Do A Delia

Smoked Trout on Potato Croquettes and Grilled Peppers on Potato Croquettes

A few weeks ago at an Exclusive Books sale I stumbled across Delia Smith’s How To Cheat At Cooking (2008 edition). I am ashamed to admit that before this book, I never owned a Delia Smith Cook Book! I had somehow forgotten about her.

During my school years I used to love watching her show. She did everything perfectly, with such ease and grace. Whatever she cooked always turned out exactly what it should look like. You know how when you make poached eggs in a pot of boiling water and they often turn out looking like badminton balls (a round yolk attached to a net of egg white) well, hers always look like beautiful white pillows with a golden treasure hidden inside.

Whenever I make something and it turns out exactly like it should, I say: “I did a Delia”.

There is something about Delia Smith that not only makes you want to make perfect food, but trust and believe her that her recipes and method will achieve perfection. She is the English cookery writer and broadcaster that ‘taught the English nation to cook’. Her books regularly become bestsellers and she has the rare honour of being known and recognised simply by her first name.

She has had such an influence on home cooks that in 2001 she entered the Collins English Dictionary. The “Delia Effect” as the phrase is used: describes a run on a previously poor-selling product as a result of a high-profile recommendation. Forgotten products were revived when Delia gave them her blessing — no more was the seemingly old-fashioned omelette pan forgotten and left for dust, or the tin of chestnuts. She’s like the Oprah of cooking: whatever book Oprah is reading the nation is reading; the pan Delia is using the nation is using .

I have the 2008 version of Delia’s How To Cheat At Cooking. This book has been criticised for its use of shortcuts,. I usually hate the idea of shortcuts when it comes to cooking. I am quite an impatient person, but in the kitchen I have all the patience – I love the feeling of after spending hours making the perfect dish you get to sit down and relax and EAT it! When I was kid, before I went to bed I would make myself really tired by lying on my back and running as fast I could into the thin air. I remember loving the feeling of my legs relaxing after making them so tired from running – I get the same enjoyment from slaving away in the kitchen and then getting to sit down once it’s completed. But, it is not so enjoyable when you have guests over and you are trying to entertain and cook at the same time.

In this book, I found the easiest FULLPROOF Hollandaise recipe. My mom and I simply adore Hollandaise. However, it’s a pain to make and a pain to keep warm without it splitting. When I make it I always have to do it at the last minute. I end up in a tizz praying for it not to split. My pain is over and so is yours. Delia’s NO-PANIC HOLLANDAISE not only uses a fraction of the fat, but also can be made in advance! It can be re-heated and I guarantee it will not split.

I will say that it is not as nice as the traditional Hollandaise, the nutty flavour of the clarified butter is missing, but it is a very good copy. It is a great recipe to make when you want to impress your guests without the stress. Your friends will love it. It tastes pretty good and in fact Delia says that she’s watched people tasting it and not noticing that it isn’t the real thing. I strongly suggest that you try it. The recipe has changed my attitude on shortcuts in the kitchen and if you have ever wanted to make Hollandaise but been too afraid to try it, this is the recipe for you.

It is fullproof and you can certainly count on “doing a Delia”

FOR DELIA’S NO-PANIC HOLLANDAISE (severs 4 as a starter):

3 Rounded tablespoons crème fraiche

1 Teaspoon cornflour

2 Egg yolks

½ Tablespoon white wine vinegar

½ Tablespoon lemon juice

2 Tablespoon (50g) softened butter

Spoon the crème fraiche into a saucepan, then add the rest of the ingredients except the butter. Whisk them all together with a whisk, then, over a medium heat, bring the whole lot up to a simmering point. Whisking continuously, until the sauce has thickened. Now, remove  the sauce from the heat, taste and add seasoning, more vinegar or lemon if required, then whisk in the butter – and that’s it.

Note: you can make the Hollandaise in advance and re-heat it, set over a pan of hot water.

To me the best way to eat Hollandaise is with salmon and asparagus. I usually like it as a starter, but today I thought I’d use it as a light lunch that would knock the socks off any book club meeting.

In this recipe I use smoked trout instead of smoked salmon. Smoked trout is a fantastic, cheaper (half the amount of salmon) alternative to salmon. It has a subtler flavour and a lovely soft texture. I also make a vegetarian version using, grilled peppers and courgettes, tomato sauce and Teleggio cheese (recipe below the smoked trout recipe)

Smoked Trout and Asparagus on Potato and Courgette Croquettes with Delia’s Hollandaise.


4 Whole Potatoes

I Egg

4 Courgettes

1 Garlic chopped

1 Onion cut into half-moons

1 Heaped tablespoon of flour

Bunch of parsley

Olive oil for frying onion

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 150

Par-boil the potatoes with skin on for 10mins. Fry onion with garlic until onion turns translucent. Once potatoes are cooled, peel and grate them. Using the fine grater setting, grate courgettes. Combine the grated potato, grated courgettes, egg, flour and cooked onions. Chop a handful of parsley add to potato mixture. Add a teaspoon of salt and some ground pepper. Mix well.

Grab a ball of the mixture, slightly smaller than a tennis ball, and flatten into a patty. Fry potato patties (croquettes) on a gentle heat. Once nicely browned, place into the oven that has been preheated to 150 degrees. The oven should keep them warm while you prepare everything else and cook the centre of the croquette if it is still a little rare.


Bunch of Asparagus

Packet of Smoked Trout (I buy this from Woolworths – R39.95 a pack)

Hollandaise (as per above recipe)

Potato and Courgette Croquettes (as per above recipe)

While the potato and courgette croquettes are in the oven, boil the asparagus, at the same time make the Hollandaise or reheat it (depending if you made it earlier) .

Once the asparagus and Hollandaise are ready, the potato and courgette croquettes can come out of the oven (they’re in the oven more to keep warm rather than to cook, 10–15 minutes should be enough time).

Assemble the smoked trout croquettes: Place 3 asparagus spears on a plate, place the croquette on top, place 3 more asparagus spears on top of the croquette. Place 2 ribbons of smoked trout on top of asparagus and drizzle with the Hollandaise.


3 Peppers (1 red, 1 green 1 yellow)

5 Courgettes

Tomato sauce (see recipe below)

Teleggio Cheese

Olive Oil for grilling courgettes

Few sprigs of origanum

Salt and Pepper

Potato and Courgette Croquettes (as per recipe above)


1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt & Pepper

Place peppers under grill. Grill until they are blackened all over. Take out of the oven and place in a zip-lock bag or in a bowl covered with cling-film/plastic wrap. In the meantime, slice courgettes lengthwise, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle courgettes with the origanum and place in the oven and grill till tender.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Fry potato croquettes till golden and place in the oven.

While croquettes are in the oven, take peppers out of zip-lock bag and peel the blackened skin off. Chop peeled peppers into strips, place peppers and courgettes in a bowl and pour the white wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil over. Taste, and add salt and pepper and more vinegar if needed. Remove croquettes (they’re in the oven more to keep warm rather than to cook, 10–15 minutes should be enough time). .

TOMATO SAUCE (this recipe is my standard tomato sauce – it is a really nice sauce that my mother taught me)

1 Onion chopped finely

2 Coves Garlic chopped finely

1 Tablespoon Tomato paste

1 Tin Chopped Peeled Tomato

½ Teaspoon Sugar

2 Anchovy fillets chopped (optional)

2 Teaspoon dried Origanum

1 Teaspoon dried Basil

1/4Glass White Wine

Fresh Basil

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil and Butter for frying onions

Place some olive oil and butter in a pot, add chopped onions and garlic and cook on low heat till onions are translucent, add dried origanum and basil, some salt and pepper. Place tomato puree with onions and cook for 3 mins, add the chopped anchovies. Add wine and cook till alcohol is cooked out (the alcohol smell should be gone). Add tin of chopped tomatoes, then fill the empty tin half with water, add water to tomato mixture, add half a teaspoon of sugar and bring the tomato mixture to the boil. Boil for 5 mins. Bring down the heat (to the lowest setting). Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Simmer sauce for about 45 -50 mins. When the sauce is ready it should have a thin layer of orange oil on top. Add fresh chopped basil)


Place heated ready made/ left-over tomato sauce on a plate, place croquette on top, place peppers and courgette on top and then place two slices of Teleggio on top and place under a hot grill to melt the cheese slightly before serving.


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