Halibut wrapped in prosciutto with sauce vierge and roasted leeks

As a memorable autumnal end to my home-grown tomato season, I incorporated the last of my super-sweet Sungold tomatoes into sauce vierge. A perfect match for white fish,  I brought the sauce together with halibut fillets wrapped in prosciutto. The delicate white fish and salty, sweet ham delivered harmonious and balanced flavours with this tangy and refreshing sauce. This sauce also made the most of my remaining fresh basil and chervil of the season and the dish included another of my incredibly successful Allium crops of this year – leeks, roasted until soft and succulent.

I am the Red Queen (again)

“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

                      The Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass

I revisit this quote of my first blog post which I tentatively posted a year ago this week.  A first anniversary seems like a good time to reflect on this first year of blogging.  Given the flavour of the frenetic activity of the first post, one thing certainly hasn’t changed, I still feel like The Red Queen and this is reflected in my inability to post regularly over the last couple of months.  Time to get back on track, or at least try…

First ‘Blogiversary’

When my nascent blog emerged, I was sure it would function well as my much needed recipe and garden diary and it does. I have used it regularly to remind myself of recipes I would otherwise never have noted down and repeated.  It is a huge time saver on that front.

Beyond some friends and family, I thought very few others were likely to read it, or even find it online.  I am usually pretty reluctant to push its presence, preferring to let readers discover it organically / by accident and lift and lay it as they please. So, somewhat surprisingly, I have acquired about 600 subscribers through various means: WordPress, Twitter and Facebook. Thank you all! Hardly viral, but respect to those tolerant readers willing to stick with my often lengthy and occasionally random digressions around food, foraging, recipes and beyond.

Without starting a blog, I would not have joined Facebook or Twitter and did so initially reluctantly in order to give those who want to subscribe through these social portals the option. My views on both continue to evolve.  I could live without Facebook, which I rarely use, beyond circulating my latest post. Someone once said to me if you were not on Facebook you were a nobody.  Well, like many of my friends who are not subscribers, I was actually perfectly content to be so before I joined and do not feel ‘whole’ having done so!

I like Twitter because it is easily tailored to focus on information exchange and I am grateful for the many foraging and food-related connections made and what I have learned as a result. I enjoy the constraint, brevity and breakneck pace of Twitter.

Blogging has given me a deeper insight into the world of professional cooking, foraging and food writing and has confirmed my initial thoughts that I want blogging to remain firmly a hobby – a way to relax and be slightly self-indulgent. In part, this is because I cannot expand beyond my current commitment to my writing and cooking. Having to sit down and write, or cook without the complete freedom I currently have to do or not do so as I please would take the soul and joy out of it for me.  I have a career I am very happy with that challenges me in different ways and this blog is a foil to that. I am also better qualified to do my job than to enter the professional foodie world.

Then there is the question of integrity regarding products and advertising. There is a fair bit of opportunity to test and review products distributed for free.  I have developed strong views on this over the last year and I will not promote or test products, gadgets, books or endorse businesses in any way except independently. I focus on products and services I buy and use. My opinions are my own and cannot be bought.  If I review a product, book, business, etc, favorably, I do so not to assist in its promotion but because I genuinely endorse the product or service.

I want to again thank all the kind bloggers who over the past year have nominated me for numerous blogging awards.  I am very grateful for the appreciation shown in this way and do feel somewhat guilty that although I always take time to give thanks for each award, I do not pass on the awards in the chain style they demand, something I do not want to impose on other bloggers. For this reason, I would prefer not to accept any blog awards in future, save to pass my thanks and a mention for any nomination, as before.

The best thing of all for me about this first year of blogging has been the wonderful community of other bloggers I have been able to connect with.  What a fine and diverse array of talented writers, cooks and photographers you are!  I have learned so many new recipes and tips from reading other blogs and exchanging comments with many enthusiastic, encouraging and supportive bloggers.  I have connected with writers that cover wider subjects than just food and have found refreshing and varied lifestyles and opinions that keep me greatly entertained and informed, so thank you all!

OK, back to business.  Halibut et al

Halibut wrapped in prosciutto with sauce vierge and roasted leeks 

I should really be sitting on the naughty step for buying halibut.  Unfortunately, it not being a fish I eat at all often, I only realised after my purchase that it was not the sustainable white fish choice I would usually make. Surely I can be forgiven for this rare slip up?

I have had a bumper leek crop this year, not least because, like the garlic, the leeks have been happily dangling their roots in the beds with newly added well-rotted manure.  The variety is, I think, Bandit, a beautiful and robust blue-green variety that seems happy to withstand our winter gales without turning black and ragged.

leeks

The leeks were trimmed, cleaned and blanched in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, refreshed in cold water and dried before being seasoned and placed in an oven (uncovered) at 200C for 30 minutes.  This gave them a soft texture and a delicate, roasted flavour.

halibut

With the leeks prepared and ready to go into the oven, time to deal with the halibut steaks. These were seasoned and wrapped in prosciutto. Simple.

parma ham

The wrapped fillets were pan-fried with butter, a couple of minutes a side, taking care the pan is not too hot or the ham (and butter) will burn.  These were then rested in a low oven (80C) for 5 minutes or so, giving time to prepare a quick sauce vierge, courtesy of my favoured traditional Michel Roux recipe.

Sauce vierge

This is such a simple yet wonderful sauce, one of my summer favourites with fish. Skinning the tomatoes, especially small varieties such as Sungold is a faff, but worth it for the correct texture. Score and drop in boiling water for 30 seconds before removing to make them easier to peel.

Ingredients

80g tomatoes, skinned and de-seeded

200 ml olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp. snipped basil leaves

2 tbsp. snipped chervil leaves

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

6 coriander seeds, crushed

salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Dice the skinned and de-seeded tomatoes and place in a bowl with the oil, lemon juice,  herbs, garlic and coriander seeds, season to taste.
  • Heat very slightly until it is just warm and serve over and around the fish.halibut 3halibut 2

While the recipe worked quite well with halibut, it is quite a delicate, subtle fish and the flavour did get a bit lost, especially with the prosciutto. The dish could  be improved by using a firmer, meatier and bolder-flavoured fish.  Monkfish would probably be the ideal choice.

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33 thoughts on “Halibut wrapped in prosciutto with sauce vierge and roasted leeks

  1. Happy First Anniversary! We shared many of the same thoughts when I started my blog. Mainly, would any one read this other than my Aunt and me. Hard to believe there are people from all over the globe now following. I’m sure you feel the same about your viewership. Love the look of this dish. The presentation, with the beautifully colored prosciutto, is very appealing. Your sauce sounds wonderful, too. This was a great dish and the perfect way to celebrate your blog’s birthday.

    • Thanks John. I do feel the same way, especially delighted that readers are from all over the world. Blogs like yours and the thoughtful comments you regularly make are exactly the rewards that help motivate me to keep posting, so thank you!

  2. Doesn’t seem like a year, it feels as though you’ve been testing our taste buds for ever with this splendid blog! Congratulations. On a simpler note, I quite often wrap white fish like sea bass and river cobbler [my favourite at the moment] in smoked bacon/bacon/ham and bake in oven. I am going to make your sauce. Great stuff!

  3. Well done on a year of blogging Tracey. I feel certain that your very large following is as much for your fascinating insights into ‘survival’ in a potentially bleak part of the UK, as it is for those delicious,and very professionally written recipes. I am proud to count you as a ‘blogging friend’, and hope that you stay around for as long as possible., even if you do get Independence!
    I agree about Twitter and Facebook, and I have still avoided the latter, despite the fact that it would significantly increase my readership.
    My very best wishes to you both, as always.
    Regards from Norfolk. Pete.

    • Thanks Pete, you are indeed a ‘blogging friend’, and although I haven’t had much time to read your varied posts lately, they have been variously thought-provoking, honest, entertaining and, on occasion, very funny, so thanks. I will keep going, although if we get independence, I may move to Norfolk! Facebook might increase your readership, but my experience is there is very little interaction – that comes from bloggers and to some extent Twitter. You made a good decision 🙂

  4. What an amazing feast of a dinner – using great, home-grown veg and herbs but it looks so professional! Loved reading your post as always and agree with the comments above, can totally understand why your blog is so popular.

  5. Congratulations on another wonderful post, and your 1 year anniversary. As well as loving your recipe, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the blogging process, as well as social networking in general. I agree with much of what you say and admire you for taking the plunge with Facebook and Twitter as well. Looking forward to another year learning about life in the Hebrides.

    • Thank you for your kind comments. I’m not really sold on Facebook in particular, but appreciate that others are, so happy to share my posts there. Our Hebridean life continues to evolve and we hope there will be lots of progress in the next year, hope to keep you posted 🙂

  6. Wow! When are you opening the restaurant? Congratulations on making it through the first year–you really have made a contribution. I love reading your VERY well-informed stuff, especially in such a delightful, cultural context I wish I knew much more intimately. Bravo. Ken

    • Thank you so much! No restaurants planned – I barely have time for blogging at the moment unfortunately, but your encouragement is appreciated and makes all the difference and will spur me on to get back to it, now I am home from another work trip away.

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