Once again it's time to salute an herb. The lucky bit of green this week is dill. The seeds, which are actually the fruit, are a must in dill pickles. The leaves or fronds, are, for some obscure reason, known as dillweed or dill weed.
It's medicinal use was to help induce sleep and it's practical uses were as a ward against witches and (very important bit coming up) to fend off the 'evil eye'. I, personally, am going to start wearing a garland of dill whenever I work on my computer (see previous posts).
One of the first culinary masterpieces every young cook (at least in the Midwestern U.S.) learns is the much-loved 'Dillweed Dip'. To be honest, I haven't expanded much on its uses until recently.
I can't buy dill pickles here in France and I dearly love them. The only solution is to make my own. I also can't buy dill seeds in any form so I have to grow my own. My dilemma is that, regardless of how carefully I schedule my plantings, the little cornichon (pickling cukes) are ready long before the dill is. The best I can do is harvest the seeds and save them for the following year. But, as long as I have all of those lovely leaves I decided to start using more dill (even when I have to buy it, which I did for this). It imparts a delicate flavor reminiscent of anise or tarragon, and goes particularly well with fish and cream sauces.
This is an exceptionally easy recipe, assuming one buys the puff pastry; it looks very elegant and tastes wonderful. What more could one ask for?
Salmon en Croute with Tarragon Cream Sauce
Time: 35 minutes
2 pieces of salmon, skinned – about 3" wide by 4" long by 1" thick (5cm X 10cm x 2.5 cm) 6 – 8 oz each they can be trimmed a bit or cut to fit if needed
1 large or 2 small sheets of puff pastry You will find it in either the refrigerator or freezer section.
fresh dill (dillweed), just the fine fronds, no thick stems
you can substitute dried dillweed – sprinkle about a 3/4 tsp on each sheet
4 tsp whole grain mustard
Lightly roll the puff pastry dough if needed to get the size you want. It needs to be just large enough to cover the salmon with an overlap of 1/2 – 1 inch (1.25 – 2.5cm). Lightly cover an area roughly the size of the salmon with dill fronds. Skin salmon if needed, and cut/trim. Place salmon on top of dill. Spread 2 tsp mustard evenly on each piece. Depending on the shape of your fish you can bring opposite corners together (if it's square-ish) or fold over (if it's long-ish). Press the meeting edges of the puff pastry together to seal. It's okay if there are gaps in the 'package' as long as the pastry is sealed together enough to hold it's shape as it bakes. Repeat with the other piece of salmon. Bake at 400F (200C) for 15 – 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove and serve with Tarragon Cream Sauce.
Tarragon Cream Sauce
This makes enough for 2 uses – Later that week I used it in the Chicken Divan….or it could have gone into the Swedish Meatballs…
Finely chop shallots. In small saucepan over medium heat sauté shallots in butter until tender. Add tarragon, wine and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Mix cornstarch in stock and stir into simmering stock. Cook until thickened – should be quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in crème fraiche. Cover and keep warm until serving. Refrigerate half (or more) of the sauce for another use.
Our host this week for Weekend Herb Blogging is Ed at Tomato. Be sure to read his blog on Monday for all of the great recipes. For all of the Weekend Herb Blogging info check with the founder, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.