For some reason unknown to myself I have had a need to make a salmon and asparagus tart for some time now. I am not sure where this started but all I know is that this desire had been growing inside me for some time. There was one thing that was stopping me however and that was Quiche. I did not want to make a Quiche I wanted it to be a tart but I was not sure how to set the tart without it being Quiche based. I’ve nothing particular against Quiche it just does not excite me; the word just conjures an image in my mind that is not particularly inspiring.
This dilemma has been bothering me for a few months now but one day a solution came to me. I ask you what goes well with both salmon and asparagus? yes that is right hollandaise sauce. Obviously I could not set the entire tart with a hollandaise as that would be quite overpowering, especially how I like my hollandaise. Therefore to counteract the vinegary tartness of my hollandaise sauce the idea struck me to mix it with creme fraiche. A brilliant idea I thought and not one that I had come across before. Unfortunately it turns out that this sauce already exists and is known as sauce creme fleurette and so I was unable to name it myself. For mine I also added in some chopped dill as this goes fantastically with both hollandaise and salmon. So there we have it; a few months of planning finally resolved now to make it.
Tarting it up a bit
Pastry is not a strong area for me; I don’t make it very often and this means I do not have a good frame of reference in my mind. I wanted the pastry base to be a short crust and so after a brief consultation of the Supercook’s I had a plan in my mind. This post is not going to have any measurements in it as I did not do any. So the pastry was a basic short crust made using plain flour rubbed with salted butter until breadcrumb like. I then added a few teaspoons of cold water and combined with a knife until it could be handled and kneaded. Once I had a nice smooth dough I wrapped in cling film and left in the fridge for about an hour.
For the salmon I simply seasoned the fish and placed in the oven with some oil for about 15 minutes until cooked. I then removed from the oven and left to cool. The asparagus was trimmed and pan fried in butter with some sea salt and again left to cool. If you want to be really pro you could plunge into iced water although that would wash off the lovely salty buttery coating on the asparagus so I would rather not. So with the salmon cooked, the asparagus cooked and the sauce made I was pretty much ready to roll, quite literally.
I preheated the oven to 180C and rolled out my pastry. This turned out to be more of a challenge than I planned as I had forgotten that I threw away my rolling pin when I moved house (That was in October, told you I do not make pastry often). Therefore using a straight sided glass tumbler I rolled out my dough to the correct size. I did this using a great technique I saw Raymond Blanc using on the TV which involves placing the dough between two sheets of cling film before rolling. No more sticking to the surface, no more flour everywhere, no more sticking to the rolling pin (glass) and no more additional flour mixing into the dough. Once rolled to the desired thickness I placed into my tart dish and blind baked in to oven for about 15 minutes removing the greaseproof paper for the last 5 minutes. Once slightly cooled I added my flaked salmon, just tear with your hands, seasoned, and poured over the sauce until it reached the top of the pastry. The sauce should be fairly thick, sort of like double cream. Make sure you taste it and season it adding more creme fraiche if desired. Once the sauce is added arrange your asparagus in a pleasing pattern; I went for criss-cross squares. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the top has started to brown off a bit and it looks cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit and serve with either a salad or boiled new potatoes or both. Alternatively serve with whatever you want.
I was really pleased with how this came out for a number of reasons. First off I had been waiting to make it for a really long time and finally I could eat it and stop thinking about it. Secondly I had come up with the method all by myself and not followed a recipe which was a rarity for something made with pastry. Finally it was not a complete disaster and tasted really great. This was certainly a lovely dinner and very different to my usual food. The sauce was a revelation for me and this would be a fantastic sauce to serve with fish and pasta generally and I intend to do so. It had the tartness of hollandaise but was not so in your face and a little more delicate. The dill compliments the tartness so well and gives a real earthy grassy taste to it in my opinion. I will admit that I ate mine straight from the oven and the sauce was still very runny from the heat so it was a bit of a mess on the plate. When I had it the following day however it had set nicely and cut properly. Therefore you have two choices. If you want it hot I would recommend making individual tarts so that they look nice on the plate. If you’re not bothered or want it cool/cold then a large one should be fine.
I think I will make another foray into the pastry world soon, I’ve been wanting to make a tarte tatin for some time now so that could be on the cards.If anyone has any requests or suggestions then please feel free to comment and let me know and I will he happy to give things a try.
Thanks for reading and I hope you have enjoyed it.