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This week's French Garden recipe

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People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.


12/06/2001
"Cake" of Jerusalem artichokes and smoked salmon with champagne dill cream (Gâteau de topinambours et saumon fumé à la crème de champagne et aneth)

Ingredients:

I've adapted this from a recipe of Thierry Perennou. It makes an elegant lunch or light supper dish.

For 4 servings:

For the cake:
1 lb. Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and thinly sliced
6 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon
1 1/2 T. unsalted butter
3 shallots, minced
1/4 c. heavy cream
3 eggs
1/2 t. minced fresh thyme
Salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne, and sugar

For the cream:
1 c. crème fraîche
1 T. vermouth, such as noilly-prat
3 T. champagne
2 t. minced fresh dill
Salt and pepper

Optional garnish:
4 small peeled cooked shrimp
4 dill or chervil sprigs


Preheat the oven to 350°.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the Jerusalem artichoke slices for 1 minute from the moment of contact with the water. Drain, refresh with cold water, and drain and pat dry. Toss them in a bowl with salt, pepper, a hint of nutmeg and pinch of cayenne.

Saute the shallots over low heat in 1 T. butter until softened. Butter a gratin dish with the remaining butter and spread the shallots in the bottom of the dish.
Cover with a layer of overlapping Jerusalem artichoke slices. Follow with a layer of salmon slices and top with a final layer of Jerusalem artichoke.

Beat the eggs and cream, season with the thyme, salt, pepper, and a tiny pinch of sugar. Pour over the gratin, making sure that the mixture penetrates to the bottom of the dish. Bake until set and golden, around 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the champagne cream. In a heavy, small saucepan, simmer the crème fraîche and the vermouth for 20 minutes over very low heat. Add the champagne and continue to simmer for 7 minutes, making sure that it doesn't scorch. Stir in the dill and cook 2 minutes more. Correct the seasoning.

To serve, either cut the cake into squares, or for a more elegant presentation, use a biscuit cutter to cut neat circles. Nap four hot plates with the cream and place the cakes on top. Garnish if desired with a shrimp and chervil sprig.

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