Blackberry Grav Lax

Salt recipes Salt recipes Salt recipes Cooking with Salt Cooking with Salt

Serves 8-10

In this Grav Lax recipe salt, in combination with the sugar, alcohol and fruit is used to draw moisture out of the flesh and preserve the fish. Giving it a lovely smooth texture and a very slight salty taste. The traditional Scandinavian Grav Lax, has had an overhaul with blackberries, creating a stunning fillet, that looks great on your smorgasbord.

1 kg Salmon Fillet, skin on, pin boned
½ cup/70g Sea Salt Flakes
¼ cup Raw Sugar (weigh)
2 tsp Heilala Vanilla Powder (seeds from 2 vanilla pods)
2 tbsp freshly ground Pepper
3 cups/ 400 g Frozen or fresh Blackberries
1/3 cup/ 1 dl Snaps
2 tbsp fennel seeds

Horseradish Dip:

Horseradish cream
Sour cream
Salt & Pepper to taste


Rye Bread
Micro greens (coriander & beetroot sprouts or watercress)
Lemon rind

Method Grav Lax:

Place sea salt, sugar, vanilla powder, pepper, blackberries, snaps and fennel seeds in a food processor or blender, and blitz to mix.

Place the salmon skin side down on several layers of cling film, (enough to wrap around and cover the salmon), and place on a baking tray. Using tweezers, remove the pin bones along the side of the salmon fillet. Spread the salt and blackberry mixture over the fish, making sure it’s completely covered. Then wrap the cling film tightly around the salmon. Place a second baking tray or chopping board over the fillet and weigh it down with a heavy item (Weighing the fish down, is not usually part of traditional Swedish curing technique, however it’s often used in Southern Hemisphere cooking, to help draw moisture out. This technique may give the fish a tougher texture).

Refrigerate and cure for at least 24 hours, up to 48 hours.

Remove the cling film and clean the seasoning mixture from the salmon with a wet teatowel. Avoid rinsing the filet, under the tap, as this will rinse out the beautiful red colour. Serve thinly sliced on toasted rye bread, garnish with micro herbs (ie coriander & beetroot sprouts or watercress), lemon rind, blackberries and horseradish dip (see method below).

Method Dip:

Mix horseradish cream and sour cream, evenly 50/50 and season with sea salt and pepper to your liking.

The Grav Lax will keep 3-4 days, chilled.

Cooking note: It is important to use sea salt crystals and not rock salt, as flavour and texture will vary greatly.

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This recipe is part of my salt story published in MAD&venner #129 2015 & Matmagasinet Nord #23 2017, focusing on using salt as a main ingredient for cooking or flavouring. Try these recipes from this series too:
Salt & Vinegar Potato Skins
Pork Belly in Brine with Cripsy Crackling
Salt Dough Baked Leg of Lamb
The Perfectly Salty Margarita
Oozy Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart
Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Golden Pavlova with Summer Berries and Salted Chocolate Sauce

© Manja Wachsmuth 2017

Vanilla Cocktails for New Year

The Cocktail Cabinet/ Vanilla Table The Cocktail Cabinet/ The Vanilla Table

A very last minute blogpost with a couple of ideas for New Year cocktails. These are brought to you by Vanilla Table author Natasha MacAller and will work well for New Years eve where ever you are or at any cocktail party really. Cocktails are all the rage at the moment, so easy to make, and sure to impress! Cheers and Happy New Year! (Drink responsibly)

The Vanilla Lemon Drop
Serves 1
Inspired by a Taste of Vanilla Lemonade, this perfect celebration cocktail, combining two fragrant tastes and only takes mere seconds to mix and enjoy!

Vodka 60ml/ 2 shots/ 2  fl oz
Lemon juice, Fresh, Strained  30ml/1 shot/1 fl oz
Vanilla syrup (I used Heilala) 2 tsp/10ml
Vanilla bean sliver for garnish

Pour liquid ingredients into an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake well, Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a sliver of vanilla bean.

*1 shot equals  30 ml/1 fl oz

The South Pacific Star
Fragrant with Passion fruit and Proseco, this south pacific summer party cocktail was served at “Cuisines of the Sun” in Hawaii for 350 guests! This updated version Serves about 12.

42 Below Passion Fruit vodka 235 ml/8fl oz/8 shots
Heilala Vanilla Syrup 175 ml/6 fl oz/6 shots
Proseco or NZ Sparkling wine (I used a blush style) 1 bottle/750ml/3/4 fl qt.
Passion Fruit Fresh, pulp and seeds about 12/235ml/8fl oz
Vanilla bitters 2 dashes (optional)
Orchids to float and garnish

Pour together vodka, vanilla syrup (and bitters if using) then Proseco in a large jug. Layer ice cubes in bottom of a large punch bowl (3 liters). Drizzle over ice a third of passionfruit pulp and seeds. Add another layer of ice and more passionfruit. Repeat once more. Slowly pour the liquid in the center of the punch bowl, garnish with orchids and serve immediately.

1 shot equals 30 ml/1 fl oz

Recipes © Natasha MacAller. Thanks to The Studio of Tableware for letting us borrow the trifle bowl, used as punch bowl. All other props photographers or food stylists own.

Vanilla Blogtails

The Cocktail Cabinet

In October I shared some of the photos I shot for Natasha MacAller’s Vanilla Table. With Christmas just around the corner and the sun beaming down, Natasha decided to share a new vanilla drink recipe suitable for a casual kiwi Christmas by the beach or at the bach. This delicious Bourbon Vanilla Milkshake works both as a dessert and as a cocktail, and is a real treat on a hot day! Natasha has a couple more Vanilla cocktails she’d like to share. These are suitable for a New Years party, so make sure to check back then! Thank you to Flotsam & Jetsam for letting us borrow the vintage Agee Jars.

Running out of ideas on what to get someone for Christmas? Why not Natasha’s fabulous book Vanilla Table for more inspiration on how to use vanilla in untraditional ways.

Recipe © by Natasha MacAller

Bourbon Vanilla Milkshake with Caramel and Cherries
Serves 4

Natasha explains: “ I have often been asked: “Why is Vanilla called Bourbon Vanilla? Is there bourbon in it?” The most widely available Vanilla in the world is often referred to as Bourbon or Madagascar Vanilla, the Bourbon refers to “ Ile Bourbon” a French ruled island in the Indian Ocean where The Vanilla Orchid was first pollinated, not by bees but, by the hand of a thoughtful and clever slave-boy: Edmond Albius. Without his discovery, the modern business of the vanilla trade might not have happened.
This easy moreish summer cocktail blends bourbon vanilla bean ice cream with aged Kentucky bourbon to make the ultimate adult milkshake!”

Bourbon (such as Makers Mark) 30 mls/1 fl oz/1 shot
Amaretto Liqueur 30 mls/1 fl oz/1 shot
Dried Cherries 30g/1 oz/ ¼  cup, rehydrated
Caramel Sauce, for drizzling
Vanilla bean Ice Cream or Gelato, 8 large scoops/400g
Whole milk 160 ml/5 fl oz/2/3 fl cup
Ice cubes 1-2 cups/50-100g

Chill 4  300 ml canning jars in the freezer. Combine Bourbon, Amaretto and cherries in a small jug and set aside. Spoon the ice cream and milk in a blender, add strained cherries (reserving a few for the top) and the liquid. Blitz on high and add ice cubes as needed to thicken. Drizzle caramel sauce down insides of frozen jars then pour the milkshake in center of jars. Sprinkle reserved cherries on top and serve with straws before it melts!

Vanilla Table

Vanilla Lacquer Duck Leg with Shanghai Dim Sum & Lychee Lime Relish, recipe by Paul Jobin, food styling by Natasha MacAller Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013 Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013 Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013

Following Wednesdays book launch of Natasha MacAller’s  Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the worlds best chefs, the book we spent most of last year working on, and talking about, is finally out in the shops. Today I spotted it front forward at Queen Street, Auckland’s Whitcoull’s right next to Donna Hay’s new book, so that couldn’t be better placement really! Hopefully Donna will help us with the sales!

Natasha and I met when I was shooting Peter Gordon’s Everyday book, back in October 2011. Peter & Natasha has been great friends for years, so I was very honoured to firstly have Peter recommend me, even before his own book was finished, and secondly to have Natasha actually pick me, to shoot her fabulous book project. We started early 2012, where I went to stunning Bay of Islands, to shoot the first 3rd of the book with Natasha. We had a marathon of a week, up to our necks in delicious food and treats, and vanilla coming out of our ears- in fact I’m pretty sure I was sweating vanilla by the end of it. And Natasha got her first taste of what she signed up for, when shooting a book. It’s bloody hard work!

Later, midway through the year, I went to London to shoot the 2nd batch of recipes, and while it’s fabulous to travel around the world, doing what I love to do: Shoot food, I didn’t really get to see much of London that week. Finally back in Auckland, I got a beautiful delivery from Heilala Vanilla’s green house in Tauranga, the stunning vanilla orchid plant and fresh beens pictured inside the cover, and we finished off with the 3rd batch of recipes in November, while I just managed to stay sane, before my wedding in early December.

Finally the long wait is over, and we can enjoy the labour of our work. It’s so rewarding finally to have a heavy copy in your hand, flicking through the pages, and seeing all the ideas we had for look and layout come to life. We wanted to focus entirely on the styling of the food, so decided to pull back completely on the proping, and rely on beautiful textures, subtle tones of white, sand & blue and organic, modern shapes. I think the texture of the fabric really comes to life this way, and especially the feel of the cover. I could’t be more pleased, and am looking forward to trying out all the recipes again.

Unfortunately the recipes are copyrighted, and we don’t want to give away too much, so head down to your local bookstore this labour weekend, and pick up Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world’s best chefs, by Natasha MacAller. Published by Bateman.

Recipes pictured:

Vanilla Lacquer Duck Leg, recipe by Paul Jobin, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: black slate tile borrowed from John Lewis at Kauri Cliffs, blue napkin by Fog Linen Work

The Pork Chop, recipe and food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: gray slate photographers own, steak knife food stylists own, Alessi jar and bowl from Simon James Concept Store

Rum & Vanilla Cured Salmon, recipe by Douglas Rodriguez, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: vintage stilton plate from Flotsam & Jetsam, bowl from Wonki Ware, porcelain spoon from The Conran Shop

The Lobster Roll, recipe and food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: platter by Wonki Ware, napkin by Fog Linen Work

Peach, Cardamom & Vanilla Sable Breton, recipe by Jim Dodge, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: platter from Freedom Furniture

Scottish Shortbread Sundae with Blueberry Ice Cream, recipe by Duff Goldman, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: vintage stilton plate and antique chiffon from Flotsam & Jetsam, porcelain for from The Conran Shop