Thursday, 15 September 2011

Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta & Lemon and Poppy Seed Bread

I must apologise for not blogging last week.  I was back at work for a week for a large exhibition and conference, a week sandwiched between both my daughters’ birthdays and one with little sleep thanks to my baby boy.  I must admit to thoroughly enjoying my time back at work, and despite missing my wee ones, sleep deprivation and being a logistical nightmare, it confirmed what I already knew, that I need a balance in my life that includes my job.
It was a week filled with press briefings, book launches, conference lectures and a surprise visit to our stand by one of the people I helped organise evacuation from Libya for earlier this year (who brought my two rather lovely scarves from said unstable North African state).  It was nice to be part of the buzz and to see a lot of hard work coming to fruition. 
With the birthdays topping and tailing the week, I had a lot of cake making to do ahead of the joint birthday party and spent every evening of the conference week making cupcakes (in various shades of pink) a giant butterfly cake and mini muffins.
Given my failure to post last week, this week, I will give you two recipes that I think complement each other nicely...
The first can hardly even be considered a recipe and is something I first made while on holiday on the west coast of Scotland after a visit to a smokehouse in the back garden of a fisherman in the village of Shieldaig.  I make it frequently as it is something even my fussy little ladies will eat; it takes minutes and is totally delicious.  Served with a herby green salad and some of my Lemon and Poppy Seed bread, it’s near on perfect – Yum!
I am very lucky to have a weekly visit from a “fishman” in a van who comes straight from Abroath (just down the coast) to sell his delicious fish, so don’t have to rely on pre-packed or long-distance fish and for this I am eternally grateful.

Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta
Ingredients (for two hungry people)
200g Hot Smoked Salmon
250g Pasta
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice of Half a Lemon
Simply cook your pasta as per the packet instructions and flake the salmon through it adding the olive oil, lemon juice and a good amount of black pepper. That’s it - told you it was easy.

Lemon & Poppy Seed Bread
This recipe is adapted and converted from a recipe I found in a charity cookbook produced by The International Women’s Club of Moscow, produced, I think, in the early 1990s.  I can’t remember where I got this book but can only assume, given its origin, it must have been through work. While the original recipe is for a sweet loaf and includes fruit, I first made my version of this lemon scented bread to have on the table with the Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta recipe above but I since discovered it is also very nice for smoked salmon sandwiches and even the humble tuna sandwich.  It is also very good for sweet French toast once it loses its freshness and for toast for breakfast with some Nutella.   You can also simply omit the lemon for a delicious white loaf.
Ingredients (for two loaves)
200ml milk
2 Teaspoons Salt
4 Tablespoons Sugar
25g Margarine
1 Cup (250ml) Water
750g Strong White Flour
1 Sachet Instant Yeast (7g)
Grated Zest of a Lemon
Poppy Seeds to Top
In a pan scald the milk, remove from the heat and then stir in the margarine, salt, sugar and the water.
In a large bowl, sieve in half the flour and mix the yeast in with a fork or your fingers.
Add the liquid to the flour and mix until smooth and elastic. 
Sieve in the remaining flour to make a soft dough – it is easiest to do this with your hand with a rotational motion.  If it is too sticky, add a little more flour.
Turn the dough out onto a flat, flour-dusted surface and sprinkle the lemon zest on the top.  Kneed the dough, incorporating the zest, until smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to its bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave for around 10 minutes.
Cut the dough in two pieces with an oiled knife and shape into your desired shape – I tend to use a double-decker pleat or a simple round.
Place on a lined baking tray, remembering that the dough will more than double in size.   Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place for an hour to an hour and a half.  (With half an hour to go, preheat your oven to 190 oC  (170 oC fan)).
Mix a beaten egg with a teaspoon of water and paste the top of the loaves before baking in the oven for around 35 minutes. 

My little ladies helping to make bread - very messy!

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