Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saturday Night Dinner Party

On the weekend I had a couple of friends & their son over for a bit of a dinner party. As I have just started doing ‘dinners’ again I went all out & spent the day in a baking/cooking frenzy. I thought all of the food was delicious & intend to keep all the recipes to make again & again. In particular the flatbread was so easy & the flavour combinations you could come up with are endless though the garlic & rosemary will be hard to beat, even Chloe loved it, the other little boy didn’t. I am very impressed, Chloe seems to already have an advanced palate, accepting tastes that other kids seem to just spit out. Her is the menu

To start with, the above mentioned Garlic & Rosemary Oil Flatbread, (note I did use the salt as I love the stuff)

For the main course we had Salmon en croute with pea puree served with mashed potato & a garden (from mine!) salad. I though it looked very pretty with the contrast of the pink salmon against the bright green pea mixture all enclosed in the golden brown flaky pastry. It was quite easy to prepare too, I made the pea puree & crème fraiche mixture earlier in the day so all I had to do was assemble & cook when needed. I wasn’t game to do this before as I wasn’t sure if the salmon would make the pastry go all soggy & uncrispable, it would be even better if you could have the whole dish ready to just whack in the oven at the last minute. I loved it though it was a bit on the dry side as I forgot to serve with the lovely crème fraiche herb mix on the side, I kicked myself when I remembered as it was also so delicious & really would have brought the whole dish together, oh well maybe next time I will have my head together & actually get it out of the fridge.

Salmon en croute with Pea Puree

Based on the recipe in a recent Delicious issue

3 cups podded fresh or frozen peas
1 tbspn each chopped mint & flat leaf parsley
200g crème fraiche
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
4 spring onions, finely chopped
4 puff pastry sheets, thawed
Plain flour, to dust
800g piece salmon, skinned, pin-boned (preferably center cut)
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180c. Place a baking tray inside the oven & allow to heat up. Cook peas in a pan of boiling salted water for 5-6 minutes or 3 minutes if frozen. Drain & cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine the mint and parsley with the crème fraiche & season. Place 1 tablespoon in a food processor with the peas, lemon zest, onion & pulse to roughly chop. Keep remaining crème fraiche in the fridge until ready to serve.

Lay 2 sheets of pastry down on a sheet of baking paper & join the centre edges to form one long piece. Pile pea mixture down the centre, spread out to the width of the salmon. Season the salmon then place best side down, on top of the pea puree. Brush the exposed pastry around the edges with the beaten egg. Join the other 2 sheets of pastry together & place on top of the salmon, press edges to seal & cut away excess pastry. Carefully turn the package over, and using a small knife, score the top of the pastry in a criss cross pattern, taking care not to cut all of the way through (like I did – oops). Brush with egg & transfer to baking tray in the hot oven & bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Rest for 2 minutes before serving with the herbed crème fraiche.


And finally dessert was this wicked & decadent apple & rhubarb pie. The pastry was really very good & with 300g of butter & 200g icing sugar plus the rest why wouldn’t it be? It was also nice & light & not tough at all. The filling was so much nicer than just your average apple pie filling, the rhubarb gave it some extra sweetness & the ginger helped to spice it up & make it a real adult pie – the kids were not impressed at all though Chloe was quite partial to the pastry. Again though, I forgot to heat up the syrup to serve with it though in this case I don’t think it did any harm as the calvados cream was more than enough to go with it. Also by this time we had crammed so much food in such a small space of time (the guests had a 2 year old that had to go home to bed quite early) that hardly anyone could even fit the pie in. I didn’t have a problem with this as we have been happily living on leftovers since. Again I made the pastry, filling & cream in advance & assembled at the last minute – same note re assembly – does anyone know – could you put it together & cook later without the whole thing becoming a soggy mess?

Apple, rhubarb & ginger pie with calvados cream

Based on the recipe published in a recent Delicious issue, extracted from Philip Johnson’s ‘Decadence’

100g unsalted butter
6 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, thickly sliced
370g brown sugar
10 rhubarb stalks, trimmed, strings removed, cut into 3sm pieces
1 cinnamon quill
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tspn grated fresh ginger
grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten

300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g icing sugar
2 egg yolks, plus 2 lightly beaten eggs, to brush
500g plain flour, sifted

Calvados cream
1 cup (250ml) pure (thin) cream
2 tbsn icing sugar
¼ cup (60ml) Calvados (apple brandy)

For the pastry, cream butter & sugar together in a food processor. Add egg yolks, mix well, then add the flour & mix to just bring the pastry together, add 1-2 tbspns chilled water if necessary. Knead lightly on a floured surface & refrigerate for 1 hour.

Grease a 24cm loose bottomed tart pan. Roll out half the pastry to 3mm thick & gently ease into the pan, trimming the edges. Refrigerate for a further 30 minutes. Roll out remaining pastry to 3mm thick to use as the pie lid, enclose in plastic wrap & refrigerate until needed.

Blind bake pastry shell in a preheated 180c oven. Cover base & sides of pastry with baking paper & fill with pastry weights, bake for 10-12 minutes, remove lining & weights, brush with some of the beaten egg & bake for a further 5-8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in a heavy based pan over medium heat. Increase heat to high, add apple & cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar & rhubarb and stir to combine. Add the cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg & ginger & cook for 6-8 minutes until the fruit just begins to soften. Stir in the zest & juice. Remove from heat & strain, reserving the cooking liquid & discard the cinnamon quill & vanilla pod. Spread the fruit in a shallow dish & allow to cool.

Spoon the filling into the pastry case, brush edges with egg, then top with pastry lid. Trim edges & crimp together to seal. Brush top with egg. Make 2 incisions in to the top to allow steam to escape, then bake for 40 minutes or until golden.

Meanwhile, in a pan, bring the reserved cooking liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat & simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Set aside.

For Cream, whisk cream with sugar until soft peaks form. Fold through Calvados, refrigerate until required.

Serve wedges of pie with syrup drizzled over the top & a dollop of cream.


Some people seem to think I am crazy cooking so much but as you know I love it & love the excuse to cook all day & things I wouldn’t normally do just for the 2 of us


Kat said...

You're on fire! Pardon the image. This dinner sounds fantastic. Don't know what effect pre-assembly of the pie would have.

Arfi Binsted said...

I'd love to come over for dinner! i love that pie!!

kitchen hand said...

Great winter fare.

Cakelaw said...

I love the look of the apple and rhubarb pie - scrumptious!