Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I had lunch today with my very good friend Frances, who has recently returned from a year abroad. Frances has been keeping up with my blog, but as she was overseas, had not yet been able to try any of the dishes.


286. Crepes Parmentier with Smoked Haddock
287. Poires belle Hélène

We had an extremely leisurely lunch – Frances arrived at about 1:00pm (complete with issues of Spanish Cosmo!) and I only started cooking then, very relaxedly, chatting away to Frances as I chopped and stirred. It was one of those convivial, companiable lunches that Nigella often writes about.

I did the shopping in the morning before Frances arrived. As you might expect, I couldn’t find any smoked haddock, and had to substitute. Nigella suggests smoked salmon as a substitute, but warns that it can signify “no-effort”. I happened to find a packet of smoked mackerel at the supermarket, which was cheaper than the salmon, so I went for that.

smoked mackerel

The crepes are similar to blini – small pancakes served with a soured cream (in this case, crème fraiche) and smoked fish, which you assemble as you eat. These crepes, however, contain mashed potato as the prime ingredient, which gives them a different taste and texture.

The fish (which my mum sliced for me) is marinated in lemon juice and oil, whilst you fry the crepes.

You serve fish and pancakes with crème fraiche and chopped chives. Nigella suggests St. John’s salad as an accompaniment, which went very nicely.


This was a lovely lunch. All the components complement each other perfectly – the pancakes themselves are quite bland, but with the smokily salty fish, they’re just right. And it was a decent amount of food – we were satisfied after lunch, but not bloated.

Dessert was poached pears. You peel and halve pears, and poach them in a vanilla sugar syrup until tender, and serve them with a chocolate sauce, vanilla ice-cream and crystallized violets. Truth be told, I was quite hungrily impatient with the pears. I removed them from the pan before they were quite ready, so they were a bit firmer than they should be, but not unpleasantly so.

pears belle helene - delicious!


one serve

Frances really liked the chocolate sauce - I think the inclusion of espresso really adds a nice, rounded flavour to it. We weren't mad on the crystallised violets, however. $17.28 for a teensy jar? Waste of money!

We cleaned up the kitchen together, and then I immediately started on dinner…

1 comment:

domesticgoddess said...

Looks gorgeous! I think that poires dish is so tasty, and the fish crepes look like a pefectly satisfying little lunch :)

I've only ever tried crystallised roses and think they're fab- I wonder whether the violets will live up to that.