Salmon with Ratatouille and Sweet Potato Mash

salmon fillet with ratatouille and sweet potato mashOh man. Bookkeeping. Running your own freelance business does have it’s down sides. But amazingly after travelling along a floor of invoices and receipts and living in what clearly appeared to be a really specific Level Of Hell (floor 14 perhaps) I’ve discovered that for the past six months my books totally balance out and everything is pretty healthy looking in the expenses department. Huh. Mazing.

I’m a very particular type of stress cooker, and this was making a lot of appearances for the last couple of nights at around midnight and it’s pretty tasty so I thought I’d share. It’s for one, but you can easily double this.

Salmon with Ratatouille and Sweet Potato Mash:
1 salmon fillet
1 sweet potato - peeled and chopped
round courgette - sliced irregularly
1 red sweet pointed pepper
handful of cherry tomatoes - halved
glug of red wine
2 tbsp olive oil
splash of milk - I went rice milk
1 bay  leaf
1 garlic clove - crushed
1 small chilli - deseeded and finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato purée
pinch of oregano
pinch of rosemary
pinch of paprika
sea salt flakes
crushed black pepper

You’ll want to make you ratatouille first. I’ve suggested that you cut your courgette ‘irregularly’ because I have a weird aversion to perfectly square bits of courgette and I think the odd angles you cut in produce a nicer bite. So that’s your courgette. Slice your pepper however the hell you like.

1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pot on medium heat, to this add your crushed garlic, sliced chilli, bay leaf, oregano, rosemary and paprika. Then when all the spices start smelling lovely add your courgette, tomato and pepper. The eagle-eyed of you will notice there are no onions or aubergines in this dish. You can of course add these if you want, I simply didn’t have any at home. Add your glug of wine. Cover and stew while you deal with the mash. Keep an eye on this, you don’t want it to burn. Maybe add water or stock if it’s drying out too much.

To a pot of slightly salted boiling water, add the sweet potato and let that get nice soft. When it’s soft enough to mash with a fork (or mash-up with the mash attachment on your hand blender…what an awesome buy) drain and mash away. Season with some salt and pepper, and add a splash of milk or butter maybe. Keep warm and set aside.

Now cook your salmon fillet. Frying pan on the stove, high heat, tablespoon of olive oil in and wait for the oil to get really nice and hot before you put your fillet in skin side down. Fry for 2-3 mins, then cook the sides for about a minute each. Finally turn it over and cook the base of the fillet for a minute, switch your fire off and season the fish with a bit of sea salt and crushed black pepper. Prep your plate and dish up. That time it took for you to dress your plate should mean your fish is just cooked.

Rhubarb Crumble with Ginger (and possibly Greengages) as well as Real Custard

Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble

Rhubarb! Yay! Let’s make a crumble. I also very recently learned that rhubarb is used in traditional Chinese medicine, so it feels like the ginger pairing is rather fortuitous now. But lets face it, I had ginger wine in the house and that stuff is like alcoholic nectar of which I only put the fresh ginger in to enhance the booze! So…I’m not sure how overall healthy or medicinal the following dish is, but it is very satisfying to eat, and I even had some for breakfast the following day with cold custard. Not. Even. Guilty.

It’s at this point that I should also mention that I *think* I added some greengage plums to this dish, which was a totally amazing addition as the fruit really held shape and added a lovely bite to the overall dish. But I cannot of yet totally confirm this so I’ll have to come back to this post and edit it later if I ever find out whatever the hell plum-like things I actually did add to this.

Rhubarb filling for crumble:
400 g rhubarb - prepped weight
100 g greengage plums (possibly) - stoned and quartered
3 tbsp ginger wine - generous servings
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger with it's juices
100 g soft light brown sugar

Chop your rhubarb into long 10 cm by 1 cm sticks. Get all the above into a pot and simmer it all at low heat for around 15 minutes. You don’t want your rhubarb too soft. Once that’s done, you’ll probably have a bit too much thin liquid for a nice compote sauce, so sieve the fruit out and rest it in your oven proof dish while you crank the heat up in the pot and boil those fruit and sugar juices into a lovely thicker consistency. Pour this over your fruit and get your oven to 200°C. Move onto the crumble topping.

Crumble topping:
140 g self raising flour
85 g butter - chilled, cut in cubes
50 g soft light brown sugar
50 g walnuts - roughly chopped

With all of these ingredients in a glass bowl, you’ll want to dive in with your fingers and bring it together like course breadcrumbs. Don’t over mix and be too neat and tidy, the rougher the better. In fact. Go with *just* combined with larger odder shapes scattered through. The chopped walnut bits will help with this. Sprinkle this over your fruit mixture and whack it in the oven until the toppings golden brown and the fruit mix is bubbling to the surface a bit. 15-20 minutes maybe?

While that’s going on, lets make some actual proper custard too. This is Mary Berry’s recipe, and honestly, why would I want to change it? It’s pretty perfect. The only thing I did at the end was crank up the heat slightly and whisked it in a glass bowl before serving because I thought it was starting to split. Balloon whisks – kitchen lifesavers.

Mary Berry's "Real Proper Custard":
568 ml whole milk
55 ml single cream
1 vanilla pod - split lengthways
4 egg yolks
40 caster sugar
3 tsp cornflour - level measurements

Get a small pot on the stove and heat you milk, cream and vanilla pod at low heat. You don’t want it to boil.

In a separate bowl, mix up your egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until well blended.

Remove the vanilla pod (then wash and leave it to dry, put it in some sugar: vanilla sugar! Yay for Mary), and slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture – whisking all the time. Once it’s all incorporated, pour your custard back into your pot and slowly stir with a wooden spoon until you reach your desired consistency. Pour it all in a jug ready to serve and sit it in a pot of hot water to keep warm. Maybe put some cling film on top to stop a skin forming. Serve it up with your desert (or breakfast for that matter).

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