Seafood Tarte Soleil

Tarte Soleil or sun tart, is a stunning example of how the simplest recipe can be turned into an artistic creation. I’m forever looking for a new idea to incorporate seafood into our meals. I’ve never been a huge fan of puff pastry but it certainly does have its place. A flour, water and butter based preparation that has a neutral flavor makes puff pastry perfect for either sweet or savory dishes.

You have probably heard the phrase ‘laminated’ dough. This refers to the process of folding butter into dough multiple times to create very thin alternating layers of butter and dough. The gluten in the flour also gets developed during the folding and rolling process. This is unlike other baked goods where butter is creamed in with the sugar and flour. The laminated dough, when baked, results in a pastry with hundreds of flaky, airy layers.

The three original laminated dough’s are puff pastry, croissants and danish. Croissants and danish contain yeast, puff pastry does not. In addition, danish contains egg which the others don’t.

Whether you like this type of pastry or not, there is no denying, it has lent itself to many ‘creations’, giving them a unique taste, that most will enjoy.

With a nice combo of wild salmon and baby scallops inside my sun tart, it was not only a pretty presentation but had a great taste.

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Seafood Tarte Soleil
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine salmon, scallops (or shrimp), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into seafood mixture. Set aside in refrigerator.
  2. Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit a baking sheet at least 12 X 12-inch in size. Remove 1 sheet of thawed, puff pastry from refrigerator & roll out on 1 of the sheets of parchment to form an 11 1/2-inch square. Using a pot lid or bowl, cut the largest possible circle from the pastry. Transfer the pastry (on parchment) to baking sheet & place in refrigerator. Repeat procedure with the second piece of pastry.
  3. Remove the first pastry circle from the fridge. Spread the filling mixture on the circle, to within 1/4-1/2-inch of the outer edge. Use a pastry brush to lightly wet the edge of the pastry. Top with the second circle of pastry, using your fingers to lightly press the pastry together.
  4. Place a 2 1/2-inch diameter glass or jar lid in the center of the pastry. Use a ruler & the tip of a sharp paring knife to score the pastry from the edge of the glass to the outer edge of the pastry at 12, 3, 6 & 9 o'clock. Score each quarter in half, making 2 triangles. You will have 8 triangles when your'e done. Place tart in freezer for NO MORE than 5 minutes before continuing.
  5. Use a sharp scissors to cut each triangle cleanly along the score lines from the outer edge of the glass. Remove the glass. Place your index finger of your left hand at the top of a triangle (where the glass was). Use your right hand to twist that triangle 3 times. Go around the circle, repeating with each of the remaining triangles. Refrigerate tarte for at least another 5 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare egg wash & brush it over the tarte. Bake about 20 minutes. Rotate the tarte 180 degrees & lower the temperature to 375 F. Bake another 10 minutes or until a rich golden brown color. Remove from oven & transfer to serving dish. Nice to serve with a dill cream sauce & fresh steamed broccoli florets.

Pumpkin Chai Cheesecake Trifle

In the winter of 2011, Brion and I spent a month travelling Turkey. While in Istanbul, we happened to be staying in a hotel next to a Starbucks  coffee shop. By chance I tasted a ‘Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte’. That unique flavor left a lasting memory with me. Back at home, I wanted to recreate that flavor. The recipe today is what developed from that memory.

The word trifle comes from the old French term, ‘trufle’ and literally means something whimsical or of little consequence.  In actual food terms, it’s anything but. A proper English trifle is made with real egg custard poured over sponge cake, soaked in fruit and sherry then topped with whipped cream.

Though a simple dessert to make, trifle looks gorgeous with its multiple layers, colors and textures. It is not only served as a dessert but used as a centerpiece on occasion.

Many puddings evolved as a way of using leftovers, thus trifle originating from stale cake. Some of the many cake choices are sponge, Genoise, ladyfingers, pound cake and macaroons. Alcohol used, often ranges greatly from sherry, white wine, rum, liqueurs and scotch as well as just using a fruit juice. In order for the flavors to marry properly, trifle needs about 8 hours of refrigeration time. In North America, trifle is synonymous with the festive Christmas season.

My blog picture is a PUMPKIN CHIA CHEESECAKE TRIFLE  that I made for a Christmas event. If you like pumpkin and cheesecake this trifle is for you! 

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Pumpkin Chai Cheesecake Trifle
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Course dessert
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Instructions
Pound Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 9-inch square pan with baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (through allspice). In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, egg white, milk, oil and pumpkin until thoroughly blended. Combine wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, stirring until just blended. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top.
  3. Bake until lightly browned & a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack & allow to cool completely. With a wooden skewer, poke holes in cake about 2-inches apart. Slowly pour 1/2 cup Apricot Brandy over cake. Refrigerate overnight.
Pumpkin Filling
  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese & pumpkin with a mixer until well blended. Add spices & dry pudding mix; beat until well blended. Gradually blend in milk.
Creme Filling
  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese with a mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Add dry pudding mix; blend well. Fold in thawed Cool Whip.
Topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, coarsely crush wafers; place in medium bowl. Add butter, nuts, sugar & 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice; mix well. Spread onto the bottom of a shallow pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown; cool. Break cooled, baked nut mixture into smaller pieces; store in airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.
ASSEMBLY
  1. Cut pound cake into 1-inch cubes. Line bottom of a straight-sided trifle bowl with 1/3 of cake cubes, 1/3 pumpkin filling, 1/3 creme filling & 1/3 of the nut mixture. Repeat 2 more times. Decorate as desired. Drizzle with bottled Dulce de Leche Creme.

Apricot-Spice Meatball Hors d’ Oeuvres

The humble meatball is one of the most versatile foods. They seem to exist in just about every culture and can be used in any number of ways, not only with pasta and rice but as a tasty little hors d’ oeuvres. 

I find apricots to be a good compliment to meatball hors d’ oeuvres. Using  Mediterranean (also known as Turkish) apricots is a good choice as their flesh is thicker and plumper as well as having great flavor.

Many people prefer to fry meatballs but it seems to me that usually ends up with a charred outside and they are still raw inside. Baking them in the oven will result in a much more even cooking. Personal choice I guess.

This recipe for  APRICOT-SPICE MEATBALLS  is one I’ve used many times over the years.    They work well at Christmas events when hot                      hors d’ oeuvres are in demand. Make the meatballs up, bake and freeze ahead of time — thaw when needed!  At serving time, make the spicy apricot nectar sauce and your ready to go.

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Apricot-Spice Meatball Hors d' Oeuvres
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Spiced Apricot Sauce
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Spiced Apricot Sauce
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Instructions
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan with foil; lightly grease. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs & milk. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in egg white, onion, apricots, salt, garlic & chili powder. Add ground pork & turkey; mix well. Shape meat mixture into 30 meatballs. Place on prepared baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked. Remove meatballs from pan to paper towels.
Spiced Apricot Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sauce ingredients. Cook & stir over medium heat until thickened & bubbly.
  2. Place meatballs in a slow cooker. Add sauce, stirring gently to coat. Turn heat setting to low. This should keep meatballs warm, while being used by guests for about 2 hours.
Recipe Notes
  • If you find your sauce gets to thick or you prefer it thinner to begin with, just use a little more apricot nectar.
  • This meat combination makes a real flavorful meatball.

Seafood Salmon Roulade

Today, July 25th, is my sister Loretta’s birthday. As I think of her with fondness on her day, I wanted to feature a special meal that I’m sure she would enjoy. I would much rather be making it for her but distance makes that impossible.

The entree I am preparing is WILD SALMON ROULADE stuffed with SHRIMP & SCALLOPS and served with DILL SAUCE.

Roulades have been around since the 18th century. The things that have made them so popular are that they are simple — once prepared they need little attention while cooking. They are versatile — any meat or fish that can be thinly sliced lengthwise will work. There are many options when it comes to the filling — anything that cooks faster than the outside is suitable. Elegant for entertaining — on the outside a delicate fillet of fish or meat; on the inside a hidden second flavor.

In this recipe, the salmon roulade is stuffed with shrimp and scallops and served with a delicate sauce.

Loretta is a few years older than I am so she has always been in my life. I have lots of wonderful memories from our ‘adventures’ while growing up on the farm together. Thank you, Loretta, for those beautiful moments in life that can never be brought back but I will treasure them in memories forever.

             OUR FAMILY CELEBRATES YOU WITH LOVE ON YOUR SPECIAL DAY!

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Seafood Salmon Roulade
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Instructions
Seafood Stuffing
  1. In a bowl, whisk egg white until frothy; set aside. Finely chop shrimp; cut scallops into 1/2-inch cubes. Add seafood to egg white. Add bread crumbs, chives, parsley, lemon rind, tarragon, salt & pepper; toss to combine. Refrigerate.
Salmon
  1. Butterfly (skinned) salmon fillet; sprinkle with salt & pepper. Spread stuffing over salmon leaving a border at edges. Starting at long side , roll salmon, tying with kitchen string at 1-inch intervals. Place on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roast about 50 minutes or when thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches 160 F. Transfer to cutting board; tent with foil & let rest for 10 minutes.
Dill Sauce
  1. In a small bowl, mix dill sauce ingredients together. Adjust consistency with milk & tartness with lemon juice. Set aside for 10-20 minutes You could use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It is slightly more tangy & low fat tends to be less creamy but does reduce the calories.
Recipe Notes
  • You can prepare the salmon roulade up to 2 hours ahead, just cover & refrigerate.

Dinner ‘En Croute’

Today, November 24, our neighbors to the south are celebrating Thanksgiving. Over the years, Brion and I have been in the USA numerous times on this occasion and enjoyed the food and holiday atmosphere very much. Today’s blog post acknowledges the American holiday with some special meal choices.

At the heart of a memorable dinner is the main entree, so why not make it just a bit more special by serving it  ‘En Croute’.  In the culinary arts, the term en croute (pronounced ‘on Kroot’) indicates a food that has been wrapped in a pastry dough and then baked in the oven. Traditionally the type of pastry used was a simple dough called pate pastry. Today, puff pastry  is frequently used for most en croute recipes.

The key to preparing items en croute is that however long it takes to cook the pastry until it is golden brown is how long the item will spend in the oven. Some of the best choices are beef tenderloin, salmon or a brie cheese, due to the fact they require less time to cook.

In the 1950’s and 60’s, Beef Wellington or as the French called it, ‘Boeuf en Croute’, became very popular. It was an elegant meal, using a beef tenderloin covered with liver pate and wrapped in pastry. My first introduction to this meal was a much more low key  version. It was simply achieved by making a nicely seasoned meatloaf, wrapping it a basic pastry and baking it. My mother would serve it with a tomato soup sauce. Definitely good but not quite the elegance of the true en croute entrees.

Two favorites of mine are variations of the classic ‘boeuf en croute’. One uses boneless turkey breast topped with a cranberry, hazelnut stuffing and baked in a tender puff pastry then served with a citrus-fig cranberry sauce. The other one is a seafood en croute using fresh salmon. The salmon is topped with shrimp or scallops in a seasoned egg/cream mixture and baked in puff pastry. A dill cream sauce is served to compliment this entree. Having a few alternatives to change out your traditional holiday meals always keeps it interesting.

 

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Turkey / Seafood 'en Croute'
Alternative ideas for those special occasions.
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Instructions
Turkey en Croute
  1. Saute garlic & onions in olive oil & butter 1-2 minutes. Add bread crumbs; toss until they begin to brown slightly. Add hazelnuts, thyme, cranberries, salt & pepper. Add only enough turkey stock to make stuffing hold together.
  2. Place the first pastry sheet on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place turkey breast along the center line of the pastry sheet. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Place stuffing on top of the turkey. Place the second pastry sheet over the turkey & stuffing. Trim the edges to form an oval shape. Save the trimmings in the fridge.
  3. Bring the edges of the dough together & seal by pinching them. Roll the dough from the bottom layer over the top layer & press down all the way around the perimeter of the pastry. This creates a tighter seal. Brush egg wash over the entire surface of the pastry. Decorate, cutting leaf shapes from trimmed pastry & score leaf veining into them with the tip of a sharp knife. Cut four 1/2" slots in the top of the pastry to let steam escape. Chill for 20 minutes or longer in the fridge before baking. This helps the pastry to puff.
  4. Bake at 400 F. for about 15-20 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 F. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that the center has reached at least 170 F. to be sure the turkey is completely cooked, about 35-45 minutes longer. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into servings.
Citrus - Fig Cranberry Sauce
  1. Simmer all ingredients together slowly for 30-40 minutes or until the cranberries are fully cooked & the mixture reduces & thickens to a jam-like consistency. Stir the sauce often as it simmers. Remove the star anise (if using). Store in a plastic container in refrigerator until serving time.
Seafood en Croute
  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut each sheet into four 6 x 5-inch rectangles. Place a salmon fillet in center of four rectangles.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the shrimp (or scallops), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another small bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into shrimp mixture. Spoon about 1/4 cup over each fillet.
  3. Top each with a pastry rectangle & crimp to seal. With a sharp knife, cut several slits in the top to let steam escape. Place on a 15 x 10 x 1-inch parchment lined baking sheet; brush with egg wash. Bake at 400 F. for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F.
Dill Cream Sauce
  1. Mix all ingredients & refrigerate until serving time.
Recipe Notes
  • The original recipe source for the Cranberry Hazelnut Turkey & Citrus Fig Cranberry Sauce can be found at rockrecipes.com
  • The cranberry sauce uses star anise or extract but feel free to omit it if you do not care for that flavor.
  • The Seafood en Croute recipe is one that is featured on tasteofhome.com  which has always been my favorite 'go-to' recipe company forever.