Smoked Salmon Pasta and an Accidental Herb
The introduction to one of my favourite books on medieval art begins with this: "There is luck in artistic creation, no less than in scientific discovery." I will not linger on the argument which might ensue if we examine those words. Instead, let me show you the luck which prompted a lovely recent meal.
The appearance of fronds of dill in unexpected places has been a feature of our garden for at least a couple of years now. Some of it is pulled out and consigned to the compost bin (whence it most likely spreads into the garden again). Returning from our French holiday, a fine specimen growing in the carrot bed could not be ignored. Eventually I will take some to add distinctive flavour to New York deli style pickles but its first use was in a quick, full of flavour, summery dinner (oh, yes, that's 'tea' to all my Facebook friends from Yorkshire).
This deserves some reasonably decent slices of smoked salmon. Trimmings or bog standard supermarket offerings can be left for something else. For two people you'll need 120 grams of something which has had a touch of oak, whisky, beech or beetroot (you agonise on that one). Roughly cut or tear it and set aside for a few minutes. Beat together two egg yolks, 100 ml of double cream and a good grind of black pepper. Dill goes in to this mix - a good handful pulled from the thicker stalks. I thought it needed a few herby mates and chopped a bit of basil and oregano as well.
I don't frown on cheese with fish (haddock rarebit is a favourite) but here I decided against a grating of Parmesan or the like.
You are near to completion if you have chosen fresh pasta. Dry or fresh, you need about 90 grams per person. Penne was my choice. I have more important things in my life which will stop me knocking on your door in dismay if you choose a different variety. Cook in plenty of boiling salted water. One last gift from our garden was added a minute before the pasta was ready. The snap peas had produced their first pods and just had to be given a walk-on part at the very least.
The peas and pasta are drained BUT you must reserve a ladle of the hot liquor. Tip the pasta and peas back into the pan and add the cream, egg and herb mix as well as that patiently waiting fish. Pour in enough water from the ladle and stir to make a sauce which coats everything.
Unless you fancy a little crusty bread for extra texture and bulk, you're there. Dill is a fairly insistent flavour but goes well in this combination. This dish sings of grassy green goodness from the herbs which lighten the indulgent fish and creamy sauce.
No real luck needed here and it will be ready in a much shorter time than any true artistic creation requires. You will, however, be rewarded with abundant flavour and, if you mop up with some bread, a very clean bowl.
Keep busy. And concentrate on some cooking if you will, please... let's not waste time choosing between 'whence' and 'from whence'.