The December 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.
You can find the recipes for all the elements of the challenge here1.
I had planned to prepare the dish on Sunday December 6, the plan entailing making homemade cream cheese, but a set of unforeseen circumstances subverted my plans. And then forgetfulness set in and the day I prepared another batch of homemade cream cheese (the previous one having been rapidly completely consumed), I realized that it was the day I was supposed to publish my post about the whole recipe. However, I wasn't going to let embarrassment have the last word, so here I am, late to be sure, but still happy to have fulfilled the challenge.
Although the recipe allowed us a choice of shortcrust or puff pastry, I decided to use the former, because I had never made shortcrust pastry for a savory dish. In Italy, it is called pasta brisée (from the French pâte brisée). The use of a food processor makes preparing this pastry really easy. My homemade cream cheese turned a lovely pastel green when I processed it with some ruchetta (or rucola, arugula) and some spinach (spinaci). I made the dish
twice three times, the first time with halibut and the other times with Pacific salmon (not farmed), and both renditions were well received at the table. I halved the recipe for the pasta brisée, because I meant to bake a small piece of fish, then further divided it in half, because for my first try I could not get some skinned salmon fillet. I must admit that I was a bit of a Scrooge when it came to apportioning the pasta brisée to each piece of fish and therefore the wrap opened up a bit during baking, but that did not have a negative effect on the flavor of the dish, which was excellent.
Update (December 18, 2009) — I debated whether to write a new post to show today's much better rendition of the recipe, then opted for an update to the already existing one, given that I published it only yesterday. I made another half-batch of pasta brisée, this time using 1/4 of whole-wheat pastry flour and 3/4 regular flour. Perfection is a long way away, but there are signs of improvement.
I can see myself preparing salmone in crosta again in the future, maybe for a dinner with guests. Let me know if you would like to be invited.
You will find a lot of photographs to admire, when you browse the creations of my fellow Daring Cooks. A special thanks to Simone for a very nice challenge.
1 To make the shortcrust pastry, I used twice as much water as indicated in the recipe.