I'm always happy to discover a new Sgt Windflower mystery because, as well as catching up with a character that I have grown fond of - a mild-mannered, food-loving Canadian mountie with Cree heritage who lives in the quiet backwaters of Newfoundland with his firecracker of a fiancée, Sheila - I also know that I am going to get a selection of lovely recipes to recreate for the #readcookeat challenge. I must have bookmarked at least a dozen dishes from the last book in the series, A Long Ways From Home (click through to read my review), and I'm looking forward to trying them all. If there's one thing Sgt Windflower has a wealth of ingenious recipes for, it's fish, so that was where I started. This dish instantly leapt out at me because it sounded like family-friendly comfort food that would be quick and simple to prepare but also tasty and relatively healthy.
p138 "I think someone else is glad to see you," said Sheila as Lady finally settled down in between them. She almost purred when they both rubbed and patted her.
"What's that delicious smell?" asked Windflower.
"It's a salmon casserole", said Sheila. "Pour us a glass of wine and if you're hungry, I'll dish up."
"I'm so hungry," said Windflower, "I could eat a ..." He almost said moose, but didn't want to rekindle that discussion. So he simply added "a lot".
He got the white wine out of the fridge and poured them both a glass. Sheila put the salad on the table first. Windflower could smell Sheila's special homemade raspberry vinaigrette on the mixed greens. The she put the salmon casserole on a pot holder on the table. It was topped with golden brown breadcrumbs. When Sheila put the slotted spoon into the dish, it released a puff of steam and spices that almost made Windflower go weak at the knees.
She scooped up a large portion for him and a smaller portion for herself , along with a double spoonful of steamed broccoli. Windflower was in food heaven as he tasted the chunks of salmon and potato in the creamy sauce. He was silently engaged in his task and didn't come up for air until he passed his plate over to Sheila for seconds.
"That is sum good b'y", he said. "What is that flavouring you used?"
"That's tarragon," said Sheila. "It goes well with the salmon, doesn't it?"
I didn't have tarragon so I substituted it for sage, which I'm sure Sgt Windflower would have approved of too ! I suspect Sheila's recipe was much more compact, with a denser layer of salmon and potatoes for her to dig into with a slotted spoon, by my version still tasted delicious.
3 salmon fillets
6 florets of frozen broccoli
30cl crème fraîche
1tbsp sage or tarragon
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used crushed savoury crackers)
handful of grated cheese
Chop the potatoes into small pieces and boil them in salted water for ten minutes until the point of a knife goes through easily but they're still firm. Chop the salmon fillets into large chunks and lay the uncooked fish in an ovenproof dish, interspersed with the broccoli.
Drain the potatoes and pour them into the dish.
Pour the liquid crème fraîche into the dish and scatter spoonfuls of marscapone in various places, pushing it below the potato and broccoli.
Scatter with crispy breadcrumbs.
Toss a handful of grated cheese over the top.
Bake at 180° in a preheated oven for 40 minutes until the breadcrumbs and cheese are golden brown and check the salmon is cooked through before serving.
In the book, Sheila served this with salmon but it's a complete dish that is perfect on its own too. Lovely warming winter comfort food that the whole family will enjoy.
Adding to the #readcookeat linky over at Chez Maximka.