Thursday, March 29, 2012

Atlantic Salmon with Leeks

I decided to dive into another cookbook to change things up a little...what housewife doesn't enjoy a good challenge here and again? Thomas Keller's book, Bouchon, is french cooking simplified. The art of true cooking is taking the simplest and purest ingredients and elevating them to excellence. Have I sold you yet??? Lets begin.

What You'll Need

1 1/2 pounds of leeks

Sauce (Beurre Blance)

1/4 Cup thinly sliced shallots
1 large thyme sprig
1 large parsley sprig
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2/3 cup dry white wine (sauvignon blanc)
1/3 cup champagne vinger
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and chilled
2-3 tablespoon chicken stock
1 teaspoon minced chives
1 teaspoon tarragon


Four 6-ounce piece of salmon fillet, pin bones removed
Kosher salt
Canola Oil
1/2 cup chicken stock

The beauty of this dish is the variety of textures. By searing the salmon on only one side, you will pair a crispy side with the near raw texture of the other side. If you prefer your fish cooked a little more, preheat your oven to 325.

For the leeks:

This recipe only calls for the light green section of the leeks; the darker green parts can be reserved for another use. Cut off the dark green leaves and remove and discard the outer tough layer. Cut the light green sections crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. (you should have approximately 4 cups)

Place the rounds in  a large bowl of warm water and swish them around gently to remove any dirt, careful do not break up the rounds.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Prepare an ice bath. Add half the leeks to boil for about 5 minutes, again careful to not break the rounds. Once leeks are tender, with a slotted spoon, remove from pot and add to ice bath to stop the cooking...this is quick, no more than 15 secs. Set aside and drain on paper towels. Repeat for the other half of your leeks.  If the centers have fallen out you can use these leeks for another use later, for example a salad or soup.

For the Beurre Blanc Sauce: 

Put the shallots, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a medium sauce pan and add white wine and vinegar. Bring to boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce. 

To finish sauce, add the heavy cream to the reduction, place pan over medium heat, and summer to reduce the liquid by half. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Begin adding butter one piece at a time, whisking constantly to keep sauce emulsified; add each new piece of butter before the previous one has completely melted. The sauce should remain warm to the touch but never simmering. 

For the Salmon:

For crispy skin, you want to remove all the moisture from the skin. Take a knife and rub it back and forth against the skin drawing up liquid. Be sure to only apply light pressure as you don't want to flatten the fillet. Repeat till you knife doesn't draw any more moisture. 

Season the skin side down of the fillets with salt and pepper. Season the other side with salt only. Heat 1/8inch of canola oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, place the fillet skin side down in hot oil and cook one side only for about 5 minutes. The fish is done when the bottom is crisp and the fillet is cooked about half way up the flesh; the top should be rare. If you liked your fish cooked a little more, this is where you can place in heated oven..I wouldn't recommend it though. 

To finish:

Put leeks in a medium sauce pan, add 1/2 cup chicken stock, salt and pepper, and cooked till heated through. 

Gently warm beurre blanc and stir in tarragon and chives.

Divide the sauce among four plates, spoon a band around the center of each plate and then rotating the plate to spread the sauce. Using a slotted spoon, mound the leeks in the center. Top each with a salmon fillet. 

Bon Appetit

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

Continuing to work through my Ad Hoc cooking book by Thomas Keller, I was so excited to find a recipe for Beef Stroganoff. There are so many interpretations of this dish, some made with beef stock, some made with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup; Thomas Keller's recipe is a dressed up version of the classic and is just as much about the mushrooms as the beef. 
What You'll Need:
Cream Sauce
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup chopped onion
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups heavy cream
1 sachet of 1 bay leaf, 3 thyme sprigs, 10 peppercorns
1/3 cup créme fraîche (you can substitute with sour cream if you need to)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons  canola oil
1 pound  cremini mushrooms sliced 1/4 inch thick
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
braised beef ribs, chilled
pappardelle noodles (or whatever flat noodles you prefer)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
gray salt or coarse sea salt
To make the Cream Sauce

Process the mushrooms for the sauce in a food processor until finely chopped. (Can I just say I LOVE my food processor! If you don't have one yet it is worth investing in...easier to prepare dishes and you can rinse off quickly and put in dishwasher.)
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.
Pour in the cream, add the sachet and bring to a boil. To make a sachet, use cheese clothe (or you can you gauze) and put your ingredients in and tie with cooking string. 

Reduce to a medium-low and simmer until the cream is reduced by about one-third, about 35 minutes. When the cream has thickened, discard the sachet, and strain the mushroom bits out. Heat the sauce on medium low heat, stir in the créme fraîche and add 3/4 of the sautéed mushrooms. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat. It will be very thick.
To make Mushrooms and Beef

Heat a large frying pan over medium-heat and add the butter and oil. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and brown without stirring for about 3 minutes. Flip and brown, about 1-2 minutes.  They key here is not to crowd your mushrooms so work in batches to cook them all. Also, if you toss or turn your mushrooms too early or often, they will steam instead of brown. 

Bring a giant pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pappardelle  or other noodles according to package directions. Drain.
Heat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the chilled short ribs into 2-inch cubes and brown in an oven safe pan, presentation-side down for about 2 minutes, flip and then transfer to the oven and heat for about 10 minutes.
Toss the pasta with butter and sauce. 
Arrange pasta on a platter and top with the remaining 1/4 sauteed mushrooms, browned short ribs, flat leaf parsley and salt.

I hope you all love this recipe as much as I did! It's a much more elegant version of this family style meal! 

Bon Appetit!