This should have been easier
I've been really excited about joining the Daring Cooks. I was happy with this recipe being my first because it is a pretty simple concept. Honestly, compared to some of the other recent challenges I've seen the Daring Cooks create (pho noodles, sushi, etc.), salmon en croute seemed like a good one to get my feet wet with. For whatever reason, however, I completely struggled with this recipe. We'll get to that in a minute. Here is the recipe, posted by Simone from Junglefrog Cooking (a really gorgeous blog):
Salmon en Croute
5.2 ounces mascarpone cheese
4.2 ounces watercress, arugula, and spinach *I used equal parts of these greens*
17.6 ounces shortcrust pastry
17.6 ounce skinless salmon filet
17.6 ounce skinless salmon filet
1 medium sized egg
3.2 cups all-purpose flour
7 ounces cold butter
pinch of salt
Heat oven to 390 degrees F. Blend the mascarpone cheese with the greens in the food processor until you have a creamy green puree.
A seemingly straightforward step. This is where I hit my first problem. I don't have a food processor, so I usually try to blend things in my blender.
This stuff did NOT want to come together.
The mixture was really dry (and rather bland), so I added some good olive oil, lemon juice, a little tarragon vinegar, salt and pepper. FINALLY, it came together. We're talking like 30 minutes later, minimum.
It was actually really pretty when it finally came together.
For the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. You can do this with food processor. Hmm. Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tablespoons cold water and mix a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling wrap and chill.
Okay, problem number 2. This dough would NOT come together. It was extremely crumbly. I was finally (after a lot of struggle) able to get it into a ball to chill it.
Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it.
Once I started trying to roll this out, it completely fell apart. I'm talking like, I'm about to have a meltdown. I'm grabbing my jacket and my keys to go buy puff pastry, and Brandon intervenes. (He was hungry).
Knight in shining armor. Note the glass of wine.
Brandon, who has never baked a thing in his life, would not let me give up on this crust. So he *laboriously* rolled it out for me, until we finally had something that would work as an *albeit overworked* crust.
Lay the salmon on the pastry. If it has a thinner tail, tuck it under. Season with salt and pepper.
gorgeous piece of salnon
Spoon half of the watercress mixture on top of the salmon.
Fold the pastry over in 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 properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts if you like. Brush with beaten egg.
Bake on oiled baking sheet for 30 minutes or until 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 touch it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. Serve with the rest of the watercress puree as a sauce.
Not as beautiful as I imagined it, but it had a lot of love put into it.
If I were to do it again, I would have just used my favorite pie crust recipe. It tasted pretty good, but for all the work, I would just as soon have seared that gorgeous piece of fish and served it with some simple veggies. Who needs all that pastry?
Not trying to sound bitter. In the end, we enjoyed a nice meal with a good bottle of Pinot Noir and laughed about it. Maybe I'll have better luck on the next challenge!