Daring Cooks December 2009: Salmon en Croute

December is a always a fun and festive month with many a family and friend get together. When considering options for entrees many people seriously consider beef wellington. It radiates sophistication and feeds a crowd. Another show stopper and closely related is Salmon en Croute. Instead of beef, salmon is wrapped in a homemade shortcrust pastry. It is accompanied by a sauce made of a myriad of flavors including spinach, chive, and onion. Unfortunately it is very rarely considered which is a shame as it has the potential to really shine. It would made make an wonderful addition to your New Years eve or day party….or candlelight dinner…. :).

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Salmon en Croute:
Shortcrust pastry
I highly recommend making your own shortcrust pastry as it is very simple to do! Make sure to not add too much water as that is the key to having a successful shortcrust pastry.
Ingredients:
450 gr (15.8 ounces or 3.2 cups ) of plain all purpose flour
200 gr ( 7 ounce) cold butter
pinch of salt

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor ( I received a brand new one for Christmas! ), this is an awesome use for it. Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.
For best results make sure the butter is very cold.

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Ingredients

Chive and Onion Cream Cheese 10.4 ounces/ 300 grams
Spinach – 1 1/8 cup/8.4 ounces/ 240 grams
Shortcrust pastry -see recipe above… Or if buying from the store 1- 17.6 ounces ( 500 gram) package
Salmon fillet (skinless)- 17.6 ounce/500 gr
egg – 1 medium sized

Directions:

Heat the oven to 390 F. Put the cream cheese in a food processor with the spinach and combine until you have a creamy green puree. Season well.
Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet (it will hang over the edges). Put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. Spoon a third of the spinach mixture onto the salmon. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the join will be at the top, so trim the edge neatly), making sure you don’t have any thick lumps of pastry as these won’t cook through properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts to disguise the join if you like. Brush with the egg glaze.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned. To test whether the salmon is cooked, push a sharp knife through one of the cuts into the flesh, wait for 3 seconds then test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked.
Serve with the rest of the spinach puree as a sauce.

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I made this as a birthday dinner for my mom. My dad – who does not like salmon at all….- exclaimed it was excellent. He proclaimed the recipe a keeper! The sauce is just amazing. I adapted from the original recipe as we just could not get enough of it! Excellent all around…:) Start your year off right…you can’t go wrong with this recipe! Oh and Happy Birthday Mom!
Dream. Bake. Believe.
Love, Steffie

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