Saturday, June 09, 2007

Salmon en Croute with Orange and Spinach

On Friday I went for supper with a friend who is moving to Jersey later this month where she and her boyfriend plan to open a great pub. I shall miss them for various reasons, but one is that she is the most superb cook and an invitation to supper cooked by her is always one of the most welcome. She pulls out all the stops and no matter what she cooks up, it is always delicious (and always accompanied by great wine - like me they both currently work in the wine trade).

Friday was no exception. We started with Bollinger Champagne and quails eggs with celery salt. Perfectly cooked and, I might add, expertly peeled by what can only be her very patient (or very long-suffering) boyfriend. There is, I am afraid, no way you will find me peeling quails eggs to serve for nibbles - I am sorry to say that I leave this activity to my guests. But how lovely it was to enjoy them ready peeled. I felt like Lady Muck.

To start, we had pan-fried chicken livers which had been coated in a little flour spiked with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Served with fried onions and a little mint raita, they were extremely good. They prompted a discussion on offal (most present confessed to not being huge fans but were converted on trying these melt-in-the-mouth offerings). Apparently lots of offal will be on the menu in the Jersey pub and the landlady will be forcing people to try it! I am not certain how successful she will be, but she is certainly not one to argue with and if those chicken livers are anything to go by, then I am sure she will convert many. She tried to convince us that duck hearts on toast was an excellent breakfast... Can't say I'm totally convinced, but I'll be sure to order the 'full English' when I visit her pub and sample the hearts if included!

Next we had a wonderful Salmon en Croute. The salmon (preferably wild or organic) had been marinated in orange juice and then two fillets sandwiched together with spinach, orange rind and cream cheese. Sandwich them together with the thin side against the fat side of the other, so that you form a roughly rectangular shape. Wrap in ready-made puff pastry (life is too short, is it not?), decorate with left over bits and brush with egg or milk. This was a huge one, so it cooked happily in a medium oven for an hour. The pastry case keeps the fish beautifully moist.

With this we drank a delicious Vacheron Sancerre and a superb Meursault, 2000 from Drouhin. I think it would be excellent with a full-flavoured rose too.

For pudding, one of my favourites. Rice pudding. I adore all of those nursery-type puddings. This one was satisfyingly solid yet creamy with a wonderful nutmeg flavour and was accompanied by plums stewed with Marsala, the juice thickened with a little arrowroot. A thoroughly grown-up take on the dish.

I must conclude by complimenting the soon-to-be landlord's home-made bread. He has hidden talents, it seems. I look forward to dining in the Jersey pub and wish them every success - if Friday is anyting to go by, they are sure to do well!

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