Alison Roman’s Slow Salmon

Unlike roast chicken, for which I have no fewer than twelve favourite recipes, I genuinely thought I had salmon all sewn up. Completely satisfied with my fail safe method of cooking a whole side of fish to feed a crowd (and then to be be used in a few midweek meals) there was no need to look any further.

But on several middle-of-the-night-surfing exercises, Alison Roman’s famous Slow Roasted Salmon that first featured in Bon Apetit kept popping up. While lauded all over the internet, my skepticism kicked in around the benefits of cooking a naturally oily fish with a relatively large amount of olive oil and at a low temperature. So in all my ignorance, I skipped past the recipe, never attempting to see what all the fuss was about.

And then, Dining In, Alison’s new book hit the proverbial shelves of that famous internet bookshop, and landed on my front door mat. With, yes, a simplified version of her acclaimed recipe.  I relented. I made the low and slow salmon and there is no looking back. I am not giving up on my old trusted favourite recipe  but I have made this more than a few times in the past few weeks.

For anyone who also thinks they have found salmon nirvana, I invite you to add this one to your repertoire. Just to shake things up a little.

Slow Citrus Salmon, very loosely adapted from Dining In by Alison Roman

Do not balk at the amount of oil in this recipe. It keeps the fish ridiculously moist, and if you serve the fish at room temperature as part of a salad, it will act as the built in dressing.

I like to make this fish in a snug fitting ceramic dish, and then roughly break it up back into the dish to serve soaking up the citrussy oil covered with herbs. If you don’t have a ceramic dish to suit, use a rimmed baking sheet, but you may need to increase the oil amount so that the fish is almost halfway submerged.

Feel free to add fennel, freshly sliced or dried chilies, fresh herbs or any other flavour base of choice to permeate through the oil while the fish cooks.

I always make a whole side of salmon, as this makes superb leftovers. But if you want to make it for 4-6 people, reduce the oil to 180-250ml depending on the size of your dish.

1 side of salmon (approximately 1.5kg / 3lb), skinned

Salt and pepper

2  unwaxed lemons, sliced thinly into rounds (preferably organic)

2 clementines OR 1 blood orange Or 1 small orange, sliced thinly into rounds (preferably organic)

6 sprigs of thyme (or other herbs of choice)

250ml olive oil (or enough to come halfway up the side of the fish in the baking pan)

 

Optional topping for the cooked fish:

3 bunches mixed fresh herbs to serve (optional), parsley, coriander, dill, tarragon, chives, mint

1 tbsp lemon juice

 

Preheat oven to 150C (300F)

Line the bottom of a large baking dish (or rimmed baking sheet) that will hold the salmon snugly with half the sliced citrus and a few of the thyme sprigs

Season salmon well with salt (I use Malden) and pepper on both sides and place on top of the aromatics.

Arrange the rest of the sliced citrus and herbs on top of the fish

Drizzle the olive oil over everything and put it in the oven.

Cook until the salmon is just opaque and still slightly pink inside 25-35 minutes depending on the size of your fish and your baking dish.

I like to serve this salmon broken up into large pieces and tossed back into the citrussy oil and topped with torn herbs.

Enjoy!

 

BF Bites October Roundup

 

The Dusty Knuckle Apple Turnovers

Yes, I recently gave The Dusty Knuckle a glowing review. But that was all about the bread baked in their East London converted shipping container surrounded by flowers. Now I need to discuss their Apple Turnovers. These perfectly flaky half moon pastries filled with apples and custard satiate my sugar cravings any time of the day. Thankfully I no longer need to trek to sunny Dalston for my fix as they are available Tuesday’s – Saturday’s at the new Panzer’s coffee bar (shameless plug).  All you North West Londoner’s can thank me for the tip. But you really should visit their new bakery/cafe space in the building opposite their old site. And at lunchtime there is not only the full range of baked delicacies, but their award winning sandwiches, and of course great coffee to boot.

Scissor Heaven

Scissors pose one of the greatest challenges to the left hander: the act of cutting anything in a neat, straight line is virtually impossible. Particularly difficult when I was young, to boost my spirits my Grandmother sent all manner of LH tips from the States. The best? My 6th birthday present: The Natural Superiority of the Left Hander, a book extolling special leftie qualities and illustrations of famous left handers. It did not help much with the cutting dilemma, but it did make me feel better about life. Thankfully, my right hand dexterity improved with age, but my prize stationary possession of the year is my beautiful left handed scissors from Labour and Wait. No more cutting frustration. And in my house, they really are one of the few items that are unarguably mine. Not forgetting all you right handers out there, Labour and Wait stock the finest scissors for you too.

The Art of the Larder

Books that encourage us to be more efficient in the kitchen have a very special place in my heart and on my shelves. Every writer has their own nuggets of information that can transform how you cook or how you eat. Often, the challenge that faces people is an organisational one – mainly in the ingredients department.  But a well stocked (and by that I don’t mean huge) larder or pantry is a your best weapon for throwing a meal together, even when the main stars of the dish are all fresh out of the fridge. Claire Thompson’s latest book The Art of the Larder illustrates how to clearly shop and cook in a discerning and more methodical manner helping to combine larder basics with anything in the fridge. Beautifully laid out with lists of suggestions and tips that you wish someone had shared years ago, this book will encourage less waste and better meals out of your kitchen.

Yogi Tea

To counter the somewhat excessive amount of coffee I consume in the first two thirds of any day, I drink herbal teas. In an almost excessive equal quantity. Despite my clear lack of any yogi qualities at all, my love of the tea comes from the warm crisp spices in every bag, never leaving a bitter or over brewed taste in your mouth.  The flavours are perfectly balanced, and as a result leave you feeling calm and warm, with a wide range of useful and effective blends for digestion and sleep. The ideal companion to cold, dark winter afternoons when the hours of the safe coffee consumption have passed.

 

Upside Down Plum (or Pear) Ginger Cake

Last week was a week of firsts:

My first foray into retail:

Panzer’s Delicatessen re-opened its doors last Thursday morning, newly renovated for the first time since 1944, and it is beautiful. As loyal customer for almost my entire life, it’s been an honour and a pleasure to switch sides and consult with Panzer’s on their new coffee bar and deli. While fewer hours were dedicated to the blog, many days were spent menu planning and sourcing the best artisan bakers London (and beyond) has to offer for my favourite specialist destination delicatessen. Finally, there is great coffee and sourdough available in the neighbourhood, as well as all the old gourmet staples for the loyal Panzer’s customers (like me) on a daily basis. What a thrill it was to serve rather than to buy on those first few days of trading in the new space.

The first BF products for sale (at the Panzer’s coffee bar):

Nestled amongst some of London’s baking great’s, daily specials and seasonal treats, you will find my seed clusters and some BRAND NEW double chocolate cinnamon cookies. so if you are in the neighbourhood, get them while you can. It is a dream come true to share a counter with some of my baking heroes including The Dusty Knuckle, Pump Street Bakery, Bread Ahead, The Good Egg, Karma Bread, and Babelle Caneles, and many more to come over the coming months.

 

My first ride on a forbidden mode of transport:

Onto a lighter, less professional and more rebellious note, the biggest first of the week was hopping on the back of a scooter. Sorry Mum. Growing up I broke just about every household rule apart from this one. But when Jeremy arrived to collect me for our meeting with helmet in hand I knew my time had come. And what a thrill it was riding through Regent’s Park with the wind in my face. I might have to do it again.

So, to celebrate this week of firsts and turning everything on its head, I made Upside Down Ginger Cake, an old favourite from one of the many recipe scrapbooks started all those years ago before the internet. With all the newness of the week I was craving something familiar. As it’s from the years before I wrote about food and didn’t bother to reference sources, I actually don’t know exactly where the original recipe came from. The font and paper look like Donna Hay (but don’t hold me to that). Rest assured, I have altered the method, tinkered with the ingredients and flavour and I personally prefer it best with plums rather than pears (as the original states), and I happily devour it in any form.

 

Upside Down Plum (or Pear) and Ginger Cake

Warmly spiced and comforting, this is not a traditionally dark molasses-y cake, it is a light moist golden syrupy buttery nostalgic cake, delicious topped (or bottomed) with just about any autumnal fruit of choice. And it is simple as pie to make as you can just whip it up in a bowl with a spoon. No mixer required. Win win.

It works just as well with plums, apples or pears. Plums are in the ingredients list, but the note at the bottom will give you the quantities of apples or pears if you prefer.

 

125g (4oz.) unsalted butter

350g (1 cup) golden syrup

175g (1 cup) soft brown sugar

180ml (3/4 cup) whole milk

250g (1 2/3 cups) plain flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 good size ripe plums, sliced in to 12 pieces

(if you only have small plums available, use 8-10 and slice them into 8 pieces each. You don’t want the slices to be too thin)

 

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F)

Butter and line a 22cm (9 inch) springform pan with baking parchment

In a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, golden syrup, sugar and milk and stir until it is all melted together and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes

In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients and set aside.

While the butter/sugar mixture is cooling, slice the plums and arrange on the bottom of your baking tin. Feel free to be creative here and lay them out in any pattern of your choice, or simply scatter them in one layer.

When the warm butter mixture has cooled slightly, add the egg and vanilla extract and stir. Then carefully mix in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula until it is fully combined and no lumps remain.

Pour the batter over the fruit and bang the pan once on the worktop to level everything out before putting it in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake has started to pull away from the edge of the tin.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then cool completely before turning upside down onto a serving plate.

 

Note: If you want to use apples or pears for this cake, I prefer Williams pears or a tart apple varietiy. Depending on their size, you should need 4, peeled, and sliced about 1cm thick (not too thin, not too thick if you really want to be technical…). This also works well with fresh cranberries (approximately 150g), although you might want to toss them with a little extra brown sugar and some orange zest before pouring them into the bottom of the pan.