Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote {FFwD}

When I first saw the July list for French Fridays with Dorie, I figured this week’s recipe was one I’d skip. I love salmon but no one else here eats it, so I never make it at home. However, my daughter asked if I could make pulled pork for her, and since I don’t eat pork, I figured this would be my chance to make salmon for myself.

I made the salmon for dinner the same evening that I made chunky beets and icy red onions, also from Around My French Table, and both were delicious.

As fancy as it sounds, this dish was really quite easy to put together. I began by searing grape tomatoes in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, just to bring out the flavor of the tomatoes a bit. To make the packet (“en papillote” means “in parchment” but like most recipes, this one uses foil to make the packets, I suppose because it’s easier to fold into a nice, tight seal), I began by laying freshly-picked basil from my garden on a sheet of foil, then sprinkling with salt and white pepper.

I set a piece of salmon on the basil, drizzled it with olive oil, then seasoned with salt and white pepper. I set the tomatoes to one side of the salmon, grated lemon zest over the fish and tomatoes, then scattered some of the leftover icy red onions from the chunky beet recipe over everything. I squirted a bit of fresh lemon juice on top, then finished it with lemon slices, basil, and a sprig of thyme.

After sealing the packet, I put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook the salmon for dinner. I cooked the packet for 10 minutes at 475°F. I served the salmon in the papillote, opening the packet at the table.

This was a wonderful dish. The salmon was cooked beautifully — moist, flaky, and tender — and the herbs and lemon gave it a bright, fresh flavor. This dish paired well with chunky beets and icy red onions and corn on the cob for a satisfying yet light Sunday supper.

If you’ve shied away from cooking fish at home, this is a great recipe to try. It’s quick and easy, without a lot of unusual ingredients. And sealing the ingredients in a foil packet ensures that the fish stays moist and absorbs the flavors of the herbs and spices.

Scallops in Caramel-orange Sauce {FFwD}

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe looks and sounds like just the sort of haute cuisine you’d expect in a French cookbook. But in fact it’s surprisingly simple and straightforward.

Like the semolina cake, this recipe starts with a simple caramel syrup. And like the cake, you have to be really careful not to burn the sugar when making the caramel sauce.

Two tablespoons of sugar isn’t a lot, and once it starts to liquefy, it can quickly go from melted to burnt. So I had my wine and orange standing by, and added them as soon as the sugar was melted and well-colored. I cooked the mixture down until it was a deep amber and had reduced by about half.

I set the caramel sauce aside while I made the scallops. This part of the recipe surprised me. I rarely cook seafood at home, and I always think that it is an involved process. In this case, the scallops couldn’t have been quicker or easier. After heating olive oil in a pan, I added the scallops, seasoned them with salt and white pepper, and cooked them for two minutes on each side.

I plated the scallops with the warm caramel sauce and some peas for a simple, yet elegant dinner.

This was another wonderful dish from Around My French Table. It wasn’t as sweet as I expected, and unlike Dorie, I found the scallops — rather than the caramel — to be the star. I probably wouldn’t have chosen this recipe on my own, but I’m glad I tried it. I’m not sure I’ll make it again, but if nothing else, it reminded me of how easy and delicious scallops can be.

Shrimp & Toasted Pumpkinseed Tart {ModBak}

If the idea of a green shrimp tart doesn’t immediately appeal to you, you’re not alone. My family refused to try this tart before I even made it, just based on the photo in the book. Nonetheless, I dutifully made the next recipe in the Modern Baker Challenge, knowing full well it would mostly be left uneaten.

This tart begins with a cornmeal pastry crust. The crust is essentially the same as the rich pastry dough used in many of the recipes in this section of the book, except that half of the AP flour is replaced with stone ground cornmeal. This results in a rich, savory crust with a hint of crunch, as well as a touch of yellow, from the cornmeal.

To make the pipian verde (Mexican green pumpkin seed sauce), I toasted the pumpkin seeds, then ground them in the food processor with aromatics, spices, and shrimp broth.

I cut the shrimp into bite sized pieces, then sautéed them in butter and cumin.

Don't they look like crawfish tails?

 After removing the shrimp from the pan, I returned the pipian verde to the pan, heated it through, then stirred in sour cream and the shrimp. I beat eggs in a bowl and stirred in the sauce and shrimp, then scraped it all into the shell

I baked the tart at 375°F for about 25 minutes, until the crust was baked and the tart set. I cooled the tart for a few moments, until I could remove the sides of the pan without burning myself.

Despite its appearance, this tart was quite flavorful. The serrano chiles gave it a gentle spice, and the pumpkin seeds lent an earthiness to the dish. The shrimp were well-cooked, and I found myself picking them out as I started to get full.

To my surprise, the kids ended up asking for (small) slices, and they both enjoyed it. Not enough to ask for seconds. But, hey, small steps are good, too.