Sunday, 27 September 2015

Raspberry Jam

We've been growing raspberries in The Albion Tavern's beer garden for a couple of years now, and this year has seen a flourishing crop of fruit. We grow a late-season variety, which is perfect for harvesting after the summer fruits have long-since been enjoyed. Here is a very easy jam recipe. 1kg of raspberries will be enough to fill four jars.

1kg raspberries
1kg jam sugar
1 lemon

1. Place half of the raspberries in a large pan with the juice of one lemon.
2. Gently heat for five minutes while mashing the fruit.
3. Strain the fruit into a bowl and then push the pulp through a sieve. Discard the leftover seeds.
4. Return the strained fruit to the pan and add the sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until all the sugar is incorporated.
5. Add the remaining fruit, then bring to a fierce boil (or 106C) for five minutes.
6. You can test the jam by placing a dollop onto a very cold plate, but I think with raspberry jam you can tell when it is starting to look glossy and sticky.
7. Allow to cool slightly then spoon into sterilised jam jars.
8. Once completely cool, jam should be set.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Norwegian Fiskekaker

In what is likely to be the most anti-climactic comeback since The Second Coming by The Stone Roses, I’m re-opening The Albion Tavern after an almost three-year rat infestation with a bit of a surprise dish ­– Norwegian fishcakes, aka fiskekaker. That’s right, kaker. Now the Norwegians must have an inferiority complex when it comes to their neighbours and culinary delights. Where Denmark has bacon and beer (not to mention pastries), Sweden has meatballs and Absolut vodka. Norway, meanwhile, has a salt cod dish so famous in Portugal, it even has a Portuguese name, bacalhau, and a piss-coloured liqueur tasting of dill and caraway called akvavit, which literally (and laughingly) translates as “water of life”.
And it doesn’t stop at food and drink ­– or even at Norway’s Scandinavian cousins. Take Norway’s most famous explorer, Roald Amundsen, for example. Even the first man to reach the South Pole is somewhat overshadowed by the blokes who finished second, Captain Scott, Oates et al, and their tale of bravery, sacrifice, camaraderie and, well, painful and lonely death. Makes you proud to be British.
By Odin, even the vikings aren’t as good.

Swedish vikings, yesterday
Danish vikings, yesterday
A Norwegian viking, yesterday
So why fiskekaker, then? Well apart from the rather amusing name, I’ve just hired a Norwegian pot-washer whose grandma (or mormor – literally, mothermother) sent me this recipe to try. Apparently mormor likes to make these while morfar (motherfather) is trawling the North Sea (probably in British waters) for our cod and haddock like a morfacker.
I’m not gonna lie here, the results were not what I was expecting, and certainly don't expect a traditional "western" fishcake. In fact, what you get is a kind of fishy American pancake batter. Doesn't sound very appealing, I know, but once cooked you get a very light and fluffy delight. Very tasty and very moreish. I did jazz up the accompaniments and presentation a little from the traditional Norwegian (boiled potatoes and carrots), and did play with the ingredients a little. If you aren't lucky enough to have a Norwegian pot-washer with a suspiciously large supply of potato flour, then substitute corn flour instead. Also, the original instructions called for cakes slightly larger than a nugget, but smaller than a morfar. I obviously ignored this and made fishcake-sized, er, fiskekaker.

Ingredients (serves four, making 8 large fiskekaker easily)
For the fiskekaker:
600g white fish fillets, such as cod or haddock, skinned
2 tsp potato flour
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
200ml milk
200ml double cream
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp chives
1 large shallot, sliced
1 garlic glove, sliced
2 tbsp pepper

Serve with:
Boiled egg
Creamy mash

1. Pre-heat over to 140C/gas 1.
2. Cut fish into chunks and pulse in a blender with salt.
3. Add potato flour and stir.
4. Add eggs, cream, milk, pepper and chives and mix well to a smooth consistency.
5. Gently fry the shallot and garlic until soft. Add to mix and combine.
6. Heat butter over a medium heat in a large pan.
7. Add large spoonfuls of the fish mix. You will probably have room for 4 generous cakes at a time.
8. Fry for 5 minutes per side.
9. Place in oven on a low heat for 10-15 minutes.
10. Serve with fried bacon strips, shallots, sautéed carrots, capers, a boiled egg and creamy mash, while listening to a-ha's Take On Me, which, let's be honest, is better than anything by Abba.