fish counter-cooked and therefore pink in colour, have been frozen previously and defrosted for sale. They freeze well, often immediately on the fishing vessel before they have even touched shore, but they don’t travel well so it is often best to buy them frozen raw (grey in colour) which gives you control over the whole fishy process.
When buying any sort of prawn get them in the shell and peel them yourself the flavour is much better and you can use the shells to make a quick fish stock if you are feeling virtuous….Defrost your prawns on some kitchen paper to make sure that they don’t sit in water and this helps to keep the flavour. If you are lucky and geographically in the optimum place and are able to buy fresh they should smell ‘fresh’ and not ‘fishy’ and have bright shells with no darkening or black spots.
One more thing….what is a prawn or a shrimp………the classification and names of prawns can be confusing and open to interpretation: Generally speaking we buy PRAWNS in the UK, small, medium or large. They can also be called TIGER PRAWNS or KING PRAWNS for the larger ones or just NORTH ATLANTIC PRAWNS. Most prawns are called SHRIMP in the USA. Here in the north west we have very small brown prawns which WE call shrimps-these delicious little mouthfuls are fished along the Solway coast. They are lovingly hand peeled and when potted up with butter and a little mace are a true Cumbrian delicacy. The mediterranean prawns are sometimes called CREVETTES. DUBLIN BAY PRAWNS (also known as LANGOUSTINES) are much larger and look like little lobsters with heads eyes and claws…………………………………..CONFUSED? so am I.