‘This dish gets right away from the high-tea image and shows how delicious bloaters can be at the beginning of a dinner party’ says Griggers. I wasn’t aware they had that image. These days, I suppose, they have no image at all seeing as they are rarely eaten. Indeed, these had to be ordered, like many of the fish in this book, online at The Fish Society. This is a simple dish and actually probably more suitable as a buffet item… With this recipe, I managed to use up all the fish in my freezer before the move to Houston. Indeed, any recipe after this one will have been done in America. I wonder how successful I will be!?
First prepare three bloaters by removing the skin and removing the fillets. Bloaters are already cooked, but if removing them from the bone is a problem, immerse them in boiling water and leave for a few minutes. Flake the fish or cut it up and put in the centre of a serving dish. Cut up a pound of boiled, waxy potatoes and mix in a vinaigrette. Griggers suggests this one: 5 tablespoons olive oil to one of lemon juice, plus salt, pepper, sugar and a heaped tablespoon of chopped chives. Reserve a tablespoon of it to pour over the fish. Now arrange the potatoes around the fish in an artistic manner and serve.
#252 Bloater and Potato Salad. Not the most exciting meal. The bloaters were very nice, as were the lemony potatoes, but it didn’t feel like a complete course. It would have been much nicer with additional dishes too I think. Could do better, Lady Jane: 5/10
English salad sauce was used as a cheaper alternative to mayonnaise and other similar posh or tricky to make dressings. Nothing to be ashamed about, says Jane, and it comes from Eliza Acton – a cook that pops up again and again in English food, so I assumed it would be some kind of delicious sauce that would be akin to Heinz Salad Cream. In fact Charlotte and I were actually excited at the prospect. We shouldn’t have got excited though as it was pretty crap. However, as a bit of English food history, it is interesting; it’s unbelievable how much our palates have changed. By the way, the sauce is a basic sauce that can (and definitely should) be flavoured with extra ingredients: tomato ketchup, anchovies, or whatever. I went for capers as we were having it with salmon fishcakes.
Sieve two hardboiled egg yolks and stir in one raw yolk and season with salt, white and Cayenne pepper and ¼ teaspoon of sugar along with a teaspoon of water. Gradually mix in ¼ pint of double cream and whisk until thickened. Now flavour with a little lemon juice or a flavoured vinegar. Lastly, add any additional flavourings. Dress the salad with the sauce – don’t forget to slice the leftover egg whites to use in the salad.
#170 English Salad Sauce. Not what I was expecting at all. Quite runny and unsatifying, bland and boring. We made taste okay with the addition of lots of seasoning and a shed-load of capers. Definitely give this a miss, tartar sauce, salad cream or mayonnaise would have been the best thing to have. Oh well, you can’t win them all – 3/10.
FYI: Eliza Acton (1799-1859) was a cook and poet. She was the first person write a cook book for normal folk, anmd was the first to include cooking times and ingredients lists in her recipes. Years later Mrs Beeton based her much more popular book on Acton’s writings. Cheeky!
Another asparagus recipe; there’s two more, but I don’t think I’ll get them done before I go to France at the end of next week. (I’m going on a field trip to St. Auban, just north of Nice.) I bought the ingredients from the excellent fruit and veg stall that’s outside All Saint’s Park on Oxford Road, on the campus of Manchester Metropolitan University. I think a lot of people walk straight past it, thinking it’s some cheapo stall, but it’s certainly not. It sells seasonal produce – including English asparagus – at a very good price. I knew Joff was coming round and I wanted to make something quick and easy, so I thought an asparagus omelette would certainly fit the bill (and it did).
For 3. Start by trimming and cooking a bunch of asparagus as I did for the Asparagus and eggs. Drain them and cut them into thirds. Save some of the best tips for garnish. Keep the rest warm in the oven sprinkled with Gruyere cheese – a tablespoon per person. Make the omelettes using 6 eggs exactly how I did previously when I cooked mushroom omelettes. Add a third of the asparagus and to the centre and serve with a nice salad.
Make a vinaigrette from olive oil and cider vinegar in a ratio of 3:1, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, sugar and a small clove of finely chopped garlic.
#57 Asparagus Omelette 6.5/10. A very nice omelette, but oddly I preferred the asparagus and eggs I made earlier in the month. Not sure why, because the ingredients are essentially the same.