01 May 2007

Dinner Munching (Part II) - Fish and Spinach

Sorry for the bad photograph, I'm still learning how to take photos in low-lighting with my camera without it appearing grainy or blur. It certainly doesn't help that no matter how I try, spinach puree cannot be made to look appetising.

However, it was the spinach puree recipe that I spotted first in Damien Pignolet's French. Instead of being enriched with cream and plenty of butter, transforming spinach into something absolutely heavenly but unbelievably unhealthy, it simply required pear puree.

Damien Pignolet recommended eating this with steamed or pan-friend fish, a piece of advice I took up but looked to Jane Lawson's Cocina Nueva for. Her Almond Crusted Hake piqued my interest, but was tweaked to include ground hazelnut instead of ground almond. It was breaded in the afternoon and chilled until just before serving where it needed 3 minutes (and then some) on each side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Even the spinach puree could be made in the afternoon and reheated just before serving.

This was especially useful because it left me plenty of time to prepare dessert, which required much more time, patience and effort.

I quite like the spinach puree and agree that it goes well with fish. Being a little fruity, it was definitely different and possibly a great way to get children to eat their greens by actually making spinach tasty, without negating its health benefits with cream or butter. The fish had the most wonderful aroma while being fried, and a delightfully earthy hazelnut taste.

Unfortunately I have learnt to be a little smarter and informed about my choice of fish for future use. As all the fish were labelled in Chinese, I had no idea what kind of fish I was purchasing and relied only on price to differentiate quality. I would have preferred a more tender, flaky fish to go with the puree. Embarassingly, I still don't know what I had served my girlfriends!

Spinach and Pear Puree
From Damien Pignolet's French
Serves 2-4

100g pear, such as Beurre Bosc or Packham, peeled and cored
400g spinach, well-washed and coarse stalks discarded
salt and freshly ground pepper
a few gratings of nutmeg
2-3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
a few drops of lemon juice

Boil pear until soft (10-20 minutes) then drain.
Boil spinach in plenty of quite salty water for 5 minutes until very soft.
Drain well and press out most of the moisture with the back of a spoon- the spinach should not be too dry.
For the smoothest result, puree the pear and spinach in a blender rather than a food processor.
Add the oil and season to taste, adding the lemon juice to freshen (do this only just before serving if you're preparing this in advance).
This very special recipe is adapted from Michel Guerard's Cuisine Minceur, a book dedicated to 'lean cuisine', as we would call it today. I like to serve it with steamed or pan-fried fish, and it is also excellent with roast partridge or guinea fowl.

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