New Year’s Eve Meal: The Starter and how we started

In Denmark, New Year’s Eve is the night when we go all out on food and clothes. Often people have big parties and the women turn up in their big ball gowns and men in their tuxedos.

Incidentally a party of this type was where my husband and I got serious first time: we had been dating most of December in Ripon and I went home after my exchange just before Christmas. We weren’t planning on seeing each other again as we lived in different countries, but I missed him, called him and he decided to come visit me for New Year.

Mr. Charnock and the future Mrs. Charnock in those early days.... thank you Trine, for finding this picture!

The Party had been planned by a group from my teacher training college and the men arrived in tuxedos (the swimming team all came in matching red, sequin jackets) and I was in a big ball gown………… and the rest is history. We embarked on a long distance relationship which lasted till August when I moved to Ripon to do a drama degree there. Then 11 years went by and in that time we have experienced a lot of things; getting our degrees, different jobs, new careers, buying a house, having a child, losing my job, moving country, living with my family for a year, a breakdown (not due to living with my family!!!), new job, getting better………  some things good and some bad, but now we are here, 11 years later and ready to plan another party – a lot less elaborate this time as we are celebrating it with my sister and her family and our friend Karen and there will be kids there – no tuxedos, no ball gowns, but good food and nicely dressed up never the less.

I am in charge of the starter, my sister Katrine is doing the main course and Karen is an expert on excellent desserts so am awaiting them to guest blog about those dishes.

Starter:

steamed sole, lemon sole or plaice (sø tunge, rød tunge eller rødspættefillet), fried scallops (kammuslinger) with a white wine and saffron sauce, served with green asparagus wrapped in parma ham.

I have not made the recipe for years, but I will attempt to write it down anyway and am expecting to make some amendments later.

Ingredients: 4 portions

  • 2  fillets of the fish without skin, cut in half length ways and rolled into a rosette.
  • 8 scallops
  • 1 dl of white wine
  • 1 dl of fish stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon of saffron
  • 1 dl of single cream
  • 12 green asparagus
  • 4 slices of parma ham
  • Salt to taste

The sauce: Take a pan, add the white wine, fish stock and saffron strands and leave to boil on top heat until reduced to 1/3. Now add the cream and leave to reduce again till a thick sauce. Taste with salt.

The asparagus: Take 3 asparagus and manually snap the bottom of the asparagus (it has a natural “snapping point” where the stringy bit ends, so no need to use a knife to cut it) . Now wrap a slices of Parma ham around it. Repeat this with the rest of the asparagus. Fry them on a hot pan with a little bit of oil or butter or a mix till the ham is crisp, but not for too long as you want asparagus to stay crisp.

The fish: Take a pan, put about 1 1/2 cm of water in the bottom. Put a sieve or a colander (dørslag) in the pan and line it with baking paper. Roll the fillets into little rosettes and hold them together by putting a tooth pick or a meat needle through it. Now place the fish carefully in the colander, ready to steam them just before serving them. Remember to put a lid on the pan (when the water comes to the boil, it should take no more than 10 minutes, but that depends on how much fish you have – keep an eye on it regularly, because you don’t want the fish to dry out). Remember to take out the tooth pick before serving.

The scallops: take a hot pan, add scallops and fry for a couple of minutes on each side. As soon as the scallop has taken colour and gotten crisp and brown, turn it over and repeat the process. Do this last minute just before serving. Make sure your scallops are completely thawed (optøet) before frying them.

Now place the dish up: take the fish, the two scallops and the aspargus and place it in the dish. Divide the sauce between the plates over the fish.

Pictures to follow!