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

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Salmon en Croûte was a first for me. I was happy to learn that for such an elegant-looking dish, it’s not very hard to make. Salmon en Croûte is typically made with homemade short-crust pastry (similar to puff pastry) but many home cooks use store-bought puff pastry instead.

I have made puff pastry before (for the Daring Bakers, in fact), but I chose to try something different this time and made my Salmon en Croûte with an unusual, somewhat healthier pastry dough from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook.

The recipe below makes quite a but of dough; knowing that I was going to cook this dish just for myself, I cut the ingredients in half.

Yogurt Dough
from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Ingredients:

1 cup plain yogurt
2 sticks organic butter, softened
3 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour or spelt flour
2 tsp. salt

Directions:
Cream yogurt with butter. Blend in flour and salt. Let stand, covered, overnight, and then wrap in plastic or parchment and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Use unbleached white flour to keep it from sticking when rolling it out.

For the Salmon En Croûte:
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1/2 recipe yogurt dough, above (or use homemade shortcrust pastry or puff pastry or an all-butter store-bought puff pastry)
6 oz. wild salmon
2 large handfuls baby arugula (or spinach or watercress)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 Tb. mascarpone cheese (or organic cream cheese)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 egg, beaten with a fork- for egg wash

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Put the yogurt and mascarpone or cream cheese in a food processor or blender with the arugula and blend until you have a creamy green purée. Season with salt and pepper.

Roll the dough out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick). Put the salmon in the middle. Spoon some of the sauce onto the salmon.

rawsalmonondough

Fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the seam 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, but make sure it is sealed or it may open up when cooking.

Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the leftover pastry to disguise the seam if you like.

salmonbeforebaking

Brush with the egg glaze.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the 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 test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. Serve with more of the arugula puree as a sauce.

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Check out The Daring Kitchen Blogroll to see what my fellow Daring Cooks came up with!

Menu For Hope 6

menuforhopeEach year in December, food bloggers from all over the world participate in a charity event called Menu for Hope. Menu for Hope was started by Pim of Chez Pim as a response to the devastating Tsunami five years ago, and the event has grown each year, raising over $250,000 toward ending world hunger through the UN World Food Program.

To quote Pim, “The WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good. This year, we are supporting a new initiative at the WFP called Purchase for Progress (P4P). P4P enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP’s global operation. P4P helps farmers improves farming practices and puts more cash directly into their pockets in return for their crops. This will also help buoy local economy by creating jobs and income locally. We food bloggers understand the importance of buying locally and supporting our local farms, P4P helps do the same for farmers in low income countries around the world.”

You can find for more information on P4P here.

menuforhopelarge

Menu for Hope is a like a giant online raffle. Bloggers from across the globe offer all sorts of great bid items. If you want to win one of them, all you have to do is donate $10 toward the charity. Each $10 spent gives you the chance to win a particular bid item.

Since Healthy Green Kitchen hasn’t been around all that long (I started this blog in May), I haven’t participated before. But when I heard about Menu for Hope 6, I really wanted to get involved. I have something pretty cool to give away, and I’ll be announcing it on Monday, December 14th when the event goes “live” online.

I think Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef says it best: “we food bloggers are such a lucky lot…we have enough food on our tables that we can take the time to photograph it. It’s good to be reminded of that blessing. And give back to others, if we can.”

So check back here next week so you can learn about what I (and all the other participating bloggers out there!) am giving away. I’ll tell you how to purchase your $10 tickets, and of course the more you buy, the greater your chances of winning. It’s all for such a great cause, so I do hope you’ll help out:)

To learn more about Menu for Hope 6, please visit Pim’s Blog!

latkes

The Jewish holiday Hannukah (The Festival of Lights) begins tomorrow night. Food-wise for me, that means pretty much one thing. Latkes.

Latkes are pancakes made from grated potatoes and onion. They are fried in oil (to symbolize the one day’s worth of oil that miraculously burned for 8 days so many years ago) to crisp deliciousness. While there are many ways to make latkes, one thing is for sure: you want to make sure they don’t turn out soggy by pressing as much water out of the grated potatoes as possible.

While purists will say that there should be no flour or other fillers added to potato pancakes and that they should be fried very thin, I find that adding 2 tablespoons of flour (or matzoh meal or leftover mashed potatoes, if you have them), helps everything stay together nicely (you’ll end up with thicker latkes, though, like the ones in the picture above). The egg acts as a binder, as well, though I’ve made them without eggs and they worked out just fine. If you are looking for even thicker latkes, you can add an additional egg and a bit more flour (or matzoh meal or leftover mashed potatoes).

While you may, of course, grate the potatoes by hand, it is much much easier to use a food processor. In fact, I initially got my food processor because my family loves latkes so much. It really makes preparing them a snap; so much so that my kids are more likely to ask for and get these than they are regular pancakes on weekend mornings (and now I use the food processor for so many other tasks so I’m so happy I have it).

Once you master traditional potato pancakes, you can branch out and vary them in numerous ways. I’ve added grated apple and different herbs such as chives and parsley; I’ve used shallot and garlic instead of onion; I’ve made sweet potato zucchini latkes with ginger, cilantro, and chilies and I’ve seen recipes featuring parsnips and carrots, as well (Joan Nathan has some great recipes in her book Jewish Cooking in America).

Grapeseed oil is my frying oil of choice when it comes to latkes (for sweet potato latkes, I generally use in coconut oil).

Latkes are best when eaten right after they’ve cooked, but if absolutely necessary, you can freeze them and then warm them in a 350°F oven before serving.

By the way, this is my entry for Holiday Food Fest, hosted this week by Shirley from Gluten Free Easily!

How to Make Latkes

yield: 12-24 depending on how big they are

Ingredients:

*2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (or use starchy baking potatoes like russet or Idaho), peeled
*1 onion
*1 egg, beaten
*Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
*2 Tb. all purpose flour or matzoh meal or mashed potatoes
*Grapeseed oil for frying

Directions:

1. Using a hand grater or a food processor, grate the potatoes and the onion. Place in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and squeeze out the water.

2. Mix the potato and onion in a bowl with the egg, season with salt and pepper, and add the optional flour or mashed potatoes. Mix well.

3. Heat a cast iron skillet or a griddle and coat with a thin layer of the oil (about 1/2 inch). Place spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the oil, flattening each one with a spatula.

4. Fry several minutes, until golden brown, and then flip over and continue frying until both sides are well browned. Drain on paper towels. Add additional oil to the pan as needed to fry the rest of the latkes.

5. Serve immediately with crème fraîche or organic sour cream and applesauce.

Do you have an interesting variation on latkes? I’d love to hear about it!