Thursday, February 04, 2010

Pike Quenelles with White Wine-Mushroom Cream Sauce (Page 294)

RECIPE #1091

  • Date: Saturday, January 23, 2010 -- 7pm
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Kitchen: Our Temporary California Home!
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companion: Josh G
  • Recipe Rating: B

I made this recipe as part of my All Fish All The Time plan. I have to admit, I wasn't too excited about poached fish mousse dumplings (my experiences with fish mousse have never been too rewarding). The Book said that salmon could be substituted for pike in this recipe and that is what I did. I started by combining salmon, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a food processor and grinding it until it was smooth. Then I added an egg white and processed it some more. I forced the mixture through a sieve, then worked in some heavy cream. I refrigerated the salmon mousse for several hours. To make the sauce I cooked shallots in white wine, then added some fish stock (which I blogged about a few days ago). I boiled the mixture until it had reduced significantly, then my special gentleman poured it through a sieve and added cream, sliced mushroom caps, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. He then simmered it for several minutes and added arrowroot and Cognac. Once the sauce had thickened he stirred in chopped dill, salt, and white pepper. Meanwhile, I used two spoons to form the salmon mousse into oval quenelles. My quenelles we not-at-all cute, but I wasn't trying too hard to make them look perfect. With more effort I think they could have been cute. I poached the quenelles in simmering water until cooked through, then I transferred them to paper towels and let them sit for 10 minutes. Then I added the quenelles to the sauce, heated it, and served. This recipe was better than I expected. Fish mousse dumplings in cream sauce didn't sound too appealing, but it wasn't bad. The sauce had great depth of flavor. It was creamy and rich, and the fish stock gave it a lovely seafood undertone. I liked having the mushrooms in the sauce, but I would have preferred it if they had been sauteed first before adding them -- as it was their texture was a bit odd in the sauce. If they had lost a bit of their liquid before adding them it would have been better. The mousse dumplings themselves were quite interesting. The texture was incredible -- perfectly smooth. I'm not sure I loved the fish flavor with the incredibly smooth texture, but even if it didn't appeal to me I still found it remarkable. The texture of the dumplings seemed appropriate with the richness of the sauce. The whole dish felt very refined. I likely wouldn't go to the effort to make this dish again, but I was happy to eat it once. My special gentleman and Josh enjoyed it quite a bit.

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After spending some time in Indiana, I am now back in California! I flew back on Tuesday and had an uneventful trip (the best kind!). I didn't do much cooking from The Book when I was in Indiana. I spent most of my time there either working or hanging out with Mike, Teresa, and baby Irene. I did a bit of cooking because I made a couple dinners for Mike and Teresa (it's hard to find time to cook for yourself when you have a newborn!), but I opted to make them food that I knew would be good rather than experimental food from The Book. That's how much I like them! So yesterday night I wanted to do some cooking from The Book. I spent the evening down in Palo Alto with some of my nearest and dearest: Emilee, Brian, Sam, Chris, and my special gentleman. I constructed a menu that took maximal advantage of my presence in California: two recipes with seafood and one with quail eggs (which I have had a hard time finding in the Midwest). I won't say that the meal was a huge success [Quote from Emilee: "What's the lowest grade I can give something if I didn't spit it out?" And Sam, who turns 2 in March, actually did spit a few things out!], but it was quite fun! I started this project in Palo Alto more than four years ago now, and Emilee, Brian, and Chris were the first people who ate from The Book with me! Now, years later, they are the ones who will be helping me get through some of the questionable recipes I have left. Lucky them! We are having dinner at their place again on Tuesday. I am already plotting what to make!

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