My absolute favourite cookery challenge is the #readcookeat linky, over at Chez Maximka, because it combines two of my passions : trying new recipes and reading. I can now no longer read a book without turning over the corners of the pages that mention dishes that sound interesting ! If you click on my #readcookeat label at the bottom of this post, you'll see all the literary-inspired meals that we've already eaten here at The Madhouse - there are already 44 and I have about a dozen more bookmarked !
As I particularly love globecooking and discovering exotic cuisine from around the world, I especially love the novels that are set in faraway places, so the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries by Mike Martin, set in Newfoundland, are perfect. There are five books in the series so far : The Walker on the Cape, The Body on the T, Beneath The Surface, A Twist Of Fortune and the recently released A Long Ways From Home. (Click through to read my reviews.) Sgt Windflower loves his food and the books have already inspired several recipe posts here on my blog : a roundup of Newfoundland cuisine, Newfoundland Raisin Molasses Bread and Smothered Salmon.
I haven't even got round to reading to A Long Ways From Home yet - my to-be-read pile is growing by the week, I have to stop buying books ! - but I was delighted to get a sneak peek of one of Sgt Windflower's dinners directly from the author. I was honoured to receive an email from Mike Martin (who is just as lovely as his character, Sgt Windflower) which said : "Thought about you when I was writing this piece...."
He came back in and dried off Lady as best as he could. She finished the job with a vigorous shake that sent a spray everywhere. But nothing could dampen Windflower and Sheila’s mood at being reunited.
“It’s fish, but it smells like curry too,” said Windflower. “What is it?”
“Sit down and pour the wine,” said Sheila.
Windflower took the bottle of Riesling out of the fridge, got the wine goblets and poured them each a glass. He sat down expectantly at the kitchen table.
“It’s Arctic char with a curry sauce,” said Sheila. “One of the councillors was up north in Nain and he picked up some char for everybody. This is our share,” she said as she laid a thick fish steak on Windflower’s plate. She poured an extra ladleful of the curry sauce over the fish and the aroma rose in Windflower’s nostrils. He almost felt drunk, it was so spicy and powerful. He took a moment, but only a moment, to savour that experience. Then he took a forkful of the fish.
“Perfect,” he said. “This is perfect.”
Sheila scooped up a large spoonful of risotto from another pan and added it to his plate along with some steamed broccoli. Then she took a smaller portion for herself and sat to watch Windflower eat. For her, this was pure entertainment. To see how much enjoyment and pleasure her guy, her man, got out of his food, was absolute joy to her.
As usual, there was little commentary from Windflower, other than what sounded like doves cooing, until he had finished his main course, and then his second helping.
“That was great, Sheila, absolutely great,” said Windflower. “I didn’t know you made curry. I haven’t had curry since the last time I was over at Doc Sanjay’s.”
“That’s where I got the curry recipe,” said Sheila. “Repa was kind enough to give me her family recipe and some of the last of her Bengali curry paste.”
“That was the sharp tang I tasted,” said Windflower. “It burns your mouth a little, but it’s so worth it. And the risotto was so smooth and tasty.” Windflower went over and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
Well, I couldn't not try it, could I ?! I did have to replace the Arctic char with salmon, because I couldn't get hold of it here, but it was still very nice !
Salmon with curry sauce
salmon or Arctic char fillets
rosemary rock salt
Greek yogurt (or coconut cream)
Place the fish on a baking tray and sprinkle with freshly ground salt and pepper. I had some rosemary rock salt, which gave it some extra flavour. Bake in the oven for half an hour or so, until cooked through.
Now, any chef worth her salt would cook a curry paste from scratch, but as Sheila was hapy to use some ready-prepared paste from Dr Sanjay's wife, I had no qualms about using some curry flavour pots as a shortcut ! I put some coconut cream (but Greek yogurt would be fine too) into a saucepan, plopped in the curry pots and heated it until the first bubbles appeared, then turned down the heat until the curry paste was completely dissolved.
Sheila made a risotto with a side serving of broccoli to go with it, but as I had some leftover cooked rice and carrots in the fridge, we made do with that instead.
I have to admit, I wasn't sure about the combination of salmon and curry, but I bow to Sheila and Sgt Windflower's superior knowledge - it was lovely and made a nice change.
Linking up with the #readcookeat linky at Chez Maximka