Smoked Salmon Capellini with Lemon, Dill & Capers, & Simple Roast Apricot & Plum Cheesecakes

One of the great mysteries of writing recipes, styling and photographing food and blogging in general, is seeing what people respond to. Yesterday I posted another Valentine's Day recipe for a chocolate, hazelnut tart with hazelnut ice cream which is so bloody good, and Nick reckons the photo is his favourite I have ever taken. On insta it rocketed along, but languished on Facebook without much response (although it actuallly never appeared in my personal feed, so maybe that is the problem...?!). Humph! It is a mystery to me - but I really do hope that these two recipes get seen a wee bit more, because again, they are easy to make, the food tastes fantastic and I think the pics aren't too shabby either. Also I put them together for the good people at Fairfax, and I'd like them go well in newspapers around New Zealand too!!!

The salmon pasta is a variation on one I have been making for many years, and it is an absolute favourite. It takes five minutes to make but still has a slightly decadent quality thanks to the rich, flaky hot smoked salmon, elegant  finely sliced smoked salmon, salty capers, zingy lemon and a touch of herby dill or fennel. The luscious dessert is like a cheesecake in a glass with sweet, juicy roasted plums and apricots tucked away in a smooth cream-cheesy filling, layered between a crumbling of nuts and gingernuts - a perfect pillowy combination of textures. So whether you've been together for ever (like Nick and I), or in the throws of a new romance, if you are an experienced 'old hand' in the kitchen or just getting the hang of it - these recipes are my little Valentine's Day gift to you - get busy for your bae! :) (Or for that matter - if you're yet to find true love, just get a mate over and enjoy the food!)

PS - OK Facebook you've got some explaining to do - this time the pic for the salmon appeared in my feed, but not the cheesecakes...erm, what's the story!?

Smoked Salmon Pasta
Serves: 2
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
½ small onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons dry white wine
100g sliced smoked salmon, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cream 
200g capellini or spaghetti
150g hot smoked salmon, roughly flaked
finely grated zest of half a lemon
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill or fennel

Heat oil and butter n a large frying pan and bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Fry onion over a medium gentle heat for 8 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add white wine and cook for a minute then add sliced smoked salmon and cream, season with salt and pepper and cook gently for 5 minutes. The salmon will break up and the liquid will reduce during this time. Cook the pasta until only just al dente (according to packet instructions), drain reserving ¼ cup pasta water. Add drained pasta to the sauce with the reserved pasta water, and half of the hot smoked salmon, lemon zest, capers and dill. Cook stirring for one minute to heat through. Divide the pasta between two plates and top with remaining hot smoked salmon, lemon zest, capers and dill and a grinding of black pepper.

Plum Cheesecake Cups
Serves: 2
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 minutes

3 plums, apricots or a combination, halved, stones removed
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, Frangelico or Galliano
1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yoghurt 
100g cream cheese, at room temperature
4 gingernut biscuits
2 tablespoons toasted, skinned hazelnuts (or almonds or walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line an oven dish with baking paper. Place the fruit cut side down on the baking paper and roast 5-10 minutes, turn over and sprinkle with half of the sugar then roast another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool in the baking dish then slice each half in half (quarters). Whiz gingernuts in a small food processor to form crumbs, add hazelnut and pulse to break up and combine with the crumbs. Divide half of the crumb mixture between two serving glasses and top each with 4 fruit quarters. In a clean food processor whiz remaining sugar with Frangelico, sour cream and cream cheese until smooth. Spoon on top of fruit in glasses and refrigerate for an hour. Divide remaining plums between the glasses and sprinkle with remaining nut biscuit crumb to serve.

*Roasting time of the fruit will depend on how ripe they are to begin with – harder fruit will take longer

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