I was inspired this week by the excellent (albeit rather pricey) dinner we had at The Bowery earlier in the week, where my lovely Slovenian companion chose turbot and I wished I had chosen the same. So I made my way to the fish-shop and bought a rather large turbot, which was so spectacular that I thought I wouldn't complicate things too much. In a minimalist frame of mind, I bought a big round aubergine, some small white turnips (revenge at last....), white courgettes and some plums. I'm expecting some kind of Scandi-chic extravaganza as a result - right, better go and watch some Wallander to get in the right frame of mind.........
I got inspired by the Brussels weather—yes, that can happen. On this very day,it was all of a sudden clear that there was no return anymore. We were going towards colder days. I don’t know if it is because the body needs fat when it’s cold or because the dish reminds me of warm days by the Mediterranean, but in the first days of autumn, I always feel an urge for aioli. And then not just the garlicky mayo, but the Nicean dish with white fish and fresh vegetables that you eat with it.
When it comes to aioli, I like mine made from olive oil only. I cheated and used an egg yolk as a starter. The real way it to crush a number of cloves in a mortar and then bind the oil pounding them with the pestle. In addition, I poured the oil too fast. I’ve always thought it should be possible to pour all the oil in at once and then create the slow addition of it to the yolk by very small movements. I didn’t but it split anyhow. If that happens, you start over with half a teaspoon Dijon mustard, which I did and soon I hand a nice, salty, fatty mayo.
My friends Magnus&Cissi always used to make whole, oven-baked turbot with fried bacon and red wine sauce. Given that Hazel—in a true British manner—thinks that bacon is the best spice, it would have been the obvious hit. But on the other hand, there was no bacon in the fridge and, in addition, red wine sauce might have been an over-kill with the aioli. But I did bake the turbot—not whole, but in two pieces—and the skin did come off nicely afterwards.
I prepared the turnips and cut nice pieces of the aubergines and the courgettes and fried the whole lot in olive oil. When the two latter were ready, I kept them warm and poured some stock into the pan to braise the turnips for another ten minutes. Then it was time to serve. Scandi-chic? I don’t know. It’s for you to judge. There were at least large empty white spaces in my plate… And if that is not enough for them being Scandi-chic in these days, please note that there are no women in the picture (in good new IKEA style).
If these half empty, much whitish plates were Nordic, my dessert was not so. Sometimes during all of this, I made pie dough. I know, a plum pie is not very high cuisine, but it is quite good, especially if you, as I did, burn it slightly, so you get the right, fudgy candy-like taste. Hope you liked it, darling…