Salmon Brandade

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This recipe comes from the 2018-published cookbook entitled Everyday Dorie, by Dorie Greenspan. I bought it recently after seeing quite a few bloggers share some of this book’s recipes on Instagram.

Personally, I’ve never gotten to “know” Ms. Greenspan. It’s probably because I first learned about her when the book, Baking with Julia, was published. Ms. Greenspan and Julia Childs were co-authors.

Well, I won’t bake with Julia, or anyone else, so I kind of ignored Dorie Greenspan and her award-wining books over the years, until now.

The book? Fairly straight forward, simple food. Her goal with the cookbook is to “turn out food that’s comforting, satisfying, inviting and so often surprising. I love when there’s something unexpected in a dish, especially when it’s in a dish we think we know well.

So, she added Dijon mustard to gougeres, to carrot and mustard rillettes, to honey-mustard salmon rillettes, and to a tomato tart with mustard and ricotta. And that’s just the appetizer chapter. I wasn’t really impressed with her “surprises,” but the photos of the food are really pretty.

I chose to make Ms. Greenspan’s salmon brandade, because I love traditional brandade, made with salt cod. If you’re interested HERE is a Jacques Pepin recipe for it.

According to Dorie Greenspan, “This brandade celebrates everything that’s warm and comforting about the original while adding a touch of luxe – it’s brandade for dinner parties. Serve with a salad and white wine. Maybe even Champagne.

The dish isn’t gorgeous, but it’s perfect comfort food, especially served during cold months. And for pescatarians.

It’s basically a salmon shepherd’s pie!

Salmon Brandade
Makes 6-8 servings

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 pound smoked salmon, or lox
2 – 2 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into medium chunks
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, plus 1/2 tablespoon butter
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped, rinsed, and patted dry
2 garlic cloves, germ removed, minced
6 – 8 ounces skinless salmon fillet, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth
2 – 3 tablespoons minced mixed fresh herbs, such as dill, chives, parsley, and/or tarragon
Plain dry bread crumbs, for finishing

Bring the milk just to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in half of the smoked salmon, turn off the heat and let steep while you make the potatoes.

Put the potatoes in a tall pot, cover generously with cold water, salt the water and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they’re so tender that you can easily crush them against the side of the pot with a fork, 15 – 20 minutes. Drain well.

The potatoes must be mashed, a job best done with a food mill or ricer, which produces fluffier potatoes. Mash them in a large bowl, and then, using a spatula, stir in the salmon-milk mixture, followed by the 6 pieces of butter.. The potatoes will be softer and looser than you might be used to. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9″ pie plate and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I used a small baking pan and two ramekins.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Toss in the onion and garlic and cook, stirring until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper – go light on the salt – and stir in the cubed fresh salmon.


Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine or vermouth and cook, stirring, until the wine almost evaporates, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs and remaining smoked salmon.

Taste for salt and pepper and scrape the mixture into the buttered pan.

Top with the mashed potatoes, spreading them all the way to the edges of the pan. Dot with bits of the cold butter and sprinkle over the bread crumbs.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are hot all the way through, the juices from the onion and salmon are bubbling, and the top is golden brown. If you want the brandade to have more color, put it under the broiler.

Serve immmediately – the brandade is meant to be so hot that you’ve got to blow on every forkful. See the steam in this photo? Nah, I can’t either, but it was steaming hot.

The two layers are exceptionally good, especially the soft potatoes with the bits of salmon.


But the bread crumbs (I used panko) really add a fun crunch to each bite.

I would consider this recipe excellent, but salt the potatoes!

And, the individual brandade in the ramekins turned out perfectly as well.

If you enjoy the combination of salmon and potatoes, I made a similar but much easier recipe called smoked salmon potato bake, pictured here. (I need to re-do these photos!)

Salt Cod for Lunch

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I’m calling this post “salt cod for lunch” because it is perfect as a lunch or a light meal. It’s salt cod cooked with potatoes, smothered in a white sauce, sprinkled with a little Parmesan, and then baked. It’s like the inside of a fish pie, with no crust. It’s hearty, but it’s not too rich, in my book. I hope you like it:

Salt Cod and Potato Gratin
to serve 4

fish:
1/2 stick butter
1 onion, sliced
3 small red or white potatoes, cut into 3/4″ cubes
12 ounces rehydrated salt cod, see about salt cod, cut into smaller pieces
1/4 cup half and half

white sauce:
1/2 stick butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cup half and half
Pinch of white pepper

Grated Parmesan

Heat the butter in a large skillet or work over medium-high heat. Add the onion and potatoes and sauté them for about ten minutes; they should be nice caramelized. Tuck the pieces of cod into the potatoes, and then pour the half and half over the top. It should bubble. Cover the skillet with a lid, then lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Let this paste cook for about a minute, whisking often, then pour in the half and half. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave the whisk in the pan.

To prepare the gratin, use an 8″ square baking dish, or four individual gratin dishes. Place the fish and potato mixture on the bottom of the dish. Then give the white sauce a whisk, and pour it over the potatoes and fish. (If using gratin dishes, simply divide the fish-potato mixture by fourths, and divide the white sauce into fourths.)

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Add some grated Parmesan, then bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is golden brown in spots.

Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, then serve with a green salad, if desired.

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Portuguese Salt Cod

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This recipe comes to me by way of the Foods of the World series, and it is in the American cooking: New England cookbook.

It is perfect timing for me. I began showcasing the regional cuisines of the U.S. in January, and I still have plenty of salt cod leftover from when I excitedly came upon it at Whole Foods a while back, see salt cod.

This recipe is one that I see typically when I come across a salt cod recipe, one that is either Portuguese, Italian, or Spanish. It’s a lighter Mediterranean dish of salt cod in tomatoes and onions, sometimes with capers as well.

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I will type up the exact recipe as it is in the New England recipe booklet:

Salt Cod Portuguese Style
To serve 4

1 pound salt cod
6 large firm ripe tomatoes, or substitute 4 cups chopped, drained canned plum tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions, plus 1 small onion, peeled nd cut crosswise into 1/8″-thick slices
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely cut fresh basil leaves, or substitute 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried basil
1 medium bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (cayenne)
1 teaspoon salt

Starting a day ahead, place the cod in a glass, enameled or stainless-steel pan or bowl. Cover it with cold water and soak for at least 12 hours, changing the water 3 or 4 times.

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Drain the cod, rinse under cold running water, place it in a saucepan and add enough fresh water to cover the fish by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. (Taste the water. If it seems excessively salty, drain, cover the cod with fresh water, and bring to a boil again.) Reduce the heat to low and simmer partially covered for about 20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily when prodded gently with a fork. Drain the cod thoroughly. Remove and discard any skin and bones and flake the fish into 1-inch pieces with a table fork.

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Meanwhile, drop the fresh tomatoes into a pan of boiling water and remove them after 15 seconds. Run cold water over them and peel them with a small, sharp knife. Cut out the stems, then slice the tomatoes in half crosswise, and squeeze the halves gently to removed the seeds and juice. Chop the tomatoes coarsely. (Canned tomatoes need only be thoroughly drained and chopped.)

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In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, warm the olive oil ver moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Add the chopped onions, celery, and garlic, and, stirring frequently, cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft but not brown. Stir in the tomatoes, onion slices, parsley, basil, bay leaf, red pepper, sugar, and salt and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer tightly covered for 30 minutes. Add the cod, mix well, and simmer until the fish is heated through. Taste for seasoning and serve at once from a heated bowl or deep platter. Portuguese salt cod is traditionally accompanied by small boiled potatoes.

029Verdict: I was very happy with this recipe exactly as it is. However, I later added some capers to top things off!

Salt Cod for Breakfast

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As you might remember from my post, salt cod, I’ve been on a mission to find this fish for years. I have spotted it on a few websites, but the shipping was always horrendous, so I never followed through with an online order.

My daughter who lives in London assured me that she could purchase salt cod at a Portuguese Market. So just before coming home for a summer visit a couple years ago, she did just that. I repeat the word, SUMMER. I picked her up at the airport in the city. Then we went out to lunch and did some shopping…. all the while forgetting about the salt cod in her suitcase. Well, that was a lesson learned. Do not ever leave salt cod in a hot car!

But now I finally have my hands on some salt cod after years of searching, thanks to Whole Foods. This recipe is an attempt to duplicate a dish my mother made years ago. I’m not sure about the specifics of it, but I think I remembered all of the major components. So here’s my version:

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Salt Cod and a Poached Egg with White Sauce and Capers
to serve 4

1/2 stick butter
1 onion, sliced
3 small red potatoes, cut into 3/4″ cubes
10 – 12 ounces pre-soaked salt cod, cut into pieces
1/4 cup half and half
4 poached eggs
White sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cups half and half, see white sauce on how to make it
Capers

Heat the butter in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion and potatoes, and sauté them for about 10 minutes. They should be nicely caramelized.

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Push the pieces of cod under the potatoes and onions, then pour the half and half over the top. Make sure the mixture is boiling, then cover the skillet and turn down the heat to the lowest position. Cook for 20 minutes without disturbing it.

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After cooking, the mixture will look like this:

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To make the white sauce, melt 1/2 stick butter in a pan over medium heat. When it has completely melted, add the flour and whisk them both together well. Then pour in the half and half, whisking all the while, and continue mixing until it thickens. If you like, season the sauce with black or white pepper, but don’t add salt. Remove from the stove but leave the whisk in the white sauce.

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To prepare the individual servings, divide the salt cod and potato mixture between four bowls and gently add the poached egg. Give the white sauce a whisk, add a generous amount, then top with some capers.

Salt Cod

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Salt cod has been very difficult for me to find, especially since I live in the landlocked middle of the United States. But I’ve been on a mission for find it because I have such great memories of the ways my mother used to cook with it. We lived in Seattle for three years when I was growing up, and I’m guessing because of the abundance of cod in Puget Sound, that salt cod was more prevalent there as well.

As a child I remember loving the little wooden box that it came in – the top slid in and out and it was just so cute. Unfortunately, I could never quite get rid of the nasty fishy smell, so the cute box never remained in my possession for long…

But those were really my only memories, except for the divine way my mother served the salt cod with a white sauce, topped with a few capers. I really wanted to attempt to duplicate this and a couple of other recipes. I’ve always loved fish, but I’ve been obsessed with playing in the kitchen with salt cod. There’s just something different about it!

For any of you not familiar with salt cod, it’s simply filets of cod that have been preserved in salt – a remnant preservation technique from the old days. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever find it, especially since we don’t have problems like lack of refrigeration these days. But then I came across salt cod at a Whole Foods store! It still exists! And it was in the little wooden boxes that I remember! I hurriedly grabbed a couple like it was a popular children’s toy at Christmas, and excitedly brought the salt cod home to start planning recipes.

When you first open up the box and unwrap the cod, you won’t be very impressed with it at all. The cod is salted and then dried, so it looks like dried up salty fish!

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What you have to do is soak it in cold water for at least two days, replenishing the water a couple of times a day. Otherwise, the cod will be too salty, and not in a good salty way.

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After the two days are up, it’s time for one final rinse, then dry on paper towels, and choose a recipe. Recipes are easy to find, especially if you look into Portuguese recipes, in which case it’s called bacalao, or Italian recipes, which is baccalà. But I’ll post a few salt cod recipes, as well! Watch for future posts!

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