PARSLEY CREPE WITH AVRUGA, CUCUMBER AND CRÈME FRAÎCHE
This is such an easy first course and these tastes go together beautifully.
4oz/110g plain flour
2 large eggs
1/2 pint/285ml milk
a pinch of salt
a grinding of black pepper
a handful of flat-leafed parsley
For the filling:
2 large jars Avruga - smoked herring roe
1/2 pint/285ml or 12 tablespoons thick, full-fat crème fraîche
1/2 cucumber, skin peeled off, cut into chunks and seeds scooped away, the cucumber flesh cut into neat dice
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
Put the flour, eggs, milk, salt, pepper and parsley into a blender and whiz. Leave the resulting batter to stand for a minimum of 30 minutes. If you make it longer in advance, be sure to stir it up well before making into crêpes. To make up, melt a bit of butter the size of your thumbnail in a crêpe pan and heat up the pan over a medium heat. Pour in a small amount of batter, tipping and tilting the pan so that you can get an even, thin film of batter. Cook for several seconds, then slip your thumbs under the crêpe, fingers on top, and flip over, to cook for several seconds on the other side. Cool the crêpes on a plastic tray, before stacking them. When they are all made, cover the tray of crêpes with a cloth or with clingfilm, to prevent the air from toughening them.
Mix together all the filling ingredients. You can do this in the morning, ready to fill the crêpes later in the day. To assemble, lay a crêpe on each plate and put a spoonful of the filling on one half, folding the other half over and pressing lightly to make the filling even. Repeat with a second crêpe, putting the two straight sides together, so the two filled crêpes on each plate form a circle. Lay a sprig of dill down the centre, and cover the plates with clingfilm until just before you eat.
DEVILLED HERRING ROES ON TOAST
2 tablespoons flour, sieved
1/2 teaspoon salt
plenty of black pepper, ground fine
a dusting of cayenne pepper (a pinch would be my measurement, but I do not advise pinching cayenne pepper: its ferocity lingers on the fingers for hours)
2lb/900g soft herring roe, sliced
3oz/85g butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon cut into 6 wedges
6 slices of granary bread
Put the flour, salt, pepper and cayenne into a large polythene bag. Add the herring roe slices and shake the bag to coat each slice with seasoned flour, then tip the slices out and onto a large dish.
Heat the butter and olive oil together in a wide sauté pan, till hot and foaming. Fry the coated herring roe slices - they will curl up as they cook. Turn each over and cook for about one minute in total. Toast and butter the slices of bread - one piece per person. Place the buttered toast on six warmed plates, then top with the herring roe slices lifted straight from the pan. Serve immediately, with a piece of lemon on each plate.
COD ROE WITH APPLE SLICES AND BACON
Bacon goes so well with all types of fish and shellfish, and the roe of fish, in this case cod roe, is no exception.
2 rashers of the best-quality (dry cured) back bacon per person, smoked or unsmoked
1 slice of cod roe per person, about 1/2 in/1cm thick
2 slices of eating apple per person
a dash of Tabasco
a grinding of black pepper
Grill the bacon rashers until they're as crisp as you like them and keep warm.
Heat the merest smear of olive oil in a non-stick sauté pan and, when it is hot, fry the slices of cod roe. When you put them in the pan leave them alone - do not be tempted to shove them around the pan with your fish slice. After about a minute, carefully turn each slice to cook on its other side. The slices should end up crisp on the surface. As they cook, fry the slices of apple. (Depending how many people you are cooking for, you may not have room in the sauté pan for both cod roe and apple slices at the same time, in which case fry the apple slices first and keep the slices warm on a plate while you fry the cod roe.)
Cook the apple till each slice is just tender when stuck with a fork. Add the Tabasco and season with black pepper. Serve as soon as the cod roe is done.