Apologies – things have been a little manic here at Cooksister HQ lately, what with the go-live date for the H2Ope for Haiti charity raffle looming this Sunday while I am still trying to collate the master prize list; and getting the word out about the first ever South African Food Blogger Conference in Cape Town next month where I will be speaking. Oh, and all the normal stuff that takes up my time like doing my day job, maintaining a social life, hosting a Valentine's lunch, and preventing my house from disappearing under a mountain of laundry!!
So firgive my if I have been a little quiet, and if this post is a little frazzled.
Hands up – who ever feels inadequate as a food blogger? I read things on other blogs like "I never make the same meal twice!". Ummm…. really?? How lovely for you. I find myself returning over and over to the same aisles of the supermarket, buying the same things and preparing them in the same way because, frankly, after a day's work and 45 minutes commute each way, I just do not have the energy to whip up something innovative in the kitchen while my husband impatiently gnaws off his own hand in hunger.
I have also discovered that the room I was planning to use as my properly lit photo studio (the conservatory) is so ridiculously cold in winter that any food placed in there throws out such clouds of steam that you can't take a decent photo. Besides, after a minute in there my hands are so frozen that I struggle to operate the camera, and I end up with the ambient light of the kitchen and my best friend Photoshop. Which in turn makes the inscrutable folk at Tastespotting send me little curt rejection notes like "lighting". Thanks for that, people, but not all of us lead a life where we can photograph in natural daylight all the time! More than once I've had to resist the urge to post a pic of brown goop on a plate under yellowish light which they have deemed fit to post, next to my rejected pic and asking readers to guess which one was accepted and which one not.
Yes, it's been one of those weeks. Sorry.
Anyhooo. On Wednesday night I got home determined to make something I hadn't tried before and attempt to redeem my food blogging street cred. In my head I had a vision of olives and fish, and in my freezer I had some wild Alaskan salmon fillets. From such little acorns, great oaks grow.
I can't recommend the end result highly enough. I'm not sure why, but smashing the olives imparts a burst of flavour that the same olives whole, or neatly sliced, simply do not possess – just do it. Even Nick, who usually has to be coaxed like a reluctant witness at a Mafia trial to tell me what he thinks of a dish, was effusive and lavish with his praise.
Take that, Tastespotting! )
BAKED SALMON FILLETS WITH SMASHED OLIVES, FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY & GARLIC (serves 2)
2 portions of salmon fillet, skin on (or you can use other firm-fleshed fish)
about a dozed pitted green olives
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter, melted
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Prepare two parcels out of aluminium foil or baking paper. Lightly grease the base with a little olive oil.
Using a pestle and mortar, lightly crush the olives – you want them chunky rather than a paste. Add the chopped parsley, garlic and melted butter and mix well, season to taste with a little lemon pepper.
Place a piece of salmon in the centre of each foil parcel, skin side down. Spoon half the olive mix over each piece of fish and seal each parcel by folding the edges together over the top of the fish. Bake for 15 minutes.
Serve on fluffy couscous and green vegetables (I made savoy cabbage, runner bean and courgette stir-fry).