Salmon en Croute served

S is for Salmon en Croute

This evening’s blog, despite having a rather impressive French name (Salmon en croûte literally meaning ‘crusted Salmon’) is actually very simple to prepare and cook. Quite frankly, anything wrapped in golden, cooked puff pastry looks great, so when you cook this for guests they never need know how easy it is to actually assemble. I use this word, as this recipe is more of an assembly job than actual cooking.

This recipe is for 2 (greedy) people, but if you want to make a bigger one, just double (or triple) up the ingredients. A large salmon en croûte makes for a great centrepiece when you’ve got a few guests round for a dinner party.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 (240g) fillets of salmon – skins cut off (ask your fishmonger to do this, else use a small knife and do it slowly and carefully yourself so as not to waste any of the flesh)
  • 250g puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge from frozen is fine)
  • 130g spinach (young leaves, freshly washed)
  • 5 chestnut mushrooms (finely sliced, and then sliced again into very small cubes/morsels)
  • 1/2 large onion – finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp crème fraÎche
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Oil (anything flavourless)
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 egg

Mushrooms and onions frying  Mushrooms, spinach and creme fraiche

Recipe:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Over a medium heat, melt the butter in a frying pan with the oil (this stops the butter burning), then add the onion and mushroom and leave to fry off for 5 minutes.
  3. Once everything has softened and the onion has become translucent, add the spinach and turn the heat down low. Leave to wilt – this will only take a moment or two if you carefully mix the spinach into the mushrooms and onions with a wooden spoon.
  4. Once wilted, add the juice of half the lemon, a pinch of salt, a couple of turns of pepper and crème fraÎche and mix together for a moment. Then take off the heat and put the mixture in a sieve over a small saucepan (no heat underneath is needed). Leave the liquid to drain off (but do not discard) and the spinach and mushroom mix to cool slightly. The reason this is cooled now is because if the mixture went onto the pastry hot, the butter in the pastry would melt and you could end up with a gooey mess.
  5. Whilst you’re waiting for this to cool, it’s time to prepare the pastry. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to just under ½cm thick. The width should be big enough that it accommodates the salmon filets with a 2cm borden. The length should be enough, so that the pastry can be folded over and encase (or ‘crust’) the salmon. Transfer the pastry to a baking tray.
  6. Season the salmon with a sprinkle of salt and pepper on both sides. Then place the fillets on one half of the pastry. Take the spinach mix and carefully spoon this  over the fillets, ensuring it ends up on the salmon rather than falling onto the pastry around it.
  7. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Using your finger, run some of the egg mix around the rim of the pastry – this will help the edges stick together when you fold it over.
  8. Fold over the empty half of the pastry carefully so the sides match up, then use a floured fork (the flour helps it to not stick to the pastry) to imprint the edges and seal your parcel.
  9. Gently score the pastry in diagonals and brush all over with egg white. Trim to neaten the edges and place in the middle of the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the ‘croute’ has puffed up and is golden brown.
  10. When the salmon is ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool for a moment before slicing and serving. In the meantime reheat the sauce that you reserved from spinach/mushrooms. Add another dollop of crème fraîche and mix together. Serve the salmon with the sauce and some steamed vegetables of your choice.

Salmon on Croute pre-oven  Salmon en Croute - cooked

Salmon en Croute served

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F – Fig and Almond Tart

My fig and almond tart takes enough effort to blitz together a few key ingredients and slice up a handful of figs to produce a special dessert.
Fig and almond tart - ready to cook
Ingredients:
  • 350g all-butter puff pastry
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zested
  • 6-8 ripe figs, washed and dried
Recipe:
  1. Heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle approximately 34cm x 18cm.
  3. Beat the double cream and egg yolk together and use to brush the edges of the pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry over to make a 1cm wide border. Brush with more of the glaze and chill the pastry on a baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. The idea here is to produce a frame of pastry to hold in all the fig juices and almond and lemon mixture.
  4. In a food processor, add the ground almonds, caster sugar, softened butter, egg, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Whizz together until smooth – you will probably need to use a spatula to push in all the bits stuck on the side. Don’t worry if the mixture is thick, it’s meant to be.
  5. Spread the almond filling over the bottom of the pastry and chill for 10 minutes while you prepare the figs.
  6. Cut each fig into quarters through the stalk. Arrange the figs cut-side up over the almond mixture. Slide the baking tray into oven and cook the tart for about 35-45 minutes until golden.
  7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Fig and almond tart