Thursday, 5 March 2009

brasied celery, fennel and broccoli with grilled mackerel



today, i shall mainly be eating leftovers.
i have the bread rolls for breakfast, slathered with crème fraiche. weird if you’re english, very normal if you’re a yugo. (oh those saturday mornings of brown bread still warm from the market, full of crunchy seeds and crackly crust, with mileram bought from peasant women with white coats and hair tied back in scarves. with pressed ham and homemade jam and honey from hercegovina for afters.)
i have the carrot cake mid-morning, not because i am hungry but because i can’t bear to have something nice in my lunchbox and not eat it before 11. always before 11, unless it’s just something boring. though even boring things i can get excited about if they have something tasty in them. salads with buffalo mozzarella, for example, or the crunchy vegetable coleslaw i made once.
this week’s abel and cole delivery has a bunch of celery in it that looks so green and so fresh, and nothing like the pallid, pastel green stuff you see in supermarkets. this is the colour of granny smith apples, with bushy leaves on top. i also have a surplus of fennel and broccoli, thanks to some enthusiastic weekend buying. so I do a sort of a braise, if you can call it that. i fry the celery and fennel in a pan in a mix of olive oil and butter until slightly browned and beginning to soften. it takes at least 15 minutes on medium heat. no point in rushing it, i think. although the veg will get soft when you add the stock, it’s nice to get the caramelised bits, especially the tiny escaped fronds of celery that go almost completely brown and sweet.
anyway, you add the stock and let it simmer until the vegetables are soft. i first did it covered and then because i put too much stock in, uncovered it to let it reduce. finally I stirred in some crème fraiche. think sour cream would be nice too. i didn’t do much to the mackerel except season it, lay it skin side up in a pan and grill it for a few minutes. that’s it. didn’t even oil it – it’s oily enough as it is.
we eat and watch a programme about the sardine run off the coast of south africa and it’s making the mackerel stick in my throat a bit. especially at the bit where you see the sardines feeding at night, their little mouths open swallowing plankton, finally safe from a computer game-like attacks by sharks, gannets and whales.


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