Happy new year, everyone! As always, I welcome the new year with a scrumptious breakfast spread to start off on the right foot, get into the groove, so to speak, and celebrate a new chapter with our tastebuds tickled in all the right places. And what better time is there than a New Year’s breakfast to indulge in not having to make decisions – and taking a little bit of everything instead~? This time around I’ve got options for you guys! So let’s get this show on the road~
As you might have guessed, “everything” does take a liiiiitlle bit of time – albeit (at least in this particular case) next to no effort whatsoever. The salmon needs to sit in it’s bright orange coat for 36-42 hours – with a tendency towards 42 – to reach its yum-factor and eye-candy peak, so let’s get started with the savory part of the spread today~
Fennel & Orange Cured Salmon
In order to see 4-6 smiles, you’ll need 800-1000g of salmon. Sounds much, but there’s the skin to be considered for one, and then there’s the fact that there’s simply never enough salmon on the breakfast table…
800g-1kg Salmon Fillet, skin on – if you get the chance to pick, try to score a piece that’s somewhat evenly thick all the way through, which leaves out the thinning/slimming tail-end. If you can’t avoid that, either shorten the curing-time to compensate or go with 2 separate pieces of 400-500g each.
4 Unwaxed, organic Oranges, finely grated zest of 2, peels of the other 2, all of them thinly sliced into disks
Alt: This works extraordinarily well with Blood Oranges too, just in case they’re in season for you right now~
4 Red Chillies, thinly sliced – take your pick, shop for aroma rather than heat
2 Sprigs of Rosemary, needles picked and finely chopped
Opt: 2 Tbsp Orange Liqueur – I discovered shot-sized bottles of Cointreau and other specimen of the “usual suspect” variety in the baking section of a large supermarket recently. Great option if you, like me, are not in the habit of maintaining a huge stock of booze you never need/touch with as much as a pitchfork unless rather specialized recipes call for it…
½ Tbsp Fennel Seeds
1 Tsp Aniseeds
1 Tbsp Pink Peppercorns
1 Tsp Orange Blossom Water
125g Light Brown Sugar or Fine Baking Sugar
125g Fine Grained Sea Salt
1 Small Fennel Bulb, finely grated
Before we begin, consider the space in your fridge and pick one of the two following options:
Stack, pack and seal the whole shebang in a deep dish, casserole or anything else along those lines or stack, pack and seal the whole shebang in a zip-lock baggie or two (just in case) and securely place it on a flat, stable and even surface where it can sit undisturbed for the duration of the process.
Either way, make sure you won’t have to move the fish around a lot, endangering the integrity of its sugar-and-salt casing – of course the dish is the “safer” option, not all of us are blessed with infinite fridge space, however.
Anyways, take your pick and take a more or less accurate guesstimate/measure of the shape of your fish and…
1) Arrange ½ of the orange slices inside your choice of container, roughly fitting the shape of the fish that’s soon going to be nestled onto them.
2) Set a small pan onto medium heat and toast all of the seeds in one go, just long enough to release their essential oils.
3) Once their aromas start wafting up to you, transfer them into a pestle & mortar and give them a light bash to crack them open just a little bit.
4) Tip them out into a small mixing bowl and add the orange zest, sugar, salt, fennel, chillies and rosemary.
5) Thoroughly fork through the mixture until the ingredients are well combined.
6) In case the mixture seems a little too wet to be convinced to stay in place around a solid piece of salmon at this point, add more sea salt.
7) Gently lay the salmon, skin-side down, on top of the oranges and bury it under the grainy mixture.
8) Tightly push, press and wriggle the spiced sugar-and-salt heap around the salmon until it settles into a firm’ish shell around it.
9) Spread out the remaining orange slices on top – and maybe a sprig of rosemary just for good measure and eye candy~
10) Tightly cover the whole thing with clingfilm if you’re using a dish, or – thoroughly pressing out any kinds of air bubbles trapped inside – seal the zip-lock baggie. Just a word of warning – both the fennel and the oranges ooze moisture like you wouldn’t believe, so make sure to have the seam tilted upwards after you’ve tucked the salmon into its resting place.
11) In case you’re unhappy with the shape of the salmon, here’s your chance to “cure it into shape”… sort of like a salami or jerky, if you will. This isn’t just for eye candy of course – evenly shaped things cure evenly all the way through. So, if you’re dealing with an unruly bit, place a cutting board or something of the sort on top and apply some pressure. A full milk carton, for example, will do the trick.
The first piece of salmon I ever cured wasn’t even remotely close to the ballpark of “evenly shaped”, so I went ahead, stuffed a wide airtight container with wet salt, hollowed out a space in the center, wriggled my zip-lock sealed salt-salmon-spicesandstuff stack into it, stuffed the sides with more salt to press the salmon inside into a rectangle, topped the lot off with even more salt and sat down on the lid in order to seal it. I pay close attention to what my fishmonger is doing to the fish in question ever since… live and learn.
12) Anyways, tuck it away in the fridge for 1-2 days~
Next up, the sugar to all that spice. Just as easy-breezy to make, also better made a day or so in advance, just so it’s off your list for the gig.
Caramelized Greengage, Rosemary & Vanilla Jam
1,5 kg Greengages, halved and pitted
2 Vanilla Pods, sliced into halves lengthwise
½ Lemon, Juice and Zest
½ Orange, Juice and Zest
4 Sprigs of Rosemary
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2:1 Gelling/Preserving Sugar
1) Sprinkle the bottom of a large, heavy-based pot sitting on medium heat with the brown sugar.
2) Place the greengages inside with the cutting surfaces facing down.
3) Wedge the rosemary sprigs in, close the lid and allow the fruit to caramelize for about 15 mins
4) Have a peek beneath one of them to judge the time remaining.
5) Once they’re nicely golden and caramelized, stir in the juices and zest.
6) Gently fold in the gelling sugar and turn the heat up to medium-high.
7) Add the vanilla pods, pop on the lid and allow the mixture to work up a boil.
8) Take the lid off once it’s reached a merry bubble. Bend over the pot and give it a deep inhale. Or two.
9) After 1 min, very gently, as not to break the fruit apart and right into a purée, stir the lot with a rubber spatula to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
10) Repeat this process for 3 more times, 1 min in between the gentle stirs.
11) After one last minute has passed after the last stir-through, take the pot off the heat.
12) Sterilize your jars with boiling water in between the stirs and get them ready to be filled up with loads of yum.
13) As soon as the jam is ready, transfer it into the jars and seal the lids immediately.
14) Allow the jam to cool off entirely (and set) inside the jars, then stash them away safely – don’t forget to put some effort into hiding one of them somewhere you’ll surely forget but conveniently will re-discover at the other end of the year. If you have a habit of swapping winter- and summer clothes, accessories or shoes in and out of easily accessible areas of your wardrobe… I unearthed the last jar stuck all the way down in my knee-high, warm and fuzzy wool-lined, sub-zero temperature winter hiking boots that spend most of the year in the remotest corner of my wardrobe and only come out… well, right about now~! Just food for thought~
By the way… greengages, at least over here, have a very short season (and supply, for that matter) right on the other side of the year, so a) I always make this part way, WAY ahead and hide a jar away for the winter and other emergencies and b) of course, I have a little cheat for you guys at the ready~ I tried this once and I can confirm that it works, but like any kitchen-shortcut, the original is always better!
Melt 100g fine baking sugar, allow to turn golden around the edges, add a glug of lemon and orange juice, 1 vanilla pod and 4 sprigs of rosemary, bubble for 10 mins, stir in a jar of the best store-bought chunky greengage jam you can get. Transfer it into a freshly sterilized jar, and there you have it. Don’t tell anyone though~!
And now, the star of the show, the one that quite literally holds everything up – the bread. Gluten-free, healthy as it gets, hearty and a perfect match for both the salmon and the jam… and for all the purists among you: a fantastic base for a knob of really good butter!
Gluten-Free Paleo Seedy Hazelnut & Almond Bread
100g Ground Almonds
100g Ground Linseeds
100g Sunflower Seeds, lightly toasted
100g Pecan Nuts, lightly toasted
100g Hazelnuts, lightly roasted and coarsely chopped/crushed
100g Pine Nuts, lightly toasted
50g Chia Seeds
25g Ground Hemp Seeds
25g Psyllium Husks
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
½ Tsp Tonka Bean, freshly grated
1 Pinch of Allspice
5 Large Organic Eggs
100ml Sunflower Oil – plus some extra for the tin
1) Preheat your oven to 160°C.
2) Place all of the nuts and seeds in a large mixing bowl.
3) Crack the eggs into a second bowl and lightly beat them while pouring in the oil in a steady stream.
4) Grab a wooden spoon and thoroughly combine the two inside the bowl holding the nut mixture.
5) Add the salt, soda and spices and keep at it until the lot comes together in a thick, slightly sticky dough.
6) If the mixture appears to be too crumbly for comfort, carefully work in a few drops of water at a time.
7) If the mixture turns out too wet, wait for 5 mins, then reevaluate. If it’s still too wet, work in a dusting of almond flour.
8) Lightly brush your loaf tin with a hint of oil.
9) Transfer the mixture into the tin and tap out the air pockets with a hearty whack or two.
10) Place the tin on the middle rack of your oven and leave it to its own devices for 50 mins.
11) Have a good look at the 45 min mark and, should the top be too dark for comfort, cover it with a sheet of tinfoil.
12) At the 50 min mark, carefully take the tin out and tap on the bottom. If you get a hollow knocking sound in return, you’re done. If the knock sounds rather… “solid” for lack of a better term, pop it back in for 10 more mins and repeat the test.
13) Once it’s done, allow it to cool off to room temperature and properly set while still inside the tin – if you’re a bit like me, resisting the aroma of freshly baked bread and roasted nuts might turn out to be a bit of a challenge. Consider this time a lesson in patience because if you take it out too early and try to slice it you’ll be facing a pile of nutty crumbles rather than a slice of bread.
All that’s left now, is basically… get the coffee and/or tea on the way, give the salmon a proper rub-down to remove the grainy brine and everything else involved, crack open a jar of the jam, slice the bread and put everything on the table along with every- and anything you can think of to make you and your loved ones properly enjoy the beginning of a new year~!