A Life In Food – Recipes – Gluten Free Salmon Fishcakes with Beetroot & Radish Salsa

salmon fishcakes with beetroot salsa

Gluten Free Salmon Fishcakes with Beetroot & Radish Salsa

Better late than never!  Here is the promised second beetroot recipe, not exactly focused on beetroot but nevertheless, the little purple chaps are definitely in there somewhere.

This a variation on several Italian themed fishcake recipes using polenta.  I have seen a version that uses salt cod, also soaking the polenta in hot water and including in the main mix (in Maxine Clark’s Flavours of Tuscany). Nigella Lawson’s recipe recommends the use of tinned salmon over fresh fish, and let’s be honest, we should be grateful for some way of using the otherwise inedible pink tinned mush (though I’ve found it goes well on rye bread with watercress if you use just the first 6 ingredients below)… Continue reading

Lemon Polenta Cake with Amaretto Syrup

lemon polenta cake

I never consciously intended to put a lot of gluten free recipes on this blog, but given that my partner is on a gluten free diet, inevitably a lot of them come up.  I’ve mentioned before the awful commercially produced gluten free versions of wheat products, and I think there is something to be said for avoiding these duplicates and just incorporates the best food available that fits within the dietary requirements.  In fact, this could be extended to any diet – why would a vegetarian want to eat a plastic sausage when there are so many fantastic vegetables available all year round? I once ate a nut replica of cheese in a vegan restaurant – at first it was quite a novelty, but when they brought out an entire ‘cheese’ course with three nutty pasty varieties, I was tempted to hide it in a fellow diners handbag…

So this is a recipe that is gluten free, but has not been adapted – it has always been gluten free.  There are a variety of recipes around the web for lemon polenta cake, which is a traditional italian recipe, but all generally involve the same quantities of butter, caster sugar and ground almonds (around 200-250g), half as much polenta (100g), 3 eggs, baking powder and a lemon syrup poured over the cake at the end.  Variations are plentiful – Nigella keeps it simple and includes syrup, River Cafe double the size (with a touch of vanilla and salt) and puts the lemon in the cake instead of as a syrup, Nigel Slater halves the size (emphasis on a light and fluffy texture) and fills with cream, others increase the lemonyness to the bounds of decency and load it with alcohol.  I’ve tried to take a little something from all of them, and include a little twist of my own – Amaretto liquor, which brings out the sweet almond flavour (especially if you are using freshly ground almonds).

Ingredients

200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds (if you have the time and inclination, you would benefit from grinding your own using blanched almonds)
100g fine polenta (if you can only get coarse, you could grind it finer in a clean coffee grinder or food processor)
1 tsp baking powder (gluten free, of course)
zest of 2 lemons (also juice for syrup)
3 eggs
a few drops of lemon extract
pinch of salt

Syrup

juice of 2 lemons
4 tbsp Amaretto (I use Lazzaroni Amaretto, which is flavoured by soaking with Amaretti biscotti, also gluten free)
125g icing sugar

  1. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment and grease the sides with butter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C/gas mark 4.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and creamy.
  4. Combine the almonds, polenta, lemon zest and baking powder and add gradually alternating with an egg, and beating thoroughly.  If you want a lighter texture, you can separate out the yolks and whites, add the yolks only at this stage, then whip the whites separately until not quite stiff and fold in at the end.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, then hold the side and tap the underside to level out the mixture.
  6. Bake for around 40 minutes – the cake will shrink away from the edge when it is done.  Cool in the tin on a wire rack.
  7. Make the syrup by warming the icing sugar, lemon juice and amaretto together until clear.
  8. Prick the cake all over with a skewer or cake tester, then pour over the syrup and leave to cool.
  9. Remove the cake from the tin then turn upside down onto a plate (so all the holes are at the bottom and the syrup will start to move back through the cake).
  10. Serve with clotted cream and grated lemon zest.

Tips & Confessions

– I didn’t separate out the yolks and whites – it was still light and fluffy (I did beat everything quite thoroughly though).
– I couldn’t get fine polenta, and I didn’t grind it.  There was no discernible grittiness, and tasted great.
– 4tbsp of Amaretto is a guess, I think I just chugged the bottle into the mix a few times, try more or less to taste.

Golden Manchego & Polenta Tomatoes

Polenta tomatoes
In the spirit of Nigel Slater’s programme last night on soft and crisp food textures, this is a great recipe that combines the winning combination of tomato and basil with that most desirable of things – crispy cheese.  You know when cheese pools in the bottom of the grill pan and forms that delicious hard disc of salty cheesiness, the kind of stuff that wars could be started over?  Well that’s what you’re getting on each of these tomato slices. The tomatoes cook down and intensify in flavour, the cheese bubbles away and the polenta soaks up all of the flavour from everything else and seals it into a crunchy coating. Just fabulous.  I last made them in Spain, so Manchego cheese seemed the right thing to use, but you could also use a firm goats cheese, or even a crumbly English cheese like Lancashire, Cheshire or Wensleydale.  Ideal for when you need to cook something both vegetarian and gluten free.

INGREDIENTS

6 tomatoes
250g coarse polenta
Manchego cheese (or alternatively a firm goats cheese)
Basil
1 egg
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

 

  1. Cut the tomatoes into slices – try to keep them uniform, put the ends aside and use them in a salsa instead.
  2. Put the tomatoes in a colander over a bowl with 2tsp salt and leave for around 20 minutes until liquid has formed in the bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the manchego cheese into small squarish slices around two thirds the size of the tomato slices. Set aside as many single basil leaves as there are slices of tomato.
  4. Season the polenta with pepper only (the tomatoes will already have enough salt) and put into a dish, whisk the egg and place in another bowl next to the polenta. Put a grill rack to the other side of the polenta dish.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200 C and dry the tomatoes on some kitchen towel.
  6. In one motion, dip each tomato in the egg, then into the polenta on one side only, then place on the rack.
  7. Place a basil leaf on each tomato slice, followed by a slice of cheese:tomatoes ready for the cheese
  8. Brush over with the remaining egg (I didn’t have a brush, so had to just fling the egg in the general direction of the tomatoes, but they still came out fine).
  9. Scatter more polenta generously over the tomatoes, then tap the grill rack to dislodge any loose grains.
  10. Transfer the tomatoes to a lightly oiled oven tray or baking tray, then drizzle olive oil over the top.
  11. Cook in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes are golden brown (you can finish off under the grill briefly to add some colour).
Serve hot with aioli and big smiles.