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.
As with last month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge, I was really happy to find that one of my favourite bloggers, Simone from Junglefrog Cooking, was hosting the December Daring Cooks’ challenge. Simone is an incredible cook and photographer: her recipes nearly always inspire me, by which I mean that they are both appetizing and accessible (which isn’t as easy a combination as you might think).
The recipe she chose for the challenge was a true reflection of her style of cooking: simple and fuss-free, yet visually impressive and full of possibilities. The concept of salmon en croûte is straightforward: a skinless filet of salmon, brushed with sauce and wrapped in shortcrust pastry, then baked. But it makes a great impression at the dinner table, because it just looks – and sounds – so sophisticated. “This evening’s menu features salmon en croûte.” See?
This may be the very first time I have no mishaps to report on a challenge. Everything went perfectly. Yes, I could have done a prettier job at folding my pastry around the salmon and brushing it with egg wash for that nice, even, golden colour. And yes, little hearts aren’t exactly seasonal – but I didn’t have any stars or Christmas tree cookie-cutters around. And hearts seemed like a better idea than rabbits or flowers.
But other than that, everything went just fine. I usually have trouble with baked fish: they often come out underdone and I have to pop them back in the oven. This time, however, the salmon was perfectly cooked: look at how nicely it flakes, while still being moist!
I didn’t innovate much with the sauce, because it’s hard to think of a better salmon-compatible combination than cream cheese, dill, and spinach. I used a little light sour cream to thin down the sauce and make it easier to spread (plain yogurt would also have done the trick). I served the dish with a side of sautéed asparagus.
Simone had provided us with an alternative recipe: beef wellington. I would have tried it if I’d had time, but it’s been kind of a rush, this month. Plus, although I love beef in nearly all its forms (tartare, carpaccio, steak, burger, stew), roast beef doesn’t rock my boat quite as much: I’ll choose baked fish over it on most days.
And that’s really all there was to this month’s challenge. The concept of anything “en croûte” is definitely appealing, and I’d love to adapt it with different ingredients and shapes.
Please check here at the Daring Kitchen for the challenge recipe, and here for the other Daring Cooks’ realizations. Thank you Simone, for this fun and delicious challenge!