Recipe: Herring in Furs by Alissa Timoshkina's

Today we are sharing an extra special recipe to celebrate the release of Alissa Timoshkina's beautiful new book Salt & Time, published today by Octopus Books. 'Herring in Furs' is one of the best ways we can think of to use our Neal's Yard Creamery creme fraiche and Cacklebean Eggs. 
Herring in Furs
I can bet you all the (little) money I have that anyone from the former Soviet Union reading this recipe will have a huge smile on their face and a sense of childlike excitement thinking of their favourite holiday – New Year’s Eve. This dish is essentially synonymous with the feast on 31 December, as it is one of the several iconic starters to adorn the festive table, along with Russian salad and meat in aspic, called Kholodets. The furs of the title refer to a rich layer of boiled and grated beetroot, carrots, potatoes and eggs as well as of raw onions and mayo. The original name in Russian – seledka pod shuboi – translates as ‘herring under a fur coat’. My title for the dish makes a playful nod to the famous literary Venus in Furs, as my herring’s coat is a lot lighter and more elegant than the one worn by her Soviet ancestor.
1 raw red beetroot, washed
mild vegetable oil, for rubbing
and dressing the beetroot
8–10 baby potatoes, scrubbed
8–10 baby carrots, scrubed
2 eggs
about 4 teaspoons beetroot
juice (see method)
250g crème fraîche
1 small garlic clove, grated
2 pinches of sea salt flakes,
plus more to taste
4 salted herring fillets in oil
small bunch of dill
good-quality unrefined
sunflower oil, for drizzling
salt and freshly ground
black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/Gas Mark 6. Rub the beetroot with a little oil and sprinkle with salt, then wrap in foil and roast for 30 minutes or until cooked but retaining a bit of crunch – pierce to the middle with a knife to check. Let the beetroot cool down, then peel and cut into 8 wedges. Dress with a bit of oil and salt and set aside. Cook the baby potatoes and carrots in separate saucepans of salted boiling water for 10 minutes or until ready tender. Drain and cut the potatoes in halves or quarters depending on their size, and the carrots in half lengthways. Cook the eggs in boiling water for 8 minutes. I know I am stating the obvious here, but make sure to add the eggs only once the water is boiling and then drain and run them under cold water afterwards to ensure they peel easily. While the vegetables and eggs are cooking, make the dressing. To obtain a small shot of beetroot juice, you can either use a juicer, or finely grate a small raw beetroot and strain the pulp through a fine sieve. Stir it into the crème fraîche in a small bowl. The amount of juice you add to the crème fraîche is really up to you, depending on the colour you prefer, but about 4 teaspoons will turn it the most delightful light pink colour. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste – I usually add 2 pinches of sea salt flakes, which is less salty and iodine-tasting than standard table salt. Once the vegetables and the eggs are boiled, assemble the salad. Place 2 dollops of the crème fraîche dressing on the plate and spread it over evenly. Serve the rest in a bowl on the side. Cut the herring fillets into bite-sized chunks and scatter around. Add the beetroot, potatoes and carrots, making sure you are not overcrowding the plate, so I will leave the exact amount of each vegetable to your judgement and the size of the plate or platter on which the salad will be served. Shell the eggs and cut into wedges, then place them on the plate, adding more texture and colour to the composition. The final touches to this dish are a light flourish of dill. Give it another grind of salt and pepper and a little drizzle of unrefined sunflower oil before serving.