Fishmas – December Fish tasting Menu


Over the past year and a half, I’ve been testing dishes out at supper clubs with a view to assembling a series of themed tasting menus. I’m delighted to announce that the first of these menus has finally been written, and will be making it’s debut next month.

Smoke and Thyme: Fishmas 2015:

6 Lobster Tortelini

A seven-course tasting menu of the best fish and seafood dishes from 2015. Including such favourites as beetroot cured salmon , Thai crab cakes and lobster tortellini, with optional matching wines. Served in an intimate 12 seat conservatory setting in East Oxford.

18th and 19th December.

Merry Fishmas!

Tickets are £30+ booking fee, wine pairing menu is an additional £22 or BYO for £7 corkage.  Ginger Squid salad

Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite through the links be
low.

Please pick your date:
Friday 18th December
Saturday 19th December

 

The Menu:

  1. Trio of cold fish starters (Beetroot cured salmon, harissa anchovies, octopus salad)1 Trio of fish starters
  2. Thai crabcakes2 Thai crabcakes
  3. Green curry soup with mussels3 Thai Green Curry Soup with Mussels
  4. Soft roes on toast4 Soft Roes on Toast with Sherry Cream
  5. Rainbow trout with courgette ribbons and chimmichurri5 Rainbow Trout and Chimmichurri
  6. Lobster tortelini6 Lobster Tortelini
  7. Sea salt caramel ice cream7 Sea Salt Caramel ice cream

August Supper Club Date and Menu

New Supper Club Date: Saturday August 8th, at 205 Divinity Road, Oxford.  Book here. New dates to be added as demand requires – stay tuned.

Although I’ve only had one (very necessary) month off from doing a supper club, it already feels like I’ve been away for far too long. Which has only inspired me to go for broke this time. The menu:


Starter
:
Fish tasting platter
A selection of fish themed dishes and accompaniments including beetroot cured salmon.

Salmon beetroot and orange zest cure
Mains:
Ratatouille confit byaldi with gnocchiRatatouille cooked dish

then

Lamb cutlets with baba ganoush,
(Vegetarian: beetroot tart tatin)

Baba Ganoush and Peppers wood

Dessert:
White peaches and white chocolate

Plus a couple of special extras, to be selected from the six or seven I have in mind.

Crabcakes and Asparagus Ice Cream

Crabcakes

This is an update and review of a dish from my April Supper Club, held on the 17th. The next supper club date is Saturday the 9th of May. To attend, please email me at smokeandthyme@gmail.com, letting me know how many guests you’d like to bring, a contact phone number and any special dietary requirements I need to be aware of. The menu changes every month and the price is pay-what-you-want.
Lemongrass, coconut, coriander, green chilli. Fish sauce, ginger, soy. My Thai soup with mussels demanded a perfectly smooth sauce, which meant sieving out a heartbreaking amount of immensely flavoursome but slightly stringy pulp from my green curry sauce. Not until after I’d thrown the first batch of it away did I get the tip from a friend that this lumpy by-catch could be mixed with mashed potato and cooked crab for a fantastic green curry crabcake.

With cauliflower still in season and my previous pairing of it with seafood  in mind, I wanted to test out a non-potato binding for another type of crabcake. Adding cayenne and paprika and sumac gave the mixture a dark, red-brownish colour, and unable to pick a favourite between the green Thai or the red cauliflower crabcakes, I decided the colour contrast would justify putting both on the plate.

Asparagus ice cream

As with so many weird food trends, the blame for savoury ice cream lies with Heston Blumenthal and his infamous bacon and egg flavour frozen treat. Much as I adore Heston’s cuisine however, challenging my diners’ preconceptions isn’t usually my main goal. I was concerned that asparagus ice cream in a starter would be too much like a gimmick – like I’m trying to make a point of doing something wacky. So I was delighted when my guests recognised it for being just a really nice (if slightly unusual) combination of flavours, textures and temperatures.

The cream melting over the deep-fried crabcakes is like any cream sauce on seafood, except for being cold, which cuts through the spiciness of the crabcakes. Asparagus, especially when paired with salty samphire, is perfect with crustaceans or anything else from the sea. Sadly at this point we run into my mistake – not nearly enough asparagus flavour to the ice cream. So pungent when boiled or steamed, asparagus’ water-soluble flavour molecules are not taken up so well by fats and oils, and the cold seems to lock them away as well. The temperature and textural contrast of the ice cream worked great, but against the bold, spicy flavours of the crabcakes the asparagus flavour was much too mild.

Verdict

Ultimately, though I liked the taste of the spiced cauliflower crabcakes, I found it too hard to explain what they’re all about to want to serve them again. The thing I liked best was that they provided an alternative to the stodgy, flavour-absorbing mashed potato of a typical fishcake. The Thai green curry ones on the other hand were both delicious and well defined. My next experiment will be to use the same flavours but with a crab risotto (instead of mashed potato) to bind them, and a tempura batter rather than breadcrumbs. The asparagus ice cream will be back, bigger and stronger, and other savoury ices may make their way onto my non-dessert courses in the future.

April Supper Club: Offishial Menu

IMG_0575

 

A little delayed by Easter but here it is: The April Supper Club – Seafood Edition. This Friday (April 17th), 7.30pm, at The Church Farmhouse in Holton. Email smokeandthyme@gmail.com to make a reservation.

Lets check out the menu:

Canapes:

  • Vegetarian nigiri
Starter:
  • Crabcakes with asparagus ice cream and samphire salad
Main:
  • Salmon with saag aloo (pictured above)
Dessert:
  • Five-layered white chocolate cake

For those of you who haven’t been before, these supper clubs are my opportunity to get feedback on the new dishes I’m developing. There’s no fixed menu and no fixed price – you get to try some brand new dishes, tell me what you think of them, and at the end of the evening, you pay whatever you think the night was worth. To learn more about the supper clubs I run check out the supper club page

Salmon and Saag Aloo

Salmon and Saag Aloo

It started with a fish.

I’d been looking for sea bass, but the sea bass were looking a bit fishy. My eye drifted over to the salmon, and I was hooked.IMG_0477

I came up with a plan:
Buy a whole salmon, fillet it myself. Preserve one side with a beetroot-cure and cook the other side for dinner tonight with nothing but a little salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon and maybe a bay leaf in the pan – just crispy skin and the essential flavours of the salmon.

But what did I want to serve it with?

A bowl of hot, buttery, new season potatoes, crushed by a fork and sprinkled with grassy chives and flakes of sea salt? Or a nest of wilted spinach – a bitter, dark-green, iron-y tang against the sweet, rich, blushing pink flesh of the salmon?

The answer obviously was both, but as soon as those two ingredients were in my head, my thoughts went to saag aloo. Melding spinach and potatoes with Indian flavours is the best thing I can think to do with either of those ingredients, let alone both, so I was sure it would be the perfect complement to the salmon.

IMG_0545

And it is.
Against a plainer accompaniment salmon can dominate a plate, but faced with the bold and spicy saag aloo it reveals the more delicate side of its fishy nature. At the last minute, I decided to add a vegetable fritter, which backed up the crispy salmon skin beautifully and brought the whole dish together.

IMG_0575

Salmon and Saag Aloo

Continue reading “Salmon and Saag Aloo”

Beetroot-Cured Salmon

Salmon beetroot and orange zest cure

I never believed in love at first sight until this recipe. Call me shallow if you like, but I fell for the colours in this fish even before I had my first bite.

Salmon fan

Of course, colour is much more than just skin deep in this dish. I’m not just talking about how the beetroot cure seeping slowly into the flesh of the salmon leaves every opalescent slice with a crimson aura that fades into the salmon pink like a sunset over the sea. No – almost every ingredient in that we add to this salmon is marked by its relationship to a colour. The beetroot, infamous for its vibrant stain, is matched with zest of an orange – the fruit that takes such bold pride in its hue that they named the shade after it. The cure -BROWN sugar, BLACK peppercorns. (The dill, fresh and bright and grass-green though it may be, may be the exception that proves the rule). All of which makes pairing this salmon with inky caviar or slices of forest-green avocado almost irresistibly beautiful, combining the taste and appearance of a rainbow to the very idea of one.

Salmon beetroot and orange zest cure box

But there’s wisdom behind this beauty as well. The classic pairing of smoke and cured salmon is adored for its peaty darkness –  the earthy, fruity flavour of the beetroot combines to similar effect. The orange provides the indispensable citric squeeze for the salmon. Orange and beetroot also play surprisingly well off each other. There’s a famous dish-come-playful study in colour by Heston Blumenthal. He serves “Beetroot and Orange Jelly” with the mischievous recommendation to “eat the orange one first”. The orange one, of course, tastes of beetroot and the beetroot-red one tastes of oranges.

Salmon plated

This beetroot-cured salmon does not aim to confuse though, only to delight. A riot of colour both on the plate and behind the scenes. The first bite is with the eyes, but a whole feast that lies beyond that. It’s something special, any way that you slice it.

Continue reading “Beetroot-Cured Salmon”