A welcome and precious escape home to the wonderful freshness of my Wiltshire countryside home for the weekend. After a day embracing the beginning of December and with scarfs wrapped tightly around our chilly necks, my sister, mum and I headed home to a blushing fire and dinner as darkness landed.
However….not without entertainment. As realisation hit that we’d forgotten to pick the allotment parsnips for supper, a comical scene unfolded. My sister (with iphone torch) mum (dressed unsuitably in fur and boots) and myself with makeshift garden fork attempted to scavenge the stubborn homegrown parsnips from the depths of their cosy blankets in the tightly packed allotment soil like thieves. Covered suitably in mud and with freezing hands, the kitchen beckoned and dinner tasted even the more delicious as a consequence….
- 3-4 large parsnips, peeled
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 black peppercorns
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 2 large knobs of butter
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Grating of nutmeg
- Handful skinned hazelnuts
- 3 seabass fillets
- Green vegetable of choice- green beans, curly kale, wilted spinach..
- Preheat the oven to 190°C. Cut at least one of your parsnips into long chunks for roasting. Drizzle with oil, season and roast in the oven for 30 minutes tossing half way through. After this time, drizzle with honey and return to the oven for 10 minutes or so until crisp.
- Meanwhile, for the puree, chop the remaining parsnips into chunks. Place them into a saucepan and cover with ¾ milk and ¼ water- just enough to cover. Add 2-3 black peppercorns, bay leaf and the whole sprig of rosemary. Bring to the simmer (being careful the milk doesn’t bubble over) and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until really tender when pierced with a knife.
- Once tender, drain reserving the cooking liquor and puree in a processor with plenty of seasoning, a knob of butter and add a splash of cooking milk to loosen until your liking. Add a grating of nutmeg and keep warm while you fry the seabass.
- Heat a frying pan until hot and toast the hazelnuts for a few minutes. Add a splash of oil and fry for a further few minutes until fragrant. Remove from the heat and lightly crush or chop the hazelnuts. Set aside with the hazelnut oil.
- Add a splash more oil to the pan. Score the skin side of your seabass fillets to prevent them curling up and season well. Fry in the hot pan for about 3 minutes on the skin side until crisp and then turn for the final minute.
- Add a knob of butter to the pan and a squeeze of lemon and baste the fish. Let the butter brown a little as it turns nutty and delicious- beurre noisette.
- To serve, divide each plate with a spoonful of puree and top with some green beans, kale or spinach. Place the fish on top with a spoonful of the beurre noisette and add a handful of the roasted parsnips. Finally, scatter over the hazelnuts and a drizzle of their oil and enjoy!