The past winter was particularly long, cold, and lonely at times for everyone. Me and my friends Alicia and Lucas dealt with it by cooking our way through each Wednesday night (see: here and here). It was always the highlight our our week to get together, get away from our studies and books, and just indulge. We conciously set time aside to think about what we would eat for dinner that night, a real luxury for the studious type. Our recipes got better and better each week. When Alicia started talking about her dream to one day make a cookbook, this project organically came out of us.The Summer of Wednesdays. A sequel to our wintery Wednesdays.
What can you expect? Mildly Eastern European rooted dishes, broken rolling pins in pictures, lots of mushrooms, perhaps some ice cream, delicious sauces, and - most importantly - growth. We are both pretty excited about this!
We are kicking things off with a tried and true recipe of Alicia's which was born on the night of my epic Birthday dinner. A decadent pastry with smoked salmon and a dilly béchamel sauce makes the perfect appetizer to a special meal.
Alicia has travelled all over allowing herself to become inspired by the flavous of the world. Her insane love for potatoes (seriously, she was a sack of potatoes for Halloween) is just one thing about her that proves she was raised in a Polish culture. She grew up in a family which, like mine, emphasizes homemade everything. Her dad taught her most of the stuff she knows in the kitchen and she is a master of all the cooking fundamentals. Her sister, who I have yet to meet, is a CSA- basket-community-garden type of girl. Alicia is the kind of girl who doesn't follow recipes, but creates them as she goes. At most, she will look at a recipe, love it, and create her own version of it. I love learning from her.Alicia lived in France for a semester in high school where her French mother taught her how to make perfect sauces, cook spontaniously, and make a seriously bad ass quiche. In addition to this, her recent travels to Spain, Portugal, and South America really shine in her recipes.She is as studious, obsessed with food, and Eastern European as I am. Alicia is wrapping up her masters in Biomechanics this summer. She is the kind of friend I can't wait to introduce to my parents.
I am, admittebly, smitten with raw "capture the action as it unfolds" creative style of Kelsey and Shaun. Happyolks was a main comforting space for my this past winter and so it feels natural for me to use that space as an anchor for creative inspiration as I attempt to emulate a similar storytelling style.
Smoked Salmon Chausson with Dilly Bechamel Sauce
Makes about 10, or one large pastry
Note from Alicia: I call it chausson because it was inspired by my french mother. (It just means pastry).
1 package of puff pastry (about 400 grams) or, homemade.
250 grams smoked salmon*
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 cups milk
1/4 cup water
4 tbls fresh dill
1 tbls flour of choice
1 tbls olive oil
pinch of salt
* Look for reduced sodium if possible. If not, be cautious of the amount of salt you add to your overall dish, as smoked salmon can be very salty depending on the brand.
1. For the sauce: Heat a medium sized skillet over high heat with olive oil. Toss in onions when hot. When the onions begin to become translucent, reduce heat to medium and add one clove of minced fresh garlic. Once the onions are totally translucent, turn heat up slightly to get the pan to a high temperate and add water. This will allow all the flavour that is sticking to the pan to loosen and add it to the sauce. Allow this to reduce. Add milk and stir. Once the milk begins to boil and begins to colour from the caramelized onions, you need to slowly whisk in flour, and one more clove of crushed garlic. Allow this mixture to thicken. Finally, remove from heat and add salt to taste, stir in dill. Allow to sauce to cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees celcius. Prepare a large baking sheet. Roll out the pastry dough (which should be straight out of the fridge, not room temperature), about 1/2 cm thick. Cut into desired size of squares (for minis) or leave as one large sheet (for one large pastry). Into each square, place a piece of salmon and a generous slab of the cooled down sauce. Here, the pastry might get too warm during folding making it difficult to work with. If this begins to happen, place the formed pastries into the freezer while you work on the rest. This way, they won't lose their shape.
3. In a small bowl, whisk one egg. Brush each pastry with the mixture. At this point, you can add sea salt flakes, seasame seeds, or fresh herbs atop, if desired.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.