"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

February 18, 2011

Salmon en croûte

We've had a funny Valentine's week––Momma's been viral, with off and on energy levels, so we've had our Valentine's meal in fits and starts. The big "gala" will be tomorrow after I finish tidying up (code word for putting away some stuff that's been sitting there since Christmas in all of our moving about on the ridge) in the dining room. Our boys have a long weekend ahead, too, for President's Day, so it will be a fun time to potter about, see some friends and do some cooking.

The other night, as the salmon was thawed (we got two great big planks of Irish salmon at Christmas and they froze beautifully), I made the following dish. I looked at several different recipes, some that friends had suggested on Facebook, and decided that I would just sort of make my own as I went along. I also thought it needed a sauce to go with it so I combined some of my favorite ingredients, et voila! It really is rather like a "Salmon Wellington" if you've ever had beef Wellington (something else I'd like to make). Either way, it is easier to make than it looks and you could make it the same day of a dinner party, put it in the fridge, and bake later.

The only thing I would change to this recipe was the portion size as I used four big servings of salmon––my husband couldn't even finish his!––and also underestimated how the puff pastry would expand. However, size aside (and they certainly made a good one-dish meal), these were rich and delicious––a nice, easy treat and you can even make them ahead (or change it up with chicken, shrimp or just make an all-vegetarian version which I did for our youngest, who isn't a salmon fan). You can also make smaller puff pastry squares, too, to serve more people: just cut smaller squares and use less of everything.

Salmon en Croûte a la Farmwife 
Serves 4-8 (depending on size)

• 4-8 portions of salmon (fist-sized and not too thick)
• 2 sheets puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm®––in the freezer section)
• 1 package frozen spinach
• 1 cup mushrooms, finely minced
• 1 large shallot, finely minced
• 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
• 3 Tablespoons butter
• 3 Tablespoons cream or half-and-half
• sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• bit of nutmeg, if desired
• 4 slices Gruyere, Jarlsberg, or Swiss cheese (I used Alpine Lace low-fat Swiss because the Gruyere at Walmart was over $13 for a small amount!)
• 1 egg with a bit of water or milk, for wash (beat together)

Set oven to 400 degrees. Sauté shallot and garlic in the butter. Add minced mushrooms and continue to cook. When mushrooms appear cooked, add spinach (drained or still frozen). Stir until thawed and add cream, sea salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside. [You can also prepare this mixture up to a day ahead.]

Roll out, with a bit of flour, the thawed puff pastry into two 14x14 sheets. Cut each sheet into four equal squares (for a total of 8) and place four on cookie sheet that has been covered in parchment paper. Brush egg wash on the edges on all four sides of each square.

Place one slice of cheese on each square. Top each with an even layer of spinach mixture, equally divided and not extending beyond the cheese, and then a piece of uncooked salmon atop the spinach mixture.

Place last four squares of puff pastry atop each packet, fold up the sides (flute if desired), and brush each packet all over with the egg wash.

Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. While waiting, prepare sauce, below, and serve hot. These would also be excellent with a light side salad of spring greens or cooked asparagus spears.

Frondy dill from one of my favorite magazines, Bon Appétit
Mustard-Dill Cream Sauce

• 1 cup, or more, of cream or half and half (you can also cut in some water)
• A bit of flour and butter
• 1 heaping Tablespoon of grainy Dijon mustard
• 1 heaping Tablespoon of fresh chopped dill (or less if dried)
• Salt and pepper, to taste

In the pan where you prepared your spinach-mushroom mixture––so you can pick up the bits of garlic, spinach, mushroom and shallot still sticking to it––melt butter and whisk in flour (no more than 1/4 cup). Add cream slowly and stir until thickened––cut with a bit of water, or chicken broth, if desired. Add mustard, salt and pepper, dill and more cream (or water/broth) if desired for a thinner sauce. Serve on the side of the salmon packets or pour a bit on each plate, then plate the salmon and drizzle with sauce on top. Add fresh dill sprigs!

You come back when you're ready!



  1. My dear, if I didn't live in Colorado I would definitely ask for an invitation to your home the next time you prepare this lovely dish. You are an enlightened cook or should I say chef? May I bring the wine?

  2. Hi Catherine! In my internet meanderings, I just found your blog! Just wanted to say I love it. Thanks~ Vicki

  3. Welcome, Vicki! And Michael, by all means. Bring some wine!

    And I'm not a chef but I play one on TV, how's that?

  4. Mouth watering... Destiny



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