29 March 2009

The Cook's Book

Jill Norman was Elizabeth David’s publisher, the British version of Judith Jones; great cookbook editors, both. In 2005, she edited The Cook's Book, gathering together renown chefs from around the world. She asked them to explain various techniques they used to prepare restaurant dishes and explain them to home cooks. Some of the preparations are rather basic, like how to broil a scallop, or how to make a compound or flavored butter and some are more technical, like Ferran Adria recipes on making foams.

The book is a behemoth volume that leans more toward the techniques than the recipes, but even if you know how to poach fish or bone duck, you can find yourself mesmerized in this book. It straddles the line between "I know that!" and "How cool!"

This is one of those, "I know that" recipes. It seemed so comforting when I read it. For some reason, the "heart" shape seems to always be the favored design for "en papillote" but small paper lunch bags work just fine.

Baked Salmon En Papillote

Olive oil for brushing
8 baby turnips, cut in half
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 thinly sliced fennel bulb
8 baby carrots, cut in half
4 tbsp snipped chives
4 pieces salmon filet, about 3 oz

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Cut out four large heart-shaped pieces of parchment paper. The halves of each heart should be about twice the size of a piece of salmon. Brush one half of each heart with the olive oil.

2. Divide the vegetable and chives into four portions. Place one portion in the center of the oiled half of one paper heart. Season a piece of salmon with salt and pepper, and set it on top. Add a few sprigs of thyme.

3.Fold over the other half of the heart. Crimp the open edges to seal them by making a series of small folds all around. Fill and seal the remaining packages in the same way. Place the packages on a baking sheet.

4. Bake until the paper packages are puffed up and lightly browned. 5-7 minutes. To serve, cut open the packages and transfer them to individual serving plates. Alternatively, put the sealed packages on the plate and let each person open his or her package.

I know the recipes have been a bit on the “fishy” side this week, but fish is good for you. So eat more of it. I promise, steaks next week. Honest.

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