I am typing this still in a semi-building site (my home) with a miniature English Bull Terrier draped across me as if he is a teeny tiny lapdog. But he weighs 20 kilos and keeps wriggling so please excuse any typos. Please also excuse the fact I haven't posted since May, but living in said building site and cooking on my Campingaz 2000s (which only knows hot and bastard hot) has not inspired new culinary adventures, more like old favourites that I can cook with my eyes closed, and not get annoyed with my lack of proper kitchen over. The prospect of cooking in a real kitchen is so exciting that I invited myself back to my parents' to help cook for a little lunch party, even though there were rail replacements and I would spend almost as much time getting there and back as I would indulging in the real kitchen. It was worth it. I made smoked salmon rillettes with pickled cucumber for a starter, and it only went and bloody tasted great (much to my relief), so here's the recipe (can be made the day before).
Feeds four (easily doubled etc). Start with the liquid for the pickled cucumber. Combine 200ml of white wine vinegar with 150g sugar in a small saucepan, heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved, take off the heat and leave to cool (I had to stick it outside as I was short of time). Peel the tough skin off half a cucumber with a potato peeler. Then peel the flesh into thin ribbons with the peeler, but leave the core full of seeds and too much water. Once the pickling liquid has cooled to room temperature, chuck in the cucumber ribbons and leave to pickle for an hour or so.
Now for the rillettes. Poach two salmon fillets (I used slightly smoked, you don't have to) very simply in freshly boiled water, in a shallow dish with foil on top for about 8 minutes. Drain, cool, and flake into a bowl. Add to the bowl 200g finely shopped smoked salmon, a tbsp mayonaise, 1tbsp creme fraiche, zest and juice of a half a lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper, cracked black pepper and a small handful each of chopped chives and dill. Mix well and taste. This recipe is all about personal taste so add more lemon if it needs more zing, or cayenne if you want more kick. It should be lively and light, not claggy. If you have time, stick it in the fridge to cool.
Serve how you like, I opted for quinelles (first time I tried them, not bad for a first attempt, well no-one laughed...) and with toasted seeded sourdough and a little pile of the cucumber pickle on the side. you could go with fancy melba toast but I think anything toasted would be great. Do make the pickle, it really adds contrast and looks pretty with the pink salmon.
I think it went down well, but sadly one guest had brought with them incredible ridiculously amazing truffle favoured crisps so I had a tough challenge beating those. How inconsiderate.