This delicious dish of smoked salmon ribbons on potato cakes with a flavour packed herb creme fraiche was the starter in the UCOOK Christmas feast I posted about yesterday. Its the perfect small snack to serve your guests that takes the edge off hunger without filling them up before the main meal. The recipe comes from renowned chef Franck Dangereux from the Foodbarn and it will be a winner this summer or winter if you live in the Northern Hemisphere.
There were three other impressive side dishes that came with the feast and I’m going to share the recipes below. Franck comes from the South of France so they are injected with Provencal flavours and perfect for a summery Christmas or any eating occasion really.
GREEN ASPARAGUS WITH BUTTER AND ALMONDS
I was blown away by how delicious this very simple dish was and I can see it featured on many a menu in my future. The dressing of sliced almonds gently fried in butter (before it goes brown) and poured over the blanched asparagus is delicious. A good grating of fresh parmesan finishes this off perfectly. Franck is a chef that is incredibly liberal with butter and of course, we all know what butter does.
Recipes – serves 4 – 6
- 340g Asparagus
- 30g Flaked almonds
- 25g Grated Parmesan
Fill a large pot with water and 3 pinches of salt. Bring to the boil over a high heat.
While your water is coming to the boil, trim the woody stems off the bottoms of the asparagus (roughly 2cm).
Add your asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 2-4 minutes (depending on the thickness and your preference). Taste to test and remember the asparagus will still cook a bit when removed from the pot so be careful of overcooking it. Drain on completion, season with salt & pepper and set aside.
Only make your almond butter when you are ready to serve. Melt 50-75g butter (quantity to your preference) in a pan over a low heat. Add as much as you feel, it is really up to you. Once melted, add your flaked almonds. Cook your almonds for 1-2 minutes until coated in butter, but still keeping their naturally pale colour. You don’t want them turning brown! Remove from the heat and set aside.
Put your cooked asparagus onto a beautiful serving platter. Spoon over your almond butter, sprinkle with the grated Parmesan, and add a few grinds of black pepper and some salt. Viola, a classic French side ready in minutes.
This is a classic vegetable stew that is quintessentially Southern French and is packed with flavour. Its also to eat the leftovers cold with bread.
Recipe – serves 4 – 6
- 1 Red pepper
- 1 Green pepper
- 1 Yellow pepper
- 1 Tomato
- 250g Aubergine
- 200g Courgette
- 1 Onion
- 4 Garlic clove
- 400g Whole peeled tomatoes
- 15g Basil
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
STEP 1 Peel and finely slice your garlic. Roughly dice the onion.
STEP 2 Ready a large pot (cast iron would be best) on medium heat with a generous glug of olive oil. Add your onion and garlic. Cover with the lid. Cook until fragrant and transparent, about 5-6 minutes. Stir occasionally. Then, turn your heat down to low before adding your whole peeled tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes. Cook until nicely reduced and a rich tomato base has formed about 13-15 minutes. Stir occasionally and remove from the heat on completion.
STEP 3 In the meantime, de-seed and dice up your peppers. Ready a large saucepan over medium heat with a generous drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add your peppers and fry until the edges turn golden. Season nicely with salt and pepper and allow them to cook for about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pan to a colander placed over a bowl and set aside. Do this to catch the oils from your veg.
STEP 4 In the meantime, dice your aubergine into cubes and slice the courgette into 2cm thick circles. Dice up your fresh tomato.
STEP 5 Return the pan with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add your aubergine with some seasoning. Cook until the aubergine has softened and is starting to caramelize, 10-15 minutes. Don’t shift it too much, you want a lot of contact with the pan to get it nice and brown CHEF’S NOTE: An aubergine is a very thirsty vegetable – it sucks up a lot of oil so don’t be alarmed if your oil gets soaked up! Remove from the pan to your colander with the peppers.
STEP 6 Lastly, return the pan to medium heat with a final drizzle of oil and add your diced courgette. Season further. Cook until they are slightly browned on the edges, but still crunchy. This should take 5-6 minutes. Taste to test if the seasoning is to your liking. Drain into your colander on completion. CHEFS TIP: The reason you cook the vegetables separately is to ensure they all get evenly cooked and the colours are retained. Reserve your oil for later – it is liquid gold.
STEP 7 Add your veg to your onion and tomato base, along with the fresh tomato. Stir to combine and return to a low-medium heat with the lid on. Cook together until the veggies have softened into the tomato and the right consistency has been reached, about 20 minutes. Remove the lid every so often to allow it to breathe and to give it a stir. In the meantime, rinse and roughly chop up your basil.
STEP 8 Assess the thickness of your ratatouille. If your ratatouille needs further reduction, turn up the heat for the last few minutes and cook with the lid off. Should it need extending, simply add a bit of water. When ready, remove the pot from the heat. Stir through your chopped basil and add the oils from the drained veg back to the pot. Stir to combine and season to taste. You are ready to serve.
CHICKPEA & LENTIL SALAD WITH MINT & PARSLEY
“A Southern French feast table is not complete without this salad. It was brought in by the “Maures” tribes in ancient times and has a slight northern African feel to it.” Franck Dangereux
Recipe – serves 6 – 8 as a side dish
- 2 tins Lentils
- 2 tins Chickpeas
- 2 Tomatoes
- 100g Baby tomatoes
- 30g Parsley
- 15g Mint
- 1 Red onion
- 1 Lemon
- 10ml Ground cumin
Drain your lentils and chickpeas over the sink. Finely chop your red onion. Dice up your large tomatoes. Quarter your baby tomatoes. Rinse and coarsely chop the parsley. Pick the leaves of mint and roughly slice them. Zest up some lemon.
In a large salad bowl, place 100ml olive oil, a generous amount of salt, some pepper, the cumin, and the juice and zest of your lemon (to your taste). Whisk together and taste to see if it is to your liking. Season further as you desire.
Add your drained chickpeas and lentils, the tomato, herbs, and onion and mix well until all the ingredients are well coated in your dressing. Season to taste and place in the fridge until serving.
SMOKED SALMON POTATO CAKES WITH HERBES CREAM & PINK PEPPERCORNS
Recipe – serves 4
- 400g Potatoes
- 3 Spring onion
- 10g Chives
- 8g Basil
- 100g Crème fraiche
- 120g Smoked salmon
- 15g Wild rocket
- 4g Pink peppercorns
- 1 Lemon
Halve your potatoes and place into a large pot of cold water. Place onto a medium heat and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes until they are almost cooked and not completely soft.
While that boils, rinse and finely chop your spring onions. Snip the chives, and rinse and coarsely chop the basil. Set aside until needed. Rinse your wild rocket and add the rocket only to a bowl.
After 30 minutes, remove the potatoes from the pot and allow to cool and rest on a plate for 10 minutes. When they are a manageable temperature, peel the skin off the potatoes with a small knife. Discard the skins.
Grate your potatoes on the large side of a grater into a tray, add the spring onions and a generous pinch of salt, and mix as little as possible to combine the ingredients (over mixing will release too much starch). Pack the grated potato mix down with your hands to create a dense square, about 2cm high and then divide the mixture into your number of servings.
Ready a bowl of water for your hands. Form the divided mixture into balls and press those balls into round cakes. The size of your potato cakes should be about the diameter of a mug. Place a large non-stick pan (or multiple pans) over medium-high heat and add enough sunflower oil to cover the base of the pan. When the oil is super hot, add the potato cakes and fry until deep golden on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Your edges should be nice and crispy. Depending on the size of your pan, do this in batches, adding extra oil in batches. Keep checking on them, that they are not catching.
While those fry, ready your herbed crème. To a bowl, add your crème fraiche, chives, basil, a generous pinch of salt and some fresh lemon juice (to your preference). Stir to combine – you want a nice spooning consistency. Add further lemon and salt to your taste. Slice up some lemon wedges for serving.
When your potato cakes have crisped up to your liking, remove them from the pan to a piece of paper towel. While they rest, prepare your salmon. Slice it up into even ribbons (if necessary). Crush up your peppercorns lightly – you don’t want them to be too fine.
Generously spoon your herbed crème onto each potato cake. Top each with some smoked salmon, some wild rocket and a generous sprinkling of your crushed pink peppercorns. Serve with some fresh lemon wedges
*This UCOOK Christmas Feast is available to pre-order until the 14th of December to be delivered to your house on the 22nd and ready for you to cook up a storm. Use the code #chefsamfeast to get 15% off.
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