This not Wednesday and this not Cailles á la Normande, which calls for quail, and there was no salad in the original recipe. I made this dish with cornish game hen as a substitute, but I just didn’t like how it tasted. Chicken and apples didn’t quite appeal to me (it could have been my mood or a host of other reasons) and I couldn’t capture an appetizing photo. Not to be defeated by Le Cordon Bleu at Home (a cookbook I am challenged by weekly with Whisk Wednesdays. I went at it again a few days later, using what was on hand; Salmon, gala apples, brandy, sourdough bread, and hydroponic lettuce. This seemed to work very well together.
I did make the rounded croutons as called for in the recipe and they served as more than a garnish, not only to prop the salmon on top of the greens, but as scoopers to eat with salmon and cream. The original recipe calls for Calvados brandy, but I simply infused the on-hand brandy with hot apples, and marinated the salmon with it. The brandy and the citrus dressing helped to saute apples and I used the brandy again when making the cream, which I got to flambe and that was fun.
The toasted almond slivers were my idea and not only added a nice texture, but another layer of flavor. Not to sound picky, not to sound like I might know more than the Le Cordon Bleu, but sometimes the dishes are a bit bland for my taste buds. However, I thoroughly enjoy the precision and use of ingredients, realizing this dish would have been made with fresh picked apples, french bread croutons, home-made veal stock, fresh quail, home-churned butter and home made créme frâiche. I can appreciate that I cannot recreate that.
But not living in the french countryside and having such access, I still needed some freshness, brightness, some zing to this dish, and decided to serve it over a salad of hydroponic lettuce made with a citrus champagne vinaigrette. It was delicious, felt healthy, and even with taking much license with the recipe, I can confidently say, it was greatly inspired by the original recipe and yet is in keeping with my personal spinach tiger food viewpoint.
I love salads, but, only made with homemade dressing and very good greens.
Once you see all that it takes to distribute a living product, you will agree that it deserves “just enough” of a great dressing. I am a salad lover, but very fussy about dressing. If I do eat at a salad bar, I head right for the bottle of olive oil and either use a drop of balsamic vinegar or a squeeze of lemon. I confidently tell you that if you eat bottled dressing, especially the creamy kind, or if you don’t like salad, I can change your mind and get you to make your own. I’ve done it many times. Not only will you save about 500 calories and be free of chemical additives, but it will taste so much better. I promise.
Start with smallest amount of olive oil. Wet the greens barely. Toss gently. Add acid, either lemon or a very good vinegar, salt, pepper. Finished. Seems simple, but it’s really an art to get it just right. You have to taste along the way. The biggest mistake made is TOO MUCH dressing. Glisten, never drench.
Having said that, I do make dressings and this dish called for it.
You might read the dressing recipe and think what’s the big deal. All I can say is you are right, but why do most salad dressings overwhelm and kill a salad?
Recipe for Salmon with Cream and Apples on Salad Greens with Citrus Dressing
Champagne Citrus Dressing
- 3 tablespoon champagne citrus vinegar
- 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard or mustard powder
- 8 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
- Whisk mustard and vinegars first. Slowly add in olive oil, whisking. Add salt and pepper.
- TASTE. You must taste and see if there is too much acid and continue to add oil a little at a time. Tasting is the best way to get the right dressing. So much more than following a recipe because you will use different types of vinegar, etc. I encourage you to collect vinegars and experiment.
If you are using hydroponic lettuce, you will need VERY LITTLE dressing. This lettuce wilts quickly and holds dressing very well. Use sparingly. Dress right before eating.
Recipe Guidelines (this is a general guideline for a very improvisational cooking hour)
Brandy: I did this on the fly, so I merely added warmed apple slices to brandy, heated the brandy and then used as a marinade.
Apples: Leaving skins on, used diced gala apples (I think tart green apples would also be good for the tartness). Saute in butter, add in pre-toasted almonds, salt, pepper, lemon.
Salmon: I used coho salmon, marinated in apple brandy. Cooked 4 minutes each side, or until just done.
Croutons: Brush with olive oil or butter (lightly) place in oven at 375. Stale bread works best. Used a large cookie cutter for rounded croutons. Pre-cut before baking.
- Cream Sauce: Melt 3 Tablespoons butter in small saute pan, add 3 Tablespoons brandy.
- Light with a lighter and flambé. Once fire subsides (which heats off the alcohol, add half and half or heavy cream. I used half and half and added in a spoonful of sour cream.
- Place lettuce with dressing and half of apples on plate.
- Add salt and pepper. TASTE.
- Add two large croutons per serving, topped with salmon.
- Top salmon with cream and top with remaining apples.