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Daring Cooks - Salmon en Croute & Beef Wellington

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

Part I: Salmon en Croute

Time flies. I'd normally check what the month's challenge is on the 17th (the day the challenge is announced) but almost forgot about this month's until 2 weeks ago. I was kind of relieved when I saw the challenge - salmon en croute as it's relatively simple and straightforward (if you're not making your own pastry). And was also excited as I've never had it. When I saw "Watercress, rocket (arugula) and spinach" in the ingredient list, I was like "huh?!", 120g of each? Or 40g of each? What a waste if I just use a bit of each. Then when I went to shop for the ingredients, the wild boar saw this at the salad mix section:


A 120g watercress, rocket, spinach mixed salad packet! YAY!

I happened to have some frozen dill, so I added that as well. Added mustard for a bit of kick. The sauce was really simple to make and very tasty, I'm thinking of a pasta dish with the sauce now...delicious! The fish was perfectly, very moist and tender. The wild boar stated that it would be nicer with puff pastry and I agree. We prefer light, buttery and flaky pastry rather than biscuity and crumbly.

salmon en croute 04

  • 500g salmon fillet - skinless, boneless
  • 375g shortcrust pastry (store bought, ready rolled)
  • 150g mascarpone
  • 120g watercress, rocket, spinach mixed salad packet
  • 20g dill
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Agave nectar/ sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
For sauce:

  • Put the mascarpone in a food processor with the watercress, spinach and rocket, dill and whizz until you have a creamy green puree.
  • Add mustard.
  • Season well salt, pepper and sugar.
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To assemble:

  • Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a baking sheet.
  • Put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under.
  • Spoon half of the watercress mixture (or more) 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.
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  • Brush with the egg glaze.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned.
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  • To test wether 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 watercress puree as a sauce.

Part II: Beef Wellington

The wild boar insisted that I made beef wellington as well. He's a real beef lover. I was happy to as I've always wanted to try this classic British recipe. This dish is traditionally prepared by smearing fillet of beef with pâté (often pâté de foie gras) and duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. The original recipe asked for parma ham (prosciutto) wrapped beef but I used pâté instead. The dish was really rich and hearty. Everything was perfect except for the meat! I used topside instead of fillet as my local supermarket had a limited range of cuts available then, and it was not a good piece of meat, it tasted a bit weird to me (although I bought it only a day before I cooked it). The meat was stringy too. I would definitely try this recipe again with a better cut of meat.

beef wellington 16

  • 580g beef topside/ toprump (not recommended, use beef fillet instead)
  • 1 tbs English mustard
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 90g Chicken liver pate
  • 375g puff pastry (store bought, ready rolled)
Mushroom duxelle:
  • 25g dried wild mushrooms
  • 250g button mushrooms - finely chopped
  • 150g (about 5) shallots - finely chopped
  • 1 spring thyme - stems removed, use only leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For herb crepes:
  • 50g plain flour
  • 125ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs mixed herbs
  • 1/2 tbs butter - melted

For beef:

  • Sear beef on all sides on a very hot pan.
  • Remove any strings.
  • Mix together mustard salt and pepper. Rub this all other beef and leave to cool.
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For mushroom duxelle:

  • In a bowl, add in dried mushrooms and enough water to cover mushrooms. Soak until soft (about 1 hr).
  • Remove dried mushrooms and squeeze dry and chop finely. Save soaking water for later use.
  • Heat up a bit of oil in a pan.
  • Add shallots, fry until soft and translucent.
  • Mix in button and dried mushrooms, stir fry until soft.
  • Add soaking water, leave to cook until all the liquid has evaporated, leaving a thick paste.
  • Add the thyme leaves and some seasoning and keep cooking for a few minutes. Cool.
beef wellington 01

For herb crepes:

  • Whisk together flour, milk and egg until smooth.
  • Mix in mixed herbs. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins.
  • After resting, add melted butter into the crepe butter.
  • Heat up a 15cm pan and oil it lightly.
  • Pour in enough batter (about 3/4 to 1 ladle) to make a thin layer on the base of the pan, cook until the top surface sets and then turn over and cook briefly.
  • Remove and repeat with the rest of the batter. This will make a couple more than you need so choose the thinnest ones for the recipe.
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To assemble:

  • Lay a large sheet of cling-film on a kitchen surface and put two crepes down on it, overlapping a little.
  • Spread pate evenly onto crepes.
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  • Spread the mushroom mixture over pate.
  • Put the beef on one end of the crepes.
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  • Roll the cling-film up, taking the crepe with it, to wrap the beef completely into a nice neat log. 2 15cm crepes weren't enough, I had to patch it up with another 1/2 crepe.
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  • Chill for 1 hour.
  • Roll out pastry, remove the clingfilm and wrap the beef in the pastry like a parcel, with the ends tucked under.
  • Trim to keep it nice and neat.
  • Brush with egg, score with shallow lines across the top and chill for 20 minutes.
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  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Cook for 20 mins or until the pastry is nice and browned. The best way to test if the meat is done to your liking is to neatly and carefully stick a skewer into the beef, count to three and then test it against your inner wrist. If it is cold, the beef will be raw, if it is warm then the beef will be rare and if it's hot, it'll be cooked through.
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  • Let rest for 20 mins before carving.

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