Thursday, January 29, 2009

Salmon Tartare Cornets

As the end of January looms, it is yet again that time to share this month's Daring Baker's Challenge with you. The Daring Bakers were kind enough to present two options: one very sweet and one very savory. I know this may shock all of my faithful readers out there, but I chose the savory route! That's right, no sugar in this recipe. What I will tell you is that it was delicious! It was a crowd pleaser and one that I will keep in my bag to do over and over again.  And here is a secret:  It was easy.

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Now for those of us that really wanted to create a savory dish, they offered up Cornets by the renowned Thomas Keller. As soon as I saw this as an option, I knew that I had to attempt to feebly walk in Mr. Keller's footsteps and try those cornets. They were the same cornets  that I had enjoyed in a distant memory at the French Laundry. Would mine disappoint or stain my most glorious dining experience?

In the end, they were scrumptious. Due to my finicky oven, I didn't achieve the all-over golden brown color that Mr. Keller always delivers.  However, I will tell you, they tasted awesome. The flavors were perfectly balanced and when paired with champagne, I almost swooned.  In fact, I may have to book another reservation at The French Laundry to do an adequate comparison........ In the wise words of Cher Horowitz, "AS IF!"

Savory Cornet's filled with Salmon Tartare With Sweet Red Onion Creme Fraiche
From Thomas Keller "the French Laundry Cookbook"

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (65 grams/2.1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (= 2/3 teaspoon table salt)**
8 tablespoons (114 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
2 large egg whites, cold
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the softened butter until it is completely smooth and mayonnaise-like in texture. Using a stiff spatula or spoon, beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the softened butter by thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary and whisking until the batter is creamy and without any lumps. Transfer the batter to a smaller container, as it will be easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make a 4-inch hollow circular stencil. Place Silpat on the counter (it is easier to work on the Silpat before it is put on the sheet pan). Place the stencil in one corner of the sheet and, holding the stencil flat against the Silpat, scoop some of the batter onto the back of an offset spatula and spread it in an even layer over the stencil. Then run the spatula over the entire stencil to remove any excess batter. After baking the first batch of cornets, you will be able to judge the correct thickness. You may need a little more or less batter to adjust the thickness of the cornets.

There should not be any holes in the batter. Lift the stencil and repeat the process to make as many rounds as you have molds or to fill the Silpat, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cornets. Sprinkle each cornet with a pinch of black sesame seeds.

Place the Silpat on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the batter is set and you see it rippling from the heat. The cornets may have browned in some areas, but they will not be evenly browned at this point.

Open the oven door and place the baking sheet on the door.*** This will help keep the cornets warm as you roll them and prevent them from becoming too stiff to roll. Flip a cornet over on the sheet pan, sesame seed side down and place 4-1/2 inch cornet mold at the bottom of the round. If you are right-handed, you will want the pointed end on your left and the open end on your right. The tip of the mold should touch the lower left edge (at about 7 o'clock on a clock face) of the cornet.

Fold the bottom of the cornet and around the mold; it should remain on the sheet pan as you roll. Leave the cornet wrapped around the mold and continue to roll the cornets around molds; as you proceed, arrange the rolled cornets, seams side down, on the sheet pan so they lean against each other, to prevent from rolling.

When all the cornets are rolled, return them to the oven shelf, close the door, and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes to set the seams and color the cornets a golden brown. If the color is uneven, stand the cornets on end for a minute or so more, until the color is even. Remove the cornets from the oven and allow to cool just slightly, 30 seconds or so.
Gently remove the cornets from the molds and cool for several minutes on paper towels. Remove the Silpat from the baking sheet, wipe the excess butter from it, and allow it to cool down before spreading the next batch. Store the cornets for up to 2 days (for maximum flavor) in an airtight container.

Salmon Tartare
4 ounces salmon fillet, skin and any bones removed, finely minced
3/4 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 lemon oil
1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced chives
1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
small pinch of freshly ground white pepper

With a sharp knife, finely mince the salmon filet. Do not use a food processor. Mincing by hand will ensure the right texture. In a small bowl stir in the remaining ingredients and toss with the salmon. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up 12 hours.

Sweet Red Onion Creme Fraiche
1 tablespoon finely minced red onions
1/2 cup creme fracie
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper to taste

Place the red onions in a small strainer and rinse them under cold water for several seconds. Dry them in paper towels. In a small metal bowl, whisk the creme fraiche for about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until it holds soft peaks. Fold in the chopped onions and season to tastes with salt and white pepper. Transfer the onion cream to a container to cover and refrigerate until ready to serve or up to 6 hours.

To Assemble:
Fill just the top 1/2 inch of each cornet with the onion cream, leaving the bottom of the cone empty. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the tartare over the onion cream and mold it into a dome resembling a scoop of ice cream.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Use Your Words

It's not like I'm an award winning author for goodness sake!  It seems impossible that I'm suffering from writer's block with my little ol' blog.  But, I am, sigh.  I baked these little gems for the holidays - twice.  They were that good.  I've been wanting to share them with you, but I just couldn't find the words.  

The first time I tasted these cookies I was utterly giddy, ridiculously happy, and quite anxious to write about them.  They were awesome.  When baked, the result becomes a buttery tender cookie that pops with the taste and the color of cranberry.  If you're not a cranberry fan, I imagine that you could substitute the cranberries for another fruit, though I couldn't do it.  Not after I tasted them.  The cranberries add the music to the dull dinner party.  

So, I can't explain why I had such writer's block.  Sometimes, I suppose, you just need to curl up in a comfy chair, close your eyes as you remember the aroma of fresh baked cookies, and then use your words.

Cranberry Walnut Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of coarse salt
2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars in a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until just combined.  Reduce speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Don't over mix. Stir in cranberries, walnuts, and coconut.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake cookies until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire wrack to cool.