Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Belgian Endive Salade en Aspic with Smoked Salmon Chevre Mousse and Dijon Vinaegrette

     Aspic salads are not seen very often in fine dining restaurants these days.  For the most part, fine dining cuisine has been cheapened with fusion asian ingredients for the last fifteen years.  Most of the customer base who are fans of two bit fusion fine dining have very little education about classic French cuisine or any other fine classic cuisine.  Because soy sauce tasted good on Chinese To-Go fried rice when they were a kid, fusion cuisine has become an easy bunch of flavors to nouveau riche crowd to like and it takes very little gourmet education to understand.  You might say that in a way, fusion cuisine was designed to take advantage of the nouveau riche from the 1990's to the present date.  
     Old school gourmands of fine dining detest the thought of having to listen to a coarse unrefined cad that made easy money during the real estate balloon market brag about how great tasting a combination of ponzu chicken and miso paste was at a restaurant that has the signature name of a great chef.  The old established money gourmands were raised on fine classic cuisine, so they have a solid gourmet education that is far beyond the class of the clientele of most fusion cuisine restaurants.
     Great chef signature restaurants are kind of a joke in themselves.  Most of these restaurants rely on fusion cuisine.  I have been badly disappointed at two great chef signature restaurants during the last two years.  Both of those great chefs get plenty of media exposure and they can do no wrong in the eyes of the public.  The fact is, great chefs only put their name on a restaurant and they almost never do any cooking at their corporate owned restaurants.  In fact, many great chefs design their signature restaurant menus, so that the food can be cooked by uneducated cheap kitchen help.  Great chef restaurants do tend to rely on fusion cuisine these days, because the targeted customer base tends to have no solid classic gourmet background.  Just because a great chef staples his name on a restaurant, does not guarantee a gourmet dining experience and it does not guarantee that the food will be good at all.
     Aspic salads are not exactly a thing of the past.  Fine French restaurants still offer aspic salads for lunch.  Yacht clubs and country clubs have a clientele base that expects aspic items to be offered on a menu.  Aspic salads are old school classic creations for the palates of old school gourmand customers!
     I made a simple yet nice looking aspic presentation in the photographs above.  A petite portion of smoked salmon mousse is a nice accompaniment for an aspic salad.  Considering the flavor of the aspic salad, nice quality virgin olive oil dijon vinaegrette was all that was needed for an accompanying sauce.  
     When making an aspic that has a three dimensional effect  of the ingredients floating in the aspic, the aspic has to be assembled in stages.  Multiple layers of salad ingredients and aspic are gelled one at a time, till the terrine mold is filled up.  This way the salad does not rest at the bottom of a thick slab of aspic.  When making the aspic, the chicken broth should be clarified, just like for making consomme, but only egg whites should be used to remove the impurities.
     Petite aspic salads are nice for making ahead of time.  Aspic salads are a pleasing surprise for guests!

     Chardonnay Chicken Aspic:  
     This recipe makes a little bit extra aspic!  The aspic can be used as a garnish for another recipe.     
     Heat 1 1/2 cups very light clear consomme quality chicken broth in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of chardonnay wine.  (White Burgundy from France is a nice choice!)
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Bring the ingredients to a gentle boil.
     Remove the pot from the heat and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.
     Rain 10 grams of powdered gelatin over the surface of the liquid.
     Bloom the gelatin.
     Heat the liquid over low heat and gently stir, till the gelatin dissolves.
     Remove the pot from the heat and use the aspic, before it starts to gel.
     Reheat the aspic over low heat if it gels between applying the layers of the salad later in the recipe.

     Belgian Endive Salade en Aspic:
     Keep in mind that the aspic will be inverted for the presentation, so arrange the salad ingredients accordingly!
     Prepare each of these salad ingredients:
     - a few fine julienne snow pea strips.
     - 1 tablespoon of small dice tomato concasse
     - thin slices of yellow sunburst tomatoes
     - 1 very thin sliced small shallot
     - 8 to 12 trimmed small Belgian endive leaves that are cut in half lengthwise
     - 5 to 7 cilantro leaves
     - 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely diced peeled seeded cucumber
     Arrange 1 sparse layer of the salad ingredients in a 8 to 12 ounce capacity fancy terrine mold.
     Pour a layer of the aspic over the salad ingredients.
     Chill the terrine in a refrigerator, till the aspic gels.
     Repeat these steps, till till the terrine becomes full.
     Keep the aspic salad terrine chilled. 
     Dijon Vinaegrette:
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of white wine vinegar in a mixing bowl.
     Add sea salt and white pepper
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard
     Add a very thin stream of 1 1/2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil, while whisking, till an emulsified vinaegrette is created.
      Set the vinaegrette aside.
     Smoked Salmon Chevre Mousse:
     This recipe make a 3 to 4 petite portions!
     Place 3 ounces of smoked salmon in a food processor.
     Add 2 ounces of French soft chevre goat cheese.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Finely puree the ingredients, by pulsing the food processor, till a smooth mousse is created.
     Place the mousse in a star tipped pastry bag and chill the mousse in a refrigerator.

     Belgian Endive Salade en Aspic with Smoked Salmon Chevre Mousse and Dijon Vinaegrette:
     Heat 1" of water in a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Place the chilled salad terrine mold in the hot water for about 10 seconds, so the aspic warms on the surface contact area of the terrine. 
     Invert the terrine mold onto a plate.
     Place a peeled cucumber slice on the plate.
     Place a few cilantro leaves on the cucumber slice.
     Use the pastry bag to pipe a small portion of the smoked salmon chevre mousse on the cilantro leaves.
     Place 4 very thin slices of yellow sunburst tomato on the plate around the mousse.
     Garnish with 5 pieces of tomato concasse.
     Spoon and drizzle a streak of the dijon vinaegrette around the salad.

     Viola!  A nice healthy aspic salad with a modern clean presentation.  This is a nice salad for lunch or as part of a formal dinner.  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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