Salmon Fillets with Shallot and Watercress Sauce
4 pieces of filleted salmon about 6oz/170g each (we buy organic salmon from Isle of Skye Seafood)
For the watercress and shallot sauce:
4 shallots, skinned and finely chopped
1/2 stick of celery, sliced thinly
1/2 pint/285ml chicken stock
3oz/85g watercress, washed
1/4 pint/140ml single cream
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To cook the salmon follow the method John Tovey taught me many years ago: place the fillets on a buttered baking tray and on each piece put 1oz/28g of butter. Season, then bake in a very hot oven, 420F/220C/Gas Mark 7, for five minutes. This is perfect for up to six fillets of fish, but allow a further minute in the oven for eight.
To make the sauce, sauté the shallots and celery in the butter for three or four minutes then pour in the stock and simmer until the amount has reduced by half. Put the contents of the saucepan into a blender and whiz, gradually adding the watercress and the single cream. Add the sugar and taste, adding salt and pepper as you like. You can make this ahead and reheat gently, but take care not to let the sauce boil. Spooned over the salmon fillets to serve.
Marinated Steaks with Pepper Cream Sauce and Roast Root Vegetables
This is such a convenient main course, because the steaks only need to be lifted from their marinade, patted dry and cooked. The pepper sauce can be made ahead and reheated, and the vegetables can be put to roast two hours before dinner, and dished up into a warmed serving dish and kept in a low temperature oven until you are ready to eat.
6 best fillet steaks, each weighing 6-8oz/170-225g (we buy ours from Duncan Fraser in Inverness)
10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 fat cloves of garlic, skinned and sliced
a good tablespoon of coarsely ground black pepper
Mix the olive oil, garlic and pepper together, and spoon over the fillet steaks in a wide, shallow dish. Leave to marinate for several hours in a cool place, turning the steaks and spooning over the marinade from time to time.
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon of coarsely ground black pepper
1 pint/570ml double cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
To make the sauce, first put the pepper into a saucepan over a moderate heat and toast it, shaking the pan from time to time, for five to seven minutes. Add the cream to the pan and simmer gently until it has thickened. Stir in the lemon juice just before serving.
Cook the steaks to your own preference. I use a ridged griddle on the Aga hot plate and heat this up well before adding the steaks in order, according to how well-done each person likes them. It is a mistake to move the steaks around as they are cooking - leave them alone until it is time to turn them over. Pressing the meat with your fingertip is the best indication of how well each steak is cooked. To serve, spoon the sauce half over each steak.
For the roast root vegetables:
3 carrots, peeled and cut into roughly 2in/5cm chunks
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into similar-sized chunks
6 banana shallots, or 12 smaller ones, skinned and halved
3 beetroot, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 turnip (or swede) peeled and cut into chunks
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons flaky salt
Line a large roasting tin with baking parchment and mix together the prepared vegetables on this. Then, using your hands, mix in the olive oil. Scatter the salt over the vegetables and roast in a hot oven, 400F/200C/ Gas Mark 6, for 45 to 55 minutes, mixing the vegetables up once or twice during the roasting time. Serve in a warmed serving dish.
Mashed Rooster Potatoes With Horseradish Cream
This is delicious with any beef, venison or pork dish. Serves 6
2lb/900g Rooster potatoes, weighed when peeled (we buy ours from Jamie Grant at Munlochy, Black Isle)
1/2 pint/280ml single cream
2 tablespoons best horseradish relish or cream (I think Moniack's is best)
1/4 pint/140ml milk
1/2 teaspoon salt a good grinding of black pepper
2 tablespoons of snipped chives (optional)
Cut the potatoes into even-sized chunks and boil in salted water until they are soft when stuck with a knife. Drain them well, and briefly return the pan to the stove to steam off any excess moisture. Mash the potatoes very thoroughly in the pan, then, with a wooden spoon, beat in the cream, horseradish, milk, salt and pepper and continue beating till the potatoes are fluffy (don't be tempted to purée them in a food processor - the result will be a wallpaper paste-like glue). Lastly, beat in the snipped chives. Butter an ovenproof dish, pile the potatoes into this and cover with baking parchment. Keep the dish, covered in baking parchment, in a low oven until you are ready to serve.