Soak the gelatine in a little of the beetroot liquid, and when soft, stir it into the rest of the liquid and the sherry vinegar. Heat gently, stirring until the gelatine has dissolved. Cool as quickly as possible – outside the back door, on a balcony or over a bowl of ice. Wet a ring mould, and scatter the beetroot in it. Pour over the cold liquid, and refrigerate until set. The jelly can be prepared the day before required.
Scrub and boil the potatoes, and while they are cooking, make the dill cream. Strip the feathery leaves from the stems, which can be put in with the potatoes. Put the leaves in a mortar with a pinch of sea salt and some pepper. Grind with a pestle until you have a paste. Fold this into the whipped cream.
To assemble the salad, turn the jelly out onto a platter. Fill the centre with the potatoes, cooled, mixed with some of the dill cream. Arrange the rollmops on top, and garnish with more dill. Alternatively, chop the rollmops and some shallots, and fold the mixture, together with the cream, into the potatoes.
There are other ways of serving this combination. The simplest is to dress the chopped beetroot with sherry vinegar and walnut oil, and put it in the bowl. Serve the remaining ingredients, rollmops, potatoes and dill cream, in separate bowls too, and forget about the jelly.
The jelly can also be set in individual glass bowls or china dishes, and the salad, herrings and cream piled up on top.
This is a dish for beer and akvavit rather than wine.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.