The Friday 5 #3
Welcome back to the Friday 5 and hello to all our new subscribers. Lovely to see you here.
This week’s round up includes a sexy Portuguese fish dish, a bargainous Portuguese white wine, a fabulously retro snack, a caffeine-free nightcap and a kitchen gadget to help you channel your inner Nigella.
A fish pie that’s not a fish pie
If you fancy a fish pie this Good Friday here’s something I know you’re going to enjoy. Actually it’s not a pie as such as the potato is buried in the filling along with the fish like a sort of fishy gratin dauphinoise. It’s based on a Portuguese recipe I had in Porto a few years ago called Bacalhau com Natas (salt cod with cream) and having made it again this week I’m all over it.
At this late notice you might fairly point out getting your hands on some salt cod might be a problem but you can always salt it yourself. There’s a ten minute method here.
The recipe I used was this one from a website called We Travel Portugal which I tweaked a bit, not fancying the mozzarella or quite as much cream (yup, uncharacteristic, I know). You can find my version below.
The Portuguese white wine you need to know about
Actually there are two. The one I was thinking about drinking with this dish was a white wine from the Douro, better known for its reds. They’re made - like most Portuguese wines from massively obscure grape varieties and are rich and full-flavoured - a bit like an oaked white rioja. Sainsbury’s has a really well priced one which you can buy for £7.50 until tomorrow (April 15th) if you take advantage of their current 25% discount on six bottles.
The other wine is alvarinho, Portugal’s answer to albarino which is brighter and crisper and better suited to fresh seafood like crab or prawns. Again Sainsbury’s has one which is on offer at £6.75 (plus the 25% discount if you buy any six.)
Bring back devilled eggs!
I’m guessing you’ve got your Easter eggs by now - if you haven’t dash out and buy one NOW before the shelves are cleared out - but in the meantime why not rustle up a batch of devilled eggs? They seem to go for them more in the states than we do here but they’re an easy, pretty starter and a moreish snack. I totally LOVE this presentation (by Marie Sonmez Photography on purpose-made devilled egg serving dishes. I think we all need one of those. Here’s my recipe if you want to give them a whirl.
The perfect caffeine-free nightcap
If you’ve spent any time in France you’ll know that you often get offered verveine aka lemon verbena at the end of a meal. Like mint it’s not great dried but the fresh leaves have the most fabulously refreshing lemony flavour. If you haven’t got a plant do buy one for the summer if you’re stocking up with herbs this weekend. Most garden centres will have them or you can buy them online. (Photo © STUDIO GRAND WEB.)
Invest in a mezzaluna
I was asked by one of my subscribers whether it was worth getting one. Couldn’t you just use a knife? Yes, you can obviously but there’s something quite soothing and satisfying about rocking it to and fro and it’s a really quick and efficient way to chop herbs (except for chives which you’re better to snip with a pair of scissors). There’s a good selection in Divertimenti and of course on the dreaded Amazon. I quite like this double-bladed one. (Picture © Alexander Raths at shutterstock.com)
Have a great Easter, all. See ya next week
My version of We Travel Portugal’s salt cod with cream
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
400g salt cod soaked for 6 hours, changing the water regularly. or quick cured as in this recipe
Extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
400g potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
100ml double cream
20g parmesan cheese, grated.
Salt and pepper to taste
If you’re using bought salted cod you’ve soaked, rinse and drain it, put it in a saucepan, cover it with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the fish, reserving a cup of the water. If you’re using the quick method follow the instructions here.
Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and fry the onions and garlic over a low heat for about 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally until lightly browned. Add the butter to the onions stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes then stir in the milk and bring up to simmering point. Add the bayleaf and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes then stir in the cream.
If you’ve followed the quick cure method flour the fish and fry it briefly on either side. Flake the fish removing any bones and add to the sauce. Check the seasoning adding salt if you think it needs it and a splash of the fish cooking water if it’s too thick.
Heat the oven to 200°C/170°C fan
Pour a couple of centimetres of olive oil in another large frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the cubed potato until just tender and lightly browned. Drain on kitchen paper then add to the fish and onions.
Tip the mixture into a medium-sized baking dish sprinkle generously with parmesan and bake for 20-25 minutes until brown and bubbling. Cool for 10 minutes before serving with a green salad.