COLD STARTERS

 

 

 

See also RED PEPPERS WITH ANCHOVY on the hot starters page, as it is good served cold as well as warm.

GREEN BEAN AND MOZZARELLA SALAD and AVOCADO AND SWEETCORN SALAD on the salads page also make excellent starters.

 


POTTED SALMON (for 2-3)

A good way to use up salmon leftovers. It will keep for some days in the fridge.

4 oz/150gr cooked salmon
2-3 anchovy fillets
3 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
salt, pepper, pinch of ground mace, chopped chives

Remove any skin and bones from the salmon. Pound or process it with 2 tbsp of the butter, the anchovy and mace until smooth. Add the chives and salt and pepper to taste (the anchovies will make it pretty salty). Pour into small pots or ramekins and smooth the surface. Melt the rest of the butter and pour over the top to seal. Refrigerate for several hours. Serve with toast.

 

 

SMOKED MACKEREL PATÉ (for 2-3)

2 smoked mackerel fillets

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon good quality horseradish sauce

Pepper; snipped chives (optional)

Remove the skin and any bones from the mackerel fillets. Break into pieces, put into a bowl and mash well with a fork. Stir in the other ingredients. (It can be processed to a finer paste, but the roughness of hand-mashing gives it a more interesting texture.) Serve with toast.

 

TARAMOSALATA (for 2-4)

 

This has a higher roe factor and a fishier taste than the average commercial taramosalata. Do not use your best extra virgin olive oil; it will be too heavy.

 

100-150gr smoked cod’s roe

1 slice white bread (about 30-50 gr)

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, peeled

5 tablespoons light olive oil (or a mixture of olive and sunflower oils)

 

Peel the skin off the roe (a fiddly job). Remove any hard crusts from the bread, soak it in cold water and then squeeze out the water. Put the roe and bread in a food-processor together with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the garlic pressed through a garlic squeezer (otherwise it will stay in lumps). Process until fairly smooth. Add the oil gradually and then one tablespoon water, together with extra lemon juice to taste if desired.

 



SALMON TARTARE

Here are two recipes, one based roughly on the classic French boef tartare and the other with a Japanese flavour.

Salmon Tartare à la francaise

150-200gr salmon fillet, skinned and carefully boned
1 teaspoon capers, chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped gherkins, or a few extra capers
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon French mustard
1 teaspoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon light olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 teaspoon very finely chopped parsley
Salt, pepper

Chop the salmon into very small pieces (this must be done by hand, as it becomes a slush if done in a food processor). Mix in all the other ingredients, adjusting quantities to suit your taste. Serve with toast.

 

Salmon tartare à la japonaise (for 2)

 

150-200gr salmon fillet, skinned and carefully boned

1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots

1½ teaspoons finely chopped Japanese pickled ginger

½ teaspoon wasabi mustard (or more to taste)

1 dessertspoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon finely chopped chives

Salt

 

Chop the salmon into very small pieces. Mix in all the other ingredients. Serve with toast.



GRAVADLAX (about 8 servings)

2 ½ lb/1.2kg salmon in one piece (a cross-section, not a fillet – a tailpiece is good)
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 large bunch dill, chopped
Pepper

Fillet the salmon or ask the fishmonger to do so, and remove any remaining bones. Take a dish into which the two pieces of salmon, laid on top of each other, will just fit. Sprinkle one third of the dill over the bottom. Place one salmon fillet, skin side down, on the dill, and rub half the salt and sugar into the salmon flesh, together with a little pepper. Sprinkle over a further third of the dill. Rub the remaining salt and sugar and some pepper into the flesh of the other fillet, and place it skin side up on top of the first fillet (i.e. reconstituting the salmon). Sprinkle over the remaining dill. Cover with foil and put weights on top. Keep in the fridge for 2-5 days, turning after a day and a half. When required, remove from the fridge, scrape off the dill and carve like smoked salmon. A good sauce: Mix together 1 tablespoon French mustard and ½ teaspoon castor sugar in a bowl and then gradually add 2-3 tablespoons of light vegetable oil (e.g. sunflower, groundnut), stirring as if making a mayonnaise. A little chopped dill can also be stirred into the sauce.




AVOCADO AND SMOKED SALMON SALAD (for 2)

150gr smoked salmon
2 ripe avocadoes (buy unripe and let ripen)
1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons light olive, sunflower or groundnut oil
½ teaspoon French mustard
½ teaspoon caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Peel and stone avocadoes and cut each into about 6 slices. Arrange slices of smoked salmon on the plates and put the avocado slices on top or beside. Make dressing with the remaining ingredients (this can be done in advance) and pour it over the avocado. An alternative dressing can be made by mixing together 2 large tablespoons of sour cream, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 heaped teaspoon of grain mustard, ½ teaspoon of castor sugar; and a little milk to achieve the consistency of a thin cream.




LENTIL AND SMOKED SALMON SALAD (for 4-6)

This is also a good light summer main course for 2-3 people

4 oz/100gr Puy or similar lentils (Puy are best)
150-200gr smoked salmon
1-2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1-2 tablespoons walnut or hazelnut oil
1-2 tablespoons sunflower or groundnut oil
1 dessertspoon good balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper, chopped parsley

Cover the lentils generously with water; add a bayleaf; and cook with until just tender (15-20 minutes for Puy lentils). Drain, remove the bay-leaf and add the shallot and garlic. Then dress immediately with the oils, vinegar, salt and pepper, mixing thoroughly. Leave to cool a bit (it is best served lukewarm, but is also good cold). Remove the garlic clove, mix in some chopped parsley and distribute the lentils onto individual serving plates. Arrange the smoked salmon beside the lentils.




PICKLED HERRING SALAD (for 2)

A version of this used to be a common hors d’oeuvre in bistros in France.

2 mild pickled herring fillets (e.g. dill-pickled)
1 eating apple (e.g. Cox)
2 tablespoons soured cream or crème fraiche

parsley or chives to decorate

Cut the pickled herring into 2 cm slices. Peel and core the apple and cut into pieces of a similar size. Mix both together with the sour cream or crème fraiche and sprinkle with some chopped parsley or chives. Serve perhaps with some hot new potatoes on the side.




MARINATED HERRING (for 4)

2 large herrings, filleted and skinned
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
half a lemon, thinly sliced
2 bay-leaves, torn into pieces
½ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 fluid oz/120ml olive oil
salt

Put the herring fillets and other dry ingredients in layers into a dish in which the herring fits snugly. Pour over the olive oil. Cover with cling film or a close-fitting lid and refrigerate for 1-2 days. Remove from fridge one hour before serving to bring to room temperature. Scrape off the herbs etc and serve with buttered toast.

Warning: raw herring flesh can be contaminated with invisible nematode worms from the fish’s gut. These can cause stomach problems – problems quite common in Japan, where an enormous amount of raw fish is consumed. Nematodes can be eliminated by freezing the herring and keeping it frozen for at least 24 hours at -20° centigrade before eating (this is the standard set by the relevant EU directive that applies for instance to Dutch matjes herrings which are cured by light salting; evidence suggests, however, that a temperature of -17° centigrade, achievable by a good four star domestic freezer, is adequate).




SCRAMBLED EGG WITH LUMPFISH ROE OR SALMON CAVIAR(for 2)

An extremely quick and easy first course.

2 large eggs
2 tablespoons black lumpfish roe or salmon caviar
olive oil, salt, pepper; snipped chives

Beat the eggs well and strain them into a basin to remove the stringy bits. Add pepper and a very little salt and some chopped chives. Lightly scramble with one tablespoon of olive oil. When the eggs are creamy, remove from the heat and add another dash of olive oil to stop the cooking. Distribute between two small ramekins. When lukewarm or cool, spoon a tablespoon of lumpfish roe or salmon caviar over the top of each ramekin. Can be served either lukewarm or cold. Eat with small spoons.




TUSCAN CHOPPED LIVER (for 2)

This is a Tuscan-style version of the Jewish dish. The relative quantities of egg and chicken liver can be varied according to what you have available.

1-2 eggs
2 chicken livers
1 dessertspoon finely chopped shallots
chives, basil, parsley
salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic (optional)

Boil the eggs for 8-9 minutes. Cut the livers into several pieces, removing any stringy or green bits, and fry in some olive oil until cooked. Pour the oil in the pan into a small bowl. Finely chop the eggs and chicken livers and add to the oil. Then mix in the shallot, salt and pepper and a teaspoon each of finely chopped chives, parsley and basil. A small clove of garlic, extremely finely chopped or minced in a garlic squeezer, can also be added if desired. If necessary, add some more olive oil to bind it a little (although it will always be a bit crumbly). Can be served either warm or cold, on or with toast.




TSATSIKI (for 4)

1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
200-300gr Greek or Greek-style yoghurt
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed, or squeezed through a garlic squeezer (if you like it more garlicky)
olive oil, salt, pepper

Sprinkle salt on the cucumber and drain in a colander for 20 minutes. Rinse it well and dry or squeeze it out with your hands. Combine cucumber, mint, yoghurt and pepper in a bowl, and gradually add 3-4 tbsp good olive oil as if making mayonnaise.

 

ZUCCHINI AND BUFALA SALAD  (for 2)

A recipe from the River Café

1 small (100-150gr) mozzarella bufalà

4 slices Parma ham

small handful rocket

1 small courgette

8-10 mint leaves

good olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice

 

“Peel” the courgette with a potato peeler until it is in ribbons. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slice the mozzarella and arrange on two plates with the ham. Toss the courgette with the rocket and mint leaves and divide between the plates.




BRAIN SALAD (for 4)

A recipe from France.

1 ox brain or 2-4 sheep brains
Vinaigrette made with mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives or spring onions
3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
Salt, pepper, bouquet garni

Soak the brains for at least an hour, and remove as much as possible of the bloody membrane around them. Poach gently for 15-20 minutes in salted water that you have first brought to the boil with the bouquet garni. While the brains are still warm, slice and arrange on plates. Make a vinaigrette with olive oil, wine vinegar, French mustard and salt, and pour it over the brains. Sprinkle the herbs and celery on top and add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Serve warm or cold.




MARMITE STRAWS

Marmite
Puff pastry
Strong cheddar or parmesan, grated

Roll out a thin sheet of puff pastry. Dilute a little marmite in some water so that it is syrupy. Brush over the pastry. Sprinkle over some cheese and press down lightly. Put in the fridge for half an hour (or into the freezer for a few minutes). Cut into straws and bake on a baking-sheet in the oven, pre-heated to 220° C/gas mark 6-7 for 10 minutes.

 

 

SPICED NUTS (for 8-10 as nibbles)

 

500-600gr mixed unsalted unroasted nuts (two or more of the following: blanched almonds, cashews,

   pecans,  macadamias)

2-3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons light moscavado sugar

1-2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

2 teaspoons paprika

½ -1 teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne

Salt (about a teaspoon), pepper.

 

Put the almonds, cashews and macadamias (but not the pecans) on a baking tray and bake in an oven preheated to 180°C/gas mark 4 until they are beginning to go golden (4-5 minutes). Toast the cumin and fennel seeds in a dry saucepan until they are going brown and releasing their aroma. Tip into a mortar and grind to a rough powder. Toast the pumpkin seeds in the same pan, tossing frequently until they begin to pop. Heat the olive oil in a large frying-pan and add all the nuts and spices and other ingredients.  Stir well so that the nuts are well coated with oil and spices and continue stirring until the sugar is beginning to caramelise.  Line a baking tray with foil or baking paper. Spread the nuts onto it and put into a low oven (150-160°) for  five minutes. Remove and leave the nuts on the tray for a while to cool before serving. Uneaten nuts can be kept a week or two in a jar.