The heart of our home

Steve and I each have our studio/work spaces on opposite ends of our home.  The kitchen is right in the centre, at the heart of our home.  It’s our shared studio where we make creations from food, sometimes separately, sometimes together.  I keep my laptop in the bookcase and do an awful lot of my blogging at the kitchen table. The night before our housewarming party a couple of weeks ago was the big test for using it as a shared space.

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The menu for the party all began (and originally ended) with Posh Nibbles, eg  olives, sea salt & balsamic vinegar crisps, homemade gougeres and cheese straws, garlic & herb roulade, Carr’s water biscuits.

It was Steve who said ‘Let’s make a poached salmon’ and the whole concept was instantly elevated to a new level.  The final menu became:

Poached salmon in aspic
Pork, juniper and pistachio terrine
Aubergine purée with pomegranate and almonds
Roasted spelt, red pepper and pistachio salad
Tuscan potato salad
Beetroot and goat’s cheese tart
Leek and gruyere tart
Meringues, fresh berries and cream
Tarte aux abricots
Frosted brownie

While Steve poached the salmon and made the terrine, I made the brownie, apricot tart and roasted the vegetables for the tarts and salads.  It was good fun. Our kitchen is very spacious and we can clear the table for an additional work surface.  At about 9 o’ clock, we went out to the White Horse, our local, for a takeaway stone baked pizza.  We amused a couple of our friends when we said we’d been cooking all evening and had come out for some dinner.

Here’s some of the party food, followed by a the recipe for the star of the show.

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The poached salmon was quite impressive to behold and, according to Steve, relatively simple to prepare.  Our fishmonger, Fishes, in Exeter lent us a salmon poacher and serving platter.

Poached Salmon in Aspic

  • A 6-7 lb. salmon, gutted
  • One bottle of white wine – Chardonnay or Burgundy
  • Fish stock, about 2 litres
  • An onion, sliced
  • Two egg whites
  • Gelatine, one packet
  • Cucumber, sliced thin
  • Fresh curly parsley
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Peeled, cooked shrimp
  • 1-2 lemons, sliced thin

Place the salmon in the poaching pan, scatter with sliced onion and pour over the bottle of wine and fish stock.  Add enough cold water to just cover the fish.  Bring the liquid to the boil. Boil for two minutes and then turn off the heat.  Leave the fish, covered for a few hours to cook through. Let the fish cool in the liquid.

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Drain the fish and remove the scales and skin using the side of a knife blade.

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Strain the poaching liquid into a saucepan, using a chinois or a colander lined with cheese cloth.  As the stock will be made into aspic, you should clarify it so it is beautifully clear and sparkling.  This is accomplished by beating egg whites into the cold stock, then heating it to just below the simmer for 15 minutes.  The egg-white globules dispersed into the stock act as a magnet for all its minute cloudy particles.  These gradually rise to the surface, leaving a crystal clear liquid below them.

Aspic (or meat jelly) is made by adding unflavored gelatine to clarified stock in the following proportion:  1 envelope of gelatine for 2 cups of liquid.  Sprinkle the gelatine over the hot stock and stir to dissolve.

To decorate the salmon, Steve sliced the cucumber into transparent slices using a mandoline.  Then he brushed on a layer of aspic and arranged the cucumber slices into an overlapping fishscale pattern, finishing with a final coating of aspic.  Then the salmon was chilled overnight in the fridge.  We had to remove the head and tail to make it fit, but these were cleverly ‘re-attached’ the following day by concealing the join with a layer of cucumber slices and brushing with a final coating of aspic.

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The salmon was garnished with parlsey, tomatoes, lemon slices and cold shrimp.

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To accompany the salmon, I made a Lemon Tartare Sauce and a Creme fraîche and Dill Sauce.

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The star of the party

Neither of us got the chance to sample all of the food on the night of the party because we were pre-occupied with showing our guests around the flat and making sure they had everything they possibly desired. But we had really good leftovers for a couple of days.

A good thing to do with leftover salmon is to make an Alfredo Sauce with some lemon juice and capers, stir in chunks of salmon and serve over tagliatelle.  I will post a couple of other recipes sometime later on.  The beetroot and goat’s cheese tart and the frosted brownie were particularly fine.


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One thought on “The heart of our home

  1. Sounds ideal that you can both share the space, which looks very cosy! 🙂
    Hope you don’t mind me using this comment box for the following Melinda, but I couldn’t find an e mail address or another way to let you know.
    I’m sorry I’m a little late contacting you about this, but I have nominated and listed your blog, along with details, on my blog for One Lovely Blog Award. If you’ve received this one before you don’t have to go through it all again. And if you’re really not that into blog awards, that’s ok…….. I appreciate that not everyone would want to participate.
    Just that this is the first one I’ve received personally, so I thought I would take part, and let some of you know how much I like to read and look at your blogs!

    Thanks, Pam.

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