The Best Salmon Nicoise Recipe

Perfect Summer Party Food

This is the easiest summer lunch/dinner food for a crowd of people, and a delight to serve as it is all prepared in advance and delivers a wow factor when brought to the table.  This isn’t a recipe as such, more an indication of the quantities needed for 10 people. Serve with a bowl of Jersey Royal potatoes, tossed in unsalted butter with a touch of salt, pepper and fresh, chopped parsely and you have the perfect party food. I make a lemon mayonnaise with three egg yolks, and use the whites to make baby meringues .

For 10 people

2 handfuls of salad leaves

1 packet French beans

2-3 bundles English asparagus

6 x hard boiled eggs

4-6 vine tomaotes, cut into quarters

large handful of black oilves

140g per person of salmon fillets without skin  (either in one piece, or in individual fillets)

 

1. Cook the salmon. I place the salmon fillets on a large piece of foil, placed in a roasting tin or baking sheet. Add a small glass of white wine, a tablespoon of olive oil, some lemon slices and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the salmon loosely in the foil, and cook in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes. This is where you need to use your own judgement, and keep checking in the oven to see if it is cooked. Remember it will continue to cook as it cools, so remove from the oven when it is just turning opaque. If your oven is uneven in it’s heat, you may need to remove some cooked pieces of fillet before removing the others. Leave to cool.

2. Blanch the French beans – that is to say, cook the trimmed French beans in boiling water for 5 mintes, remove and plunge immediately into cold water. Drain and leave in fridge until ready to use.

3. Wash the asparagus thoroughly then snap along the stem until it breaks easily. Discard these snapped off pieces. Cook the spears on the hob in gently bubbling water until cooked. This will take 5-10 minutes, depending on how fat your spears of asparagus are. I use a large frying pan for this and hover over the stove, piercing the spears from time to time with my pointed knife. When they are just cooked, remove from the pan (some may be cooked before others) and refresh in cold water. Drain and leave in fridge until ready to use.

4. Hard boil eggs – Place medium size eggs in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Plunge into cold water and leave to cool. Then peel the shells off and leave in the fridge until ready.

5. Wash and quarter the tomatoes.

6. Make a simple dressing of 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard, juice of half lemon, 3 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper

7. To assemble, toss the salad leaves in the dressing and place on the bottom of a large serving platter – a long salmon plate is ideal for this. Then scatter the asparagus and French beans on top of the leaves . Add the salmon, breaking into large chunks and arrange on top of the leaves, beans and asparagus. Scatter the tomatoes  and olives over and around the salmon, then place the eggs on top. Drizzle the finished dish with a dash of olive oil and serve.

 

 

 

HOW TO FEED A CROWD

Spiced Chicken with Sour Cherries and Pomegranate

Feed a crowd by preparing a few fabulous cold dishes then placing them in the centre of the table for your guests to dig in and help themselves. This relaxed approach means that you can make sure the food not only tastes good but looks amazing too. Most importantly  you can really enjoy the company of your friends without the stress of last minute cooking. This is a recipe I devised for one of our favourite clients for a big country gathering a couple of summers ago. It was hugely popular so when my friend Rachel asked for party food suggestions this sprung to mind. She was planning on 14-20 guests, so we decided on a salmon dish with a fresh tomato, red onion, caper and basil salsa, a vibrant orzo salad and this chicken dish.  I went along to help her prepare it and got a text first thing the next morning saying how much everyone enjoyed it.

The quantities below would easily serve 14 with salads and bread.

  • 3 x large organic chickens
  • 2 x lemons
  • 2-3Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs Baharat spices – Bart’s do a good blend
  • 2 x large white onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 large pot of Greek yoghurt
  • 1 x 800g jar Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 2 x 70g packets of sour cherries (usually found on the dried fruit shelf of the supermarket)
  • 1 x large bunch coriander
  • 1 x 110g packet of pomegranate seeds (on the prepared fruit counter, or a one fresh pomegranate if unavailable)
  1. Remove chickens from fridge, remove all packaging and string and allow to come to room temperature
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 190’C
  3. Cut the lemons into quarters and stuff into the cavities of the chickens
  4. Place the chickens into roasting pans and rub all over with olive oil
  5. Rub 1 Tbs of the Baharat spices onto the oiled chicken
  6. Wash hands well and pop the chickens into the oven – depending on oven size you may need to do this in batches
  7. Cook the chickens fo 1.5 – 2 hours. The rule of thumb is generally roast for 20 minutes per lb, then check and allow for a further 20 minutes if necessary. The way to check is to pierce the leg, and check if the juices run clear, bearing in mind that cooking more than one chicken will take longer than usual. The chicken will continue to cook once it has been removed from the oven.
  8. When you are happy the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and place on cooling racks.
  9. When the chickens are perfectly cool, remove the skin then strip the chicken from the bones in large pieces. When you have finished doing this will all the chickens, chop into bite size pieces and leave in fridge while you prepare the dressing.
  10. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a frying pan and add the chopped onions
  11. Cook, stirring for 5-10 minutes until softened then add 2 Tbs of the Baharat spices. Give a good stir and cook for a further 3-5 minutes.
  12. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. When completely cool, stir into the mayonnaise and yogurt.
  13. Soak the cherries in water for a few minutes to soften
  14. Chop the coriander and divide into half
  15. Mix half the coriander and the sour cherries into the spiced yoghurt mixture
  16. Mix into the chopped up chicken, taste and season with salt and black pepper.
  17. Place in fridge overnight, keeping the rest of the chopped coriander and the pomegranate seeds for garnish.
  18. Before your guests arrive, pile the chicken onto beautiful plates and scatter over the coriander and pomegranate seeds. Damp down some greaseproof paper, squeeze out and cover the chicken until ready to serve.

NOTES:

Baharat is an aromatic blend of spices used in Middle Eastern cooking and contains Paprika, Coriander, Black Pepper, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, Cardamom. It is used in Middle Eastern cooking.

If you can’t find the sour cherries, omit them and use extra pomegranate seeds

If you are not confident about cooking meat you can invest in a meat thermometer which will be able to tell you when the meat or poultry is thoroughly cooked.

A job in a barn and heart warming stew

This weekend found us in one of the more bizarre venues – a woodcutting mill in Gloucestershire. Our clients wanted to celebrate the installation of the timber frame for their new house and had invited over 80 guests. Forecast was wet, wet, wet and the frame had no roof. Our style of catering is based on logistics for a very good reason; each job is totally different and each has a fresh set of challenges. However, Jane and I are always up for a challenge and devised a brilliantly simple and delicious solution to feeding a lot of people lovely food without access to a kitchen. Fortunately the saw mill workshop had a roof and some electricity so we set up a bar in one barn and a kitchen/servery in another. We handed out our famous mini bagels and parmesan shortbreads whilst guests clambered around the building site, and huddled around the bonfire. We then served up steaming bowls of warming chorizo and butter stew with huge hunks of fresh, locally made focaccia. Finger food pudding was squares of our popular chocolate fridge cake and orange and almond cake. As it turned out the people were lovely and the food went down really well. Everyone had a great time, loved the strangeness of the situation and best of all, it didn’t rain.

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