Salmon en Croute - Daring Kitchen

Happy New Year!

Sorry, been a bit lazy and need to get blogging again!  Christmas was good.  Got a new enamel coated Kitchenaid small braising pot - this is my second one, LOVE IT!!!  Also got the large Kitchenaide roasting pan with rack - it will hold a 20 lb turkey, but it will also hold many lamb shanks which I love to braise in the oven.

Added a few books to my cookbook collection also - Joy of Cooking and Vol. 1 and 2 of Julia Child's French Cooking.  Anxious to get in there and try some recipes.  I promised Dale that I would open the book this weekend and wherever it lands, that's what I'll make - what have I gotten myself into!  This of course will have to be worked around our road trip to Montreal to the Curryhouse for some curry goat roti, doubles and oxtail.  Yes, I will drive 2 1/2 hrs for lunch :-)

So I joined the Daring Kitchen in December and did my first cooking challenge.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - although, pastry has always been my nemesis.  It was good practice.  Over Christmas I made a couple of tourtieres that turned out great, so I was at least in the pastry neighbourhood.

The recipe was Salmon en Croute.   The things I have learned over the years from making pastry is even though baking is a very delicate and precise operation, when it comes to pastry some personal experience helps.  I have often found that if I follow the recipes exactly (pastry, pizza dough, bread), it never seems to work out.  It's like the flour here is extra dry or something and I always need a little extra water.  How much?  Ahhh - this my avid reader is where the problem comes in, because you never can tell!!  I end up adding a little bit extra until whatever dough I'm working with looks the way it should.  How can you tell?  For me, lots of experiementation and heavy garbage bags!  For the newbies out there, YouTube is great!  If you search, there are video clips you can watch which will give you an indication of the texture of the dough.

Anyway, here is the recipe we used for our challenge.  I tweeked it a bit and have put an asterisk beside my own personal taste additions.  Try it out, it was very good!

Salmon en Croute (recipe source Good Food Online/Daring Kitchen):
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz combination baby spinach, rocket, watercress
shortcrust pastry (recipe below)
1 lb g skinless boneless salmon filet
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper*
1 tsp lemon zest*
1 green onion*
1 egg beaten with 1 tb water and a pinch of salt

Shortcrust Pastry (make this part first):
3 1/4 c plain all purpose flour
7 ounces cold butter, cut into thin slices
2/3 c ice cold water (I usually put ice cubes into the water to keep it cold)
Pinch of salt
1.   Put the flour and salt into the food processer and pulse a couple of times
2.   Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
3.  While the machine is running, slowly add the water until the mixture starts coming together.  Don't add all of it, it may not need all the water.  Add 2 tb at a time, and check the texture.  If you can pinch it together for kneading, it's ready.
4.  Take it out of the food processor, and knead gently on a floured surface for a couple of minutes only, you don't want to heat it up - you'll have tough dough later.  You want to make sure there is enough moisture that the whole mass holds together.  Shape it into a flattened oval disc for easier rolling later.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 400F.  Put the cream cheese in a food processor with the greens, green onion, lemon zest, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.  Process until you have a coarse paste - you are not making a sauce here.

Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon completely (about 1/4" think) and lay it on a parchment lined baking sheet.  (NOTE:  If the once the dough has chilled about 30 minutes it should be ready for rolling, HOWEVER, it may be a little too firm.  Leave it at room temperature a few minutes until you can roll it out easily).  Lay the salmon on one side of the pastry.  Spoon half the mixture over the salmon.  Trim the edges to make a rectangle.  Fold the pastry over the salmon to make a neat parcel.  Trim off the excess and crimp the edges to make a nice seal for your pouch.  Cut slashes across the top to allow steam to escape.  If you like, make some decorations with the trim and place on top, in between the slashes.  Brush with the egg glaze.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until pastry is crisp and brown.  To test whether salmon is done, push a sharp knife into one of the cuts, into the flesh of the salmon.  Wait for 3 seconds, then test on inside of your wrist; if it's hot, the salmon is cooked.  Serve with remainder of the spinach puree as a sauce.

Bon Appetit - don't stress if the pastry doesn't turn out, you can always just bake the salmon on it's own and try again another day.  Take a deep breath, pour a nice glass of Oyster Bay Chardonnay and say 'Hey, at least I tried something new'.  :-)


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