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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Fancify Your Fish!

Fancify Your Fish!

Dinner parties are always fun to have, especially if you like to cook, and enjoy entertaining. Sometimes you just serve a myriad of Hors d’oeuvre or a soup, salad and some sort of main entrée, or you can fancy it up a bit and make something that will make a nice appearance when served.

Beef Wellington is a traditional English preparation of beef tenderloin coated with pâté (often pâté de foie gras) and duxelles, (minced mixture of mushrooms or mushroom stems, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter, and reduced to a paste) which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. There are several theories regarding the origin of Beef Wellington, but bottom line is that it is a wonderful addition to any party! “Wellington” is sometimes informally used to describe other dishes in which meat is baked in a puff pastry; the most common variations are sausage Wellington, lamb Wellington, and salmon Wellington.

When I first attempted to make salmon Wellington, I never knew it even existed. I just knew that Beef Wellington was a fancy dish, makes a nice presentation and if cooked right, delicious. HOWEVER, I like my beef grilled and rare. I also don’t like soggy pastry which can sometimes happen as the beef cooks. So, I came across a recipe for beef Wellington, and for the heck of it decided to try salmon instead. The first time was challenging to make since I am a neat freak. However, the more it was made, the easier and prettier it became. This is a great meal to serve to special people and for special occasions.
Hope you enjoy this dish!

Salmon Wellington Dinner
Ingredients:
1 package puff pastry sheets
2-lb. salmon filet, skinless
8 oz. mushrooms
1 small onion
Spinach leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon port or madeira wine
1 tablespoon half & half or heavy cream
1 egg yolk
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Puff pastry is easier to handle if it is at room temperature. However, you don’t want it to be too warm, or it will become difficult to handle again. Like Goldilocks, it has to be “just right.”

In a food processor, mince the onion and mushrooms until it is almost like a purée. In a medium to large frying pan, melt the butter and add the mushroom/onion mixture. Cook until the water from the mushrooms evaporates and the onions are tender. Add the flour and cook for about a minute before adding the port and cream. Stir while still cooking until the mixture is thickened and resembles pate. Add some salt and pepper to taste, and put to the side to cool.

Dry the salmon with a paper towel and cut into 4 squares — try to make them even so that everyone has the same serving size. Season the pieces with salt and pepper.

Beat the yolk a bit and add about a tablespoon of water. On a floured pastry/dough board, lay out one of the puff pastry sheets and with a rolling pin, roll the sheet to make it just a bit larger and thinner. You can use a pizza cutter to cut the sheet into 4 equal pieces. Place two pieces of salmon on two of the four squares. Spoon on some of the mushroom mixture, and then place a couple of spinach leaves on the top of each mushroom coated salmon piece. Brush some egg wash around each piece of salmon and then cover each piece with the other squares of pastry. Make sure you seal the two squares together minus any air that may be caught between the two pieces. With a beveled ravioli cutter, cut around each piece of salmon to make a nice, neat pocket of salmon. Repeat the process with the other two pieces of salmon. If you feel creative and artsy, you can make leaves, flowers, initials or any type of decorative symbol to be put on each pocket with the left-over pastry. First brush the egg wash on each pocket (this ensures a beautiful golden hue), then you can put on your decorative creation, and follow with a final egg wash brushing. Place the pockets in a baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven. If your salmon pieces are really large or thick, they may cook for longer than 20 minutes. If very thin, of course they would cook faster. Just don’t assume that the fish is cooked just because the pastry is golden brown. You may have to cut into one to check the doneness of the fish.

This can be served with mashed cauliflower and broccolini, sautéed with garlic, olive oil and a teaspoon or two of butter. When you’re cleaning up after making the fish, don’t wash the food processor’s bowl; use it to puree the cauliflower after cooking it, and add some butter, salt, pepper and onion powder. Keep processing until the cauliflower has a nice texture and is smooth like mashed potatoes. The plate will be green, white and pink — a great presentation. And don’t forget the lemon wedge!

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