Salmon en Croute

Salmon en CrouteIngredients:

1 salmon fillet (about 1 ½ pounds), skin removed
½ cup sour cream
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
16 oz. fresh baby spinach or 10 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted and drained*
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
¾ cup dry bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
½ cup parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 (17.3 oz) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet on medium-high heat, sauté the spinach, onion, garlic and lemon juice until the onion has become translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add about half of the salt and pepper to the spinach mixture and stir well to combine. Set aside, and allow the mixture to cool. In a small bowl mix together the fresh dill, the lemon zest, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and remaining salt and pepper. Set this aside as well.

You are going to want to completely encapsulate the fish, so it is easiest working with two pieces of pastry dough, rather than one large one. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Lay one sheet out on a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish or cookie sheet. Spread about a tablespoon or so of the sour cream on the dough. Then lay the salmon on the dough. Next, spread the remaining sour cream on top of the salmon. Then sprinkle on the bread crumb mixture over the sour cream. Then gently spread out the spinach mixture on top. Finally, finish with a layer of the chopped up hard boiled eggs.

Pull the edges of the dough up around the sides of your salmon pile. Then top with your remaining piece of dough, using your beaten egg to help seal the two pieces together. Use the remaining beaten egg as a wash over the top of the pastry. Cut a few slits to allow steam to escape, and take the opportunity to decorate the top of the pastry with slits or designs to your liking. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a cucumber dill or tartar sauce.

* click here to see how to properly clean fresh dill and baby spinach.

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Chanukah Food Traditions

Chanuka FoodsOkay, so I’ve now covered why we eat fried food on Chanukah, and why we eat dairy foods, but why the particular dishes that we associate with Chanukah? Why Latkes? Why Sufganiot (jelly donuts)? There are plenty of foods that fit into the fried/dairy category, so why these ones?

Over time, different Jewish communities throughout the world have found a variety of ways to incorporate both oil and dairy into their Chanukah meals. One of the most famous, Israeli sufganiot, may actually derive from a yeast dough pastry mentioned in the Talmud (the written edition of the oral Torah). These pastries were cooked in oil and called sufganin (absorbent) because they absorbed a lot of oil in cooking. They did not contain milk, but were sweetened and perhaps even filled with honey and the fact that they were cooked in oil led to the pastries becoming a Chanukah staple early on.In Spain, Jews added cheese to these pastries—and from this twist on an old tradition evolved the many cheese doughnuts, fritters, and other fried cheese pastries popular among Sephardim. They may have influenced the cheese pastries popular in some Central European communities as well. A jelly-filled version evolved among German Jews, who brought it with them to the Land of Israel in the 1930’s.

In more Northern communities, where olive oil was scarce and expensive, goose or chicken fat often had to be used for frying. Potato latkes, apple fritters, and other non-dairy fried foods became the norm, although today when olive (or other pareve) oil is affordable and commonly used in preparing latkes, etc., dairy is often added—usually in the form of a dollop of sour cream on top of a latke.

So there you go, you now know the whys, so go and check out the recipes for the hows! Chag Samayach everyone!