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December 26, 2010

Mullet with an 'o'

I attended a top- notch cooking school for three years. For the first of these three, I admit I found more enjoyment in social activities than I did in cookery demonstrations. To but it mildly, I spent a fair amount of time sleeping through the sessions on the bed upstairs in the gallery. This was the perfect position for a young socially- active person. You just arrived in time to call your name on the register, and then had a little doze until a friend shook you awake a few hours later.

Alas, this had grave consequences. To this day I cannot cook a boiled egg with the yolk perfectly centred, and I certainly can’t name all the ingredients in a sauce gribiche (I think it has parsley in it, though). I only very recently learnt how to the properly pronounce the name for soft- boiled eggs; eggs mollet. (It doesn't sound like mullet with an ‘o’- turns out.)

On the positive side, my alcohol- and party induced ignorance of yonder years has lead me to constant new discoveries.

For example, I beamed with joy when I found out that you can make pistachios even greener by boiling them for 10 minutes and then rubbing off the shells. Thanks to Sharon Glass and her cookbook Simply Too Delicious, I now know that if you dunk an avo in boiling water for 5 minutes before using it, it goes almost luminous green and stays that way far longer than usual. 

I can picture my cookery teacher cringing as she reads this, like she did in my second year teaching demonstration, where I re- taught the students some great tricks that they’d actually been over the week before.

The point is, my new super- green avo revelation is going to be very handy for up- coming guacamole and terrines.

Smoked fish and avocado terrine
Adapted from Sharon Glasses' recipe in her book Simply Too Delicious 

* My avo stayed bright green for about 8 hours. But since I made this on the 23rd, intending a stress- free dinner on Christmas Eve, it did go a little brown in the end. Lumo avo is a wonder, but with a twenty- four hour interim, I was pushing my luck. 

The famous Niles
  • 500g smoked fish (I combined some nice orange haddock with some mackerel)
  • 70ml home-made mayonnaise ( recipe follows)
  • 400g cream cheese 
  • 50 g greek or bulgarian- style yoghurt
  • 5 radishes ( the pinkest you can find), finely grated
  • 4  ripe but firm avocados
  • juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs chopped chives
  • 3ml smoked paprika\
  • salt and pepper
  1. Shred the fish and carefully remove all bones. South Africans, if you fear choking due to a lazy eye for picking out bones, buy smoked fish from Woolworths. They do spoil us. Season and set aside. 
  2. Whisk up the cream cheese and yoghurt and add the pretty pink radish. Season. 
  3. Plunge the avocados, with their skin on, into a pot of boiling water. Time for 5 minutes and remove, cool under cold running water. Mash up really well with a fork, add the lime juice and zest, spring onion, chives, paprika and plenty of seasoning. Don't expect it to taste nice- hot avo is repulsive in my opinion, but it magically returns to it's old flavour upon cooling. 
  4. Line a medium- sized bread tin with cling wrap. Start with the cream cheese mixture- spread half on the base. Top with half of the fish and then half of the avo. Repeat the layers, ending with an avo layer. 
  5. Cover the top with cling film and press down lightly. Refrigerate for no more than eight hours. 
  6. To serve, remove top layer of cling film and turn out on a platter. Remove outer cling wrap and smooth surface with a knife dipped in hot water. Put some pretty herbs on top if you want to be cute-sie like me. 

*serve with some crusty Artichoke, Feta and Herb Bread
  • 2 shop-bought french baguettes 
  • about 30ml good olive oil
  • 200g good quality feta cheese (you want the kind that's not so synthetic that it won't melt), sliced thinly
  • 100g or so bottled artichokes, thinly sliced (if you can get hold of a brand called Mediterranea it will most likely blow your mind) 
  • handful of basil, nicely ripped up 
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Make gashes in the loaf, about 1cm apart (don't cut all the way through).  
  2. Brush with olive oil. Poke the feta and artichoke slices, and the basil, into the slits. Season
  3. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crusty. 
  4. Just before serving, turn on the grill for a few minutes to get the top really crisp.  

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar (use any type but I like white wine vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • 700ml vegetable oil
  1. Place the egg yolks, vinegar and mustard in a magi- mix or in a blender (I've even made this in a Kenwood fitted with a whisk attachment ) and blitz. You can also do this by hand, but you have to be strong, like bull. 
  2. Gradually add the oil in a thin stream. If you are whisking by hand, use a large bowl and add the oil drop by drop.
  3. If the mixture get's a bit thick, thin it down with a bit of water and whisk it up again as you add the oil. You may have to do this a few times before all the oil is used up.
  4. Season to taste and store in glass jars or bottles in the fridge. 
Spice it up:
  • Cook 2-3 cloves of a garlic with a mit of milk, wrapped in a foil bundle in a low heat oven for about 30- 40 minutes until softened. Blend into your mayonnaise to make aioli.
  • Use lemon juice in place of the vinegar and add some grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon) to the mayonnaise at the end
  • Add in chopped coriander and crushed, lightly toasted coriander seeds  for a North- African flavour.
  • Add a dash of smoked paprika. 
  • Make yummy sarmies with rocket and gypsy ham and sliced tomato!
  • Served with cold crayfish (a favourite in this house)
  • Spread some mustard on to a white fish fillet. Season. Spread some mayonnaise on next. Make a mixture of breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and plenty of chopped herbs and press on top of the maYo! Drizzle with a little melted butter and bake in a 200 C oven for 15- 20 minutes until fish is firm and just cooked through. Hmmmm:)

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