A pretty kettle of fish
HAPPY FEAST day to my colleague Clare Asquith for 11 August. St Clare got togeth- er with St Francis of Assisi and started the order of Poor Clares and obtained from the Pope the privilege of total poverty—some privilege. Then on 15 August, the Assump- tion of Our Lady, so Happy Birthday to Taki despite his unfortunate blow-up. Grouse shooting starts on the 12th but I shall leave game until a little later in the season and give you the fish salad I con- cocted for Woman's Hour.
A fish salad for a main course a 2 lb monkfish tail
small, waxy new potatoes 1 lb of chestnut button mushrooms 1 packet of bean sprouts fresh root ginger 4 globe artichokes lemons or limes spring onions 4 cloves of garlic, crushed parsley and dill Tabasco, soy sauce olive oil
1/4 pint of thick cream
salt and pepper
Prepare the artichokes by cutting off the stalk and all the horny tips of the leaves so that you leave only the edible part. Pull away the tough bottom leaves. Cut each artichoke into quarters and scoop out the furry choke with a sharp little knife. Now slice the quarters vertically into thin slices and plunge them into a bowl of acidulated water (use lemon juice or vinegar) as you go or they will turn black. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add two well-crushed cloves of garlic, cook gently, but don't brown. Drain the artichokes and pat dry. Add to the pan, cover and sauté gently until tender. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, strew with chopped parsley. Leave to cool. Oil a large piece of foil, place the fish in the middle with some branches of dill and a few spring onions. Pour the juice of a lemon or lime over the fish and put a few slivers of fresh ginger on top. Season well with sea salt and pepper. Make a secure loose parcel, pinching the foil together and twisting it to seal. Place on a baking tray and cook in a preheated oven at Gas 7, 425F, 220C, for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to Gas 4, 350F, 180C, and cook for a further 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Boil as many potatoes as you want, peel (or not), season and dress with olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Allow to cool. Slice the mushrooms very finely. Make a mixture with ten tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of one lemon or lime, two tablespoons of soy sauce, two crushed cloves of garlic, a few dashes of Tabasco and a walnut-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated. Stir in the mushrooms and leave to marinate for an hour or so, then add the cream and adjust the seasoning. Time to assemble when every- thing has cooled. Have a fine big dish or charger, cover the base with handfuls of bean sprouts, pour the mushroom mixture on top, spreading it all over the sprouts. Surround with the little potatoes and the artichokes in alternate positions.
Remove the central bone from the fish and place the fillets on top of the mush- rooms. Strew with more parsley and dill. rather like this muted appearance but if you want more colour you could place a few tiger prawns artfully about the dish. Monkfish is expensive but you could use any firm fish such as hake or even coley, but you can't beat the monkfish for its tex- ture in this case.
My treat from the splendid Chocolate Soci- ety didn't fit in last month, so I'll try again.
3 egg whites 3 oz of caster sugar 3 oz of icing sugar 1 oz of best-quality cocoa powder
1/4 pint of double cream
sprinkling of very dark, grated chocolate
Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the caster sugar and whisk until stiff again. Sieve the icing sugar and the cocoa together and fold into the egg whites. Cover a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment. Spoon the mixture in blobs on to the tray (or pipe dain- ty rosettes). Bake in the oven at Gas 1/2, 250F, 130C, for an hour. Turn heat to lowest possible temperature and leave for 4 hours to dry out. Cool, sandwich together with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate. Or keep in an air- tight tin until required, then add the cream at will.