Smoked fish, labneh and pickles: Rosie Birkett’s easy twixtmas dinner | Christmas food and drink

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The idea here is you make a big batch of the pickles for everyone to dive into, to accompany a platter of assorted smoked fish, and baked potatoes poshed-up with horseradish and dill labneh and a pop of salty fish roe, which adds a lovely sparkle. I use lumpfish or trout roe to dress them up along with chopped chives, but if you’re not a fan of fish eggs, just leave them out. Smoked salmon is super-expensive these days, so I buy just one packet and mix it up with smoked mackerel, haddock and a tin of something delicious such as smoked oysters, which are a treat for less than £3.

Smoked fish and pickle platter

You will need three sterilised 500ml jars for the pickles and can swap any of the vegetables for others that you have to hand – you need roughly 800g in total.

Prep 20 min
Cook 10 min
Steep 6 hr
Serves 6-8

200g smoked salmon
300g smoked mackerel
(I use a combination of sweet smoked and peppered smoked)
200g undyed smoked haddock, poached for a few minutes in 200ml milk with a bay leaf and peppercorns, until opaque and flaking
1 x deli tub marinated anchovies
1 x 85g tin smoked oysters

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved

For the pickles
1 bunch of radishes
1 small red onion
, peeled
1 small fennel bulb
100g cucumber
, peeled and thickly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
350ml cider vinegar
250ml water
100g caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp
peppercorns (I like a mixture of black, white, pink)
2 bay leaves
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
, pared off in strips
½ tsp fennel seeds
A few sprigs of dill

To make the pickles, clean and chop the veg: if you have one, use a mandoline and finely slice the onion, fennel and some of the radishes, keeping some of the latter halved and quartered, too, for contrast. Divide the veg between the jars: I like to keep the onions and radish together for a pink pickle; the fennel is good in its own jar, and the carrot and cucumber work well together, with a few sprigs of the dill.

In a saucepan, warm the vinegar, 250ml water and the rest of the pickle ingredients, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle boil, leave to simmer for a couple of minutes, then take off the heat. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then pour over the veg in their jars. Make sure it’s all completely submerged – I sometimes put a thick round of lemon on top as a plug, if need be. Seal the jars and leave to steep for at least six hours, or overnight, then divide between little dishes to serve alongside the smoked fish.

Lay out the fish and eggs on a board with a little bowl of the pickles, the baked potatoes, labneh and some crackers or bread.

Horseradish labneh with crisp capers

Prep 10 min
Drain Overnight
Serves 4-8

1 x 200g tub soured cream
350g full-fat natural yoghurt

1 tbsp dill leaves, finely chopped
3 heaped tsp horseradish sauce or cream
3 tbsp
capers, drained and dried on kitchen paper
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

In a bowl, mix the soured cream, yoghurt and a pinch of salt. Set a sieve over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth or a clean tea towel. Scoop the yoghurt mix into the lined sieve, then twist the cloth around it and chill overnight.

The next day, unwrap the strained yoghurt, tip it into a bowl, then stir in the dill and horseradish.

Put the oil in a medium frying pan on a medium heat and, once it’s hot, fry the capers until crisp and blossoming. Scoop them out, drain on kitchen towel and leave to cool.

Spoon the labneh on to a serving dish and use the back of a spoon to make a well in the middle. Drizzle a little olive oil over and top with the capers.

Baked potatoes, butter and salmon caviar

Prep 5 min
Cook 1 hr 30 min+
Serves 8

8 small to medium baking potatoes, cleaned and any eyes removed
Rapeseed oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Salted butter, at room temperature
50g salmon or lumpfish roe, to serve (optional)
Horseradish labneh (see previous recipe), to serve
A small handful of chives, finely chopped, to serve

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Cut a cross into the top of each potato and, using your hands, rub each one with a generous amount of rapeseed oil, coating them completely. Rub with a handful of sea salt and sprinkle with black pepper, again making sure the potatoes are well coated.

Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for an hour and a half, or until they’re crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy within. Serve with the butter, lumpfish roe, horseradish labneh and chives.

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