Monday, 1 January 2018
Gluten free potato blini and salmon cured in gin
Jay Rayner always makes me chuckle. Christmas edition of Observer Food Monthly had another funny editorial written by him. In it he gives us 10 Christmas food commandments.
Commandment no.1 from Jay says "Thou shalt not mistake Nigella, Mary and Jamie for the Lord, thy God. Those Christmas specials are only TV programmes. They're entertainment, not a blueprint for how your Christmas is meant to be. Yours won't be anything like that because you don't have battalions of home economists to knock up the food and set designers to decorate the house. Even Nigella's won't be like that".
And how true is that. This rule should apply to all dinners we host. And if the only paper napkins I could find at Easter are Christmas-themed because I bought five packs on offer after Christmas, kind friends won't judge me on that (or if they do, they won't tell me).
We had a wonderful dinner last night with our close friends, two of their children go to school with Sash, and one of their boys is in the same school as Eddie, only a year older.
Cooking is one of pleasures of life for me, a creative outlet and more than a hobby. I would say a vocation, though an unpaid one.
I considered preparing a different starter for our new year's eve, as I tend serving blini with home-cured salmon as a starter frequently, but then I thought that this is one of my favourite starters. It looks festive and tastes great. I did tweak both recipes though.
As one of our friends is a coeliac, I cook all dishes gluten free when they come for dinner. Last year I also cooked gluten free blini, but this time I added some mashed potatoes to the recipe, and the little pancakes turned out to be very fluffy and thick. Everyone seemed to enjoy them, including my fussy boys.
Gluten free potato blini (makes 18+ blini)
1 potato (100g)
2 medium eggs
250g gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm gluten free flour)
1tsp baking powder
2tbsp melted butter + more butter for frying
First cook a potato in skin in salted boiling water. Once cooked, let it cool, peel off the skin and mash the potato with a fork. Beat in two eggs, add milk and water, and mix well. Sift in the flour and baking powder, add melted butter and season with sea salt until you get thick smooth batter.
Place the pancake pan (with four cups) over medium heat, add a small amount of butter or cooking spray. The pan should be hot but not smoking, or the blini will be quickly burnt.
Pour a tablespoon of pancake batter in each cup. Cook for about 3 minutes on one side, then carefully flip over each pancake with a knife, and cook for another minute or two, until golden.
These blini make a great base for all sorts of toppings. Smoked salmon is wonderful on blini. Serve with a ready-made smoked salmon or make your own a day in advance, pickles, lemon slices, soured cream with dill, or whatever topping you fancy.
Salmon cured in gin
340g salmon fillet
100g sea salt, flakes
100g caster sugar
1/2tsp caraway seeds
1tbsp juniper berries, crushed
100ml gin, unflavoured (or vodka)
1. Lay the salmon in a deep baking dish lined with a big piece of cling film.
2. Add the salt, sugar, caraway seeds and crushed juniper to a small bowl and mix well.
3. Press the salt and seeds mix evenly all over both sides of the salmon. Pour gin or vodka over it.
4. Wrap the salmon in cling film carefully, trying to contain all liquid inside the film. Place another smaller dish on top and weigh down with some heavy tins.
Place in the fridge for 24+ hours.
5. To serve, unwrap the cling film and rinse off the salt in cold water. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Slice the salmon thinly and place on a serving plate with crayfish tails (optional).
I use two heavy ceramic baking dishes for preparing the fish, one smaller size goes on top.
If you want to add colour, grate a raw peeled beetroot into the salt mix.
You will surely wow your guests with such a delicious starter.