mustard-powder(full menu: prawn-and-potato cakes, sugar-spiced salmon with “chinese” hot mustard, roast courgettes, sauteed leaks in balsamic vinegar)

(raspberries and chocolate cake and cream to follow)

The ask here was an easy-to-chew-and-swallow FANCY BIRTHDAY FEAST in nice rich flavours. Main prep time is 30 mins, but potatoes shd be semi-boiled a good deal earlier and let cool (an hour before you eat minimum; ideally a lot longer, so they can dry nicely).

A large frying pan or skillet; a griddlepan or non-stick frying pan; a large pan (possibly two but can use the same one twice); a roasting dish; various mixing bowls; a chopping surface and knife; something ideally to blend or mince the ingredients of the prawn-and-potato cakes.

Salmon steaks or fillets (c.500 gms for 3 adults)
Prawns (as many as you can possibly imagine a nice bunch)

Potatos (4 large or 8 small, suitable type to end up fried)*
Spring onions (about 8)
Coriander (to taste: i like a lot)
Dill (to taste: ditto)


Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sesame oil (could be sunflower oil)

Ground ginger
Coleman’s Mustard Powder
Sweet chili sauce

(Note: start with Ci, some time before S-30)

Ai: chop courgettes once lengthwise, then in half across
Aii: douse in olive oil on a flat roasting tray or similar
Aiii: at S-25**, place in hot roasting oven for c.25 mins (check after c.15 to see if need turning)

Bi: chop leeks small
Bii: at S-15, melt butter in large pan, with slish of balsamic
Biii: turn low and add leeks; stir and allow to sautee quietly until soft — if you add salt this will occur quicker, but ideally add salt only to taste at the end

Ci: S-60 ish (MINIMUM; S-24 hours is also good) chop potatoes into smallish chunks, boil until not quite edibly soft
Cii: allow to cool and drain mash or mouli***
Ciii: S-20, chop or mince prawns; chop dill, coriander and spring onions a bit (or a LOT if the mouli isn’t workin)
Civ: mix everything up, with salt and pepper
Cv: on a cornflour-dusted surface, make into flattish patties
Cvi: at S-10, start to heat sesame oil in a frying pan
Cvii: when nice and hot, start to fry patties into cakes, doing both sides will richly brown****

Di: mix together half a spoonful each of ground ginger, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, sugar, salt, Coleman’s Mustard Powder
Dii: chunk the salmon to two-inch blocks; dredge it in the spice-mix until coated, let stand
Diii: make “chinese hot mustard”, equal parts mustard powder, sugar and warm water
Div: at S-6, place dusted salmon in a heated griddle or non-stick pan for 2-3 mins a side
Dv: the spice will blacken — don’t worry about that — it’s cooked really when it’s still moist and dark pink inside but some ppl are squeamish and prefer it a bit more done (ie lighter pink, and flaked)

E: serve all at once***** piping hot, mustard sauce near the salmon, chili sauce near the prawn-potato cakes

GENERAL COMMENTS: If you can avoid eating in the same room as cooking, all the better — hot frying can make the kitchen a bit smoky and hot, unless you’re super-adept. I didn’t really get my potato-cakes to cohere in nice cake-shapes… this doesn’t matter much unless you’re trying to win masterchef, but it’s vaguely annoying. Similarly, apart from the nice yellow mustard and red chili sauce, the overall LOOK can be a bit brown and burntish, at least till you crack the nice pink salmon open. But the taste is lovely!

*You may want to play around with the ratio of prawns to potatoes
**ie 25 mins before suppertime
***I had forgotten how incredibly rubbish the mouli at dad’s is and had to squudge everything up by hand, which is no fun with hot just-boiled potato
****or they’re meant to — my potatoes were too hot and moist, and didn’t really
*****If you want to start the potato-cakes a bit earlier, and let them stand (kept hot), it may make the final simultaneity a bit less hair-raising (but actually it’s perfectly achievable)