Pan-Fried Salmon With Creamy Tomato Sauce And Steamed Asparagus With Herb Butter Sauce

Watching French cooking these couple days has inspired me to create this new main entree, pan-fried salmon with creamy tomato sauce and steamed asparagus with herb butter sauce as the side dish.

France’s native cuisine is full of recipes that use only a few ingredients, but the fantastic herb, vegetable, fruit, fish, and meat selections take center stage over everything else. They use fresh ingredients. The cornerstone of French cooking is not necessarily the mastery of elaborate recipes, but the choice of high quality food that shines through the preparation.

Different layers and textures between the mango salsa topping, fish, and tomato sauce really compliment each other. It is definitely one of the best dishes that I have ever cooked.

Bon appetit!

Pains au Chocolat

I’m up early to bake these flaky and buttery croissants. Half of them are filled with chocolate and the rest with ham and cheese. They definitely do not taste like the store-bought croissant. Neither does it taste like the puff pastry from frozen aisle. I have been baking pastries on and off for 15 years and compared to breads and cakes, pastries are the most difficult and laborious. It needs a meticulous baking skill and a lot of patience but a bite of these perfect layers of pastry really makes worth baking. Bon appetit!

For the dough:

500 g strong bread flour
15 g salt
75 g sugar
25 g yeast
270 ml water
400 g butter

For the filling:

Ghiradelli semi-sweet baking chocolate
Deli ham, shredded mozarella, and cream cheese
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

1. First make the dough. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and water in a mixing bowl to form a dough. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

2. Flatten out the butter into a rough rectangle about 1-2cm thick and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. Roll out the chilled dough into a rectangle roughly the size of an A3 piece of paper.

4. Place the butter on top of the dough, making sure it only covers two-thirds of the dough.

5. Fold the third of the dough that’s not covered by the butter over the butter-covered dough.

6. You will be left with a third of the butter-covered dough exposed. Fold that back onto the dough, layering the dough and the butter.

7. Roll the butter and dough layers with a rolling pin to press them down, Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

8. Take the dough butter mix out of the fridge and roll out into a rectangular shape, 15mm thick.

9. Repeat the folding process, cover with cling-film and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

10. Repeat the folding and chilling process two more times. Once this is complete, wrap in cling film and chill in the refrigerator overnight.Roll out the chilled dough out until it is 8mm thick.

11. Cut into the dough into 12 x 12cm squares.

12. To make each pain au chocolat, place the chocolate on the base of a dough square and fold the pastry over the chocolate, forming a sausage shape. For the ham and cheese, fill the dough with ham, mozarelle and cream cheese, fold the pastry forming an envelope shape. Use the fork to decorate the edge for nicer look.

13. Flatten each sausage shape by hand and brush with the egg wash.

14. Place the pain au chocolat on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Set aside to rest for 1 hour.

15. Preheat the oven to 390F.

16. Bake the pastries for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden.

Stu, my husband, likes to eat his plain pastry with sausage and gravy.

St Patrick’s Irish Coffee Blondies

I love coffee and chocolate. Combine them together and you get blondies to die for.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups tightly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ground coffee
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds, skins on
1 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper long enough so the parchment overhangs the lengthwise sides (you’ll be using the parchment to pull your blondies out of their pan). Butter the bottom and sides of the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and coffee grounds, breaking up any brown sugar lumps with a fork (at least that’s seems to work best for me.) Add the butter and vanilla and mix well. Whisk in the eggs until completely incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir until ingredients are just incorporated.

Turn into the lined pan and spread into the corners, doing your best to level the batter. Sprinkle the sliced almonds and chocolate chips over the top of the batter.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, checking after the 20-minute mark. You should have quite the luscious, chewy blondie, which is how I prefer mine. If you prefer a more “done” brownie, leave it in for closer to 25-27 minutes.

Once out of the oven, let cool for 10 minutes or so in the pan and then remove the pan(using a sturdy grip and the parchment lining) and cool completely on a rack.

Use the parchment paper to lift the Blondies to a large flat cutting surface. Use a long sharp knife to cut 2-inch squares.