Monday, July 18, 2005

Monday Dinner

I know I should save the Fast Food recipes for non-holiday periods, but we had creme fraiche in the fridge and I need some way to use it up.

55. Mackerel in Cider
56. Cabbage with Caraway
57. Buttered Apples

So, mackerel. My usual fishmonger in Box Hill used to have "greasy mackerel", but not today for some odd reason. So I wondered over to a different one, and picked up some "Spanish mackerel", which comes in great big whopping cutlets. I took two tail pieces, and made the fish-guy cut them into fillets. (We kept the bones though, for future stock-making purposes).

The method is similar to the Chambery Trout, that is, you put the fish pieces in a dish, pour the alcohol over it (with some sliced shallots in this case), cover it tightly with foil and bake it. Nigella says to remove the skin once you've cooked it, but it was too difficult to remove cleanly, (and was too hungry to be arsed) so I just flipped the fish over. Not that we care about fish skin; we always eat it. The cider I used was a single bottle of Strongbow Dry ("Get it any way you can"), because that was all I could find at Safeway.

Nigella suggests cabbage as a side dish, or potatoes and spinach, or watercress and fennel. I chose cabbage because it's a separate recipe (therefore one more off the list). More importantly though, we love cabbage! The cabbage is well easy - shred it in the processor, stir fry with caraway seeds, pour stock over and simmer away.

Once the fish is cooked, you set it aside, and pour the juices from the dish into a small pan, and simmer it down with some double cream or creme fraiche. I used creme fraiche, because it was leftover from an onion tart. You're supposed to strain the little pieces of shallot out before you serve it, but I forgot. This wasn't a bad thing though, I love their oniony taste and texture.


Mackerel in Cider with a glass of cider in the background - Dad drowned his cabbage in tabasco sauce, but I forgave him.

Dad: I love this, this sauce!

He then drowned his fish in the sauce, and I decided against telling him that it mainly consisted of 60% fat creme fraiche.

Dessert! Buttered apples! This was my chance to shine! (This is the kind of stuff I get paid to make for hours on end at work, see). Put butter in a pan with some apple pieces, let them brown, then sprinkle with sugar and let it all bubble and brown into a deliciously sweet caramel. Nigella doesn't suggest flambeeing it, but seeing as I'm a professional flambee-chick, I really couldn't resist.

To flambee, I wouldn't bother faffing around with heating brandy in a pan, lighting it and pouring it over, as I've read in some books. Just get the pan really, really hot, then pour some brandy around the circumference of the pan, and tilt the pan so the fire comes into contact with the liquid. WOOOOSH!

Flambee baby - you can't really see the flames in the photo, but trust me, it happened!

Served with my home-made vanilla ice-cream, melting creamily into the sauce. Mmm... delicious! The tart apples (Granny Smiths) against the supersweet sauce is wild... but a warning. Once the apple's gone, the sauce is just too intensely sweet. I'd already had two coffees today, but after a spoonful of apple-less sauce, I needed a third coffee, immediately, to cut through the sweetness.

To conclude, the mackerel in cider rocks! (Heaps better than chambery trout!) And the apples are great too! Flambeeing is fun. Give it a go!


domesticgoddess said...

YAY!!!!! am so happy you liked the mackerel in cider. it's one of my faves. not that many people on the forum appear to have made it.

awesome dinner- you can't go wrong with apples! i like the flambeeing, but in my case it would be 'don't try this at home, kids...' LOL.

megan5286 said...

DG/Sarah - is the mackeral "fishy"? We use it for bait, not eating....

Sarah said...

Hi Megan,

I didn't find the mackeral particularly fishy, in fact, I'd say it was quite mild. The species I used, Spanish Mackerel, was quite large - the tail piece was almost as long as my forearm, and the cutlets I saw were double the size of the salmon cutlets - so I'm not sure if this is the same type you use for bait.

xox Sarah

megan5286 said...

Well, I have used spanish mackerel as bait, but it wasn't nearly that big! I will have to try it - I have seen it in my favorite fish shop. Your pictures are wonderful, as per usual!!!!