Members' Recipes Archive

May 2002
Confident Cooking in Wiltshire - Salmon fillet with a saffron sauce and asparagus and broad bean
Caroline Yates

Confident Cooking in Wiltshire - Salmon fillet with a saffron sauce and asparagus and broad bean

By: Caroline Yates

Serves: 4

The idea was conceived back in 1995. Then, I just helped out one or two keen cooks who asked me to show them where they were going wrong with their favourite recipes. In 1996, Confident Cooking was born and consisted only of one demonstration a month, run in the evening and following morning, so that workers, mums and retireds all had an opportunity to come. Things have changed since then.

Having trained at Cordon Bleu and then, running my own catering company doing Directors' lunches and private functions, I decided to refresh at the excellent Leith's School of Food and Wine, where I subsequently became Buyer and evening class Instructor for over four years, before leaving to move permanently to the country. Initially, I had run the business from our very small weekend house. Now we needed a bigger house. Enter, our brilliant, listed manor farm house, set in its own grounds about half an hour away from Salisbury, Stonehenge, Bath and Avebury. It just happens to have a huge kitchen and large bedrooms!

With the experience of teaching kitchens behind me, I designed mine to cope with domestic and professional demands and I can now demonstrate to 25 people with the use of an overhead mirror. [The kitchen has been featured in various magazines]. I have enough space, workstations and cooking appliances to offer hands-on weekend courses for 8 people, which we run as country house parties. Guests arrive on Friday evening and leave after lunch on Sunday, having accomplished a great deal, and had a good time as well. There is plenty to do for non-cooking partners: sightseeing, shopping, shooting, fishing and pub crawling.

Men-only classes are proving popular: up to six men come here on a Saturday morning and prepare dinner party food which they take home, or for an afternoon class, to be joined by their partners for dinner that evening in my beautiful dining room. They can also stay the night, as we have four excellent double bedrooms with their own bathrooms.

I run children's classes in the school holidays and these are always messy but fun.

My web site at gives all the relevant info and we would be delighted to welcome as customers any Guild member who wanted to improve his or her own cooking skills.

Here is an example of the sort of thing you'd learn how to make, chosen for the skills and techniques required. This is a useful recipe for a dinner party because, except for the fish, each part of it can be prepared and cooked ahead of time and then reheated in a warming oven just before serving. The fish can be cooked while you are clearing the first course, and plated from the kitchen.


For the purée:
2 bunches of thin asparagus, woody ends removed (reserve tips. Allow 6-7 stalks per head)
450g broad beans, cooked and skinned
Salt and feshly ground black pepper


4 x 175g chunky salmon fillets, skinned
about 150mls dry white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
2 shallots, finely chopped
20g unsalted butter
150mls fish stock
150mls dry white wine
300mls double cream
10 strands of saffron, soaked in 2 tablespoons hot water
salt and freshly ground white pepper

For the garnish:
Asparagus tips (see recipe)
2 large beef tomatoes, skinned and diced (concasse)
English parsley, finely chopped


1. Make the purée: bring a wide-based, shallow pan, or roasting tin of salted water to the boil, add the asparagus and cook for 5 - 8 minutes until cooked but crisp to the bite. Drain and refresh in ice cold water. This stops the cooking and sets the colour. Drain again, cut off the tips and reserve for the garnish, and whizz the stalks in a processor, with the broad beans, to make a purée. Season to taste. Put to one side and reheat just before serving.
2. Prepare the salmon: oil and season enough tin foil to take 4 fillets, plus enough to fold back over and cover them. Sprinkle the fish with a little white wine and season generously. Fold over the edges of the foil to seal the 'envelope'. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Make the sauce: heat the butter in a heavy sauté pan, add the shallots, cover and cook over a moderate heat for about 8 - 10 minutes or until soft, but not browned. Pour in the fish stock and white wine and reduce by half, by boiling rapidly. Add the cream and saffron liquid and reduce to a slightly thickened consistency, season to taste. Reheat just before serving.
4. Preheat the oven to 240°c/gm8 before eating. If there are two ovens, heat the other to 130°c/gm1 and put in the bean purée, the asparagus tips and the diced tomato to reheat. If two ovens are not available, place over pans of simmering water, covered, to keep in the heat.
5. Immediately the first course is finished, put the salmon into the oven for 10 minutes, while you clear away plates. Remove from the oven and leave it to sit while you spoon some purée on to four hot serving plates. Top with the salmon and either spoon or pour the sauce around the fish. Garnish with the reserved asparagus tips, tomato concasse and sprinkle with parsley.

Recipes copyright 2002 Caroline Yates


Author: Caroline Yates Email:

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