Sunday, 27 January 2008

In praise of smoked haddock

Phew! I was so busy planning and shopping and cooking yesterday I didn't have time to post. A productive day, though.

First, I managed to restrain my natural instinct to stock up as if it were Christmas when we have friends round. Or rather when the neighbours do. I'm just providing the main course. I decided what it should be in advance (slow roast shoulder of lamb) and stuck to it. A good buy - for organic meat - at £14.82. A similar sized leg of lamb would have been at least £10 more expensive

I also bought two large fillets of smoked haddock from the local fish shop (Fishworks) to experiment with. I haven't cooked it for a while but it lends itself beautifully to leftovers. Which is just as well as it's expensive these days. I paid £12.60 for 850g including a 10% discount which you can get simply by signing up online to their Seafood Club

I cut up the fish and poached it in water. (Just cover with cold water, bring to the boil and skim off any white frothy scum then simmer very slowly for 5 minutes) then removed the fillets, slipped them off their skin and carefully flaked them. (This is the tedious bit. You have to watch like a hawk for bones. The best way is to run your fingers over the fish to make sure you haven't left any behind)

I made a kedgeree with a third of the fish. Found I didn't have any curry powder so spiced it with turmeric, coriander and a pinch of cumin and chilli powder and served it with a cucumber raita.

I folded the next third into a small amount of white sauce which I made from soy milk* as my husband is dairy intolerant. Infused the milk first with half an onion (used the other half in the kedgeree) which gave it a bit more flavour and grated in a bit of parmesan which curiously doesn't seem to upset him. This we can have on toast for supper tonight with more cheese on top like a fishy Welsh rarebit.

With the final third I made a kind of smoked haddock paté/ brandade by blitzing the remaining fish with butter and a little milk, just enough to make it whizz easily in the blender and seasoned it with lemon juice, chilli powder, black pepper and a pinch of mixed spice. (No nutmeg or mace in the cupboard which would have been ideal). That will do for little hand-round toasts with drinks before lunch. So the fish will have stretched to 9 portions which isn't bad.

On the debit side I found some uneaten leftovers lurking in the fridge which I should have checked before I went out shopping, including some thawed frozen raspberries I was going to use for a pudding and never got round to. Hadn't fortunately gone mouldy so I simmered them up into a fruit compote which we can have with yoghurt for breakfast. There was also the best part of a bunch of celery (shall braise that to go with the lamb), some leftover puff pastry (could be used as lids for the creamy smoked haddock - an instant pie) and some sprouting seeds. (They're gone I'm afraid. Would be cheaper to sprout your own)

There's also a very elderly loaf which is possibly rescuable for breadcrumbs if I remove all the crusts, cut into cubes and whizz up in the blender (can then be frozen) and some very heavy spelt bread which I can't for the life of me think how to use. Heavy ethical issue here - should you chuck away food you don't like?

Blimey! It's hard work this frugal eating.

* Incidentally it's much cheaper to buy soy milk off the shelf than in the chill section. Saved about 30p there.

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