In the most 2020 way for events to unfold, our holidays are happening in the middle of a surge of COVID-19 infections (because, of course they are, it’s the year 2020). So, for many of us that means a much smaller gathering than usual. Or the larger gathering will be happening via some screen-based video chat app. For our family, we are just staying put at home and we will see our extended family through the computer screen. On a very practical point, this means cooking a large bird in the oven for 3 people will be overkill. So, no bird this T-day. To offer an alternate choice, I asked the family what they wanted to do for our Thanksgiving meal and it was unanimous, they wanted me to make a salmon torte. If your family likes salmon, I’d highly recommend this torte for your holiday meal. It’s festive, it’s customizable (for food sensitivities), it presents well on the table, and most importantly, it is delicious. My recipe comes from my aunt, based in France, so the measurements for the recipe are in the metric system.
Salmon Torte | Tourte au Saumon
2 puff pastry sheets or 2 gluten free pie crusts (since my daughter is sensitive to wheat, I make my own GF crust using America’s Test Kitchen’s pie crust recipe, it’s a really good one)
1 large salmon fresh fillet (about 500g)
1 smoked salmon filet (170g)
1 egg yolk (for brushing over the top crust)
1 large shallot
2 rounded tablespoons of minced fresh parsley
25 centi-liters of creme fraiche or sour cream
salt & pepper to taste, but go light on the salt as the smoked salmon already adds a good bit of salt to the mix
100g of frozen spinach
2 tablespoons of bread crumbs (regular or gluten free)
- Parboil the spinach for 3-4 minutes until soft, drain out the water. Wring out the spinach in some paper towels to get out the excess liquid.
- Poach the fresh salmon until just cooked through. Let cool and remove the bones from the filet.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Roll out one crust (bottom crust) and lay it into the torte pan/ pie pan/ or any sort of festively shaped baking mold you feel like using.
- Mash up the salmon filet with the smoked filet. Add the creme fraiche, parsley, spinach, 3 eggs, shallot, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs. Mix until well combined.
- Fill the bottom torte shell with the salmon mixture.
- Roll out the top crust and lay over the filled torte. pinch the edges together and you can even “seal” the edges by brushing a little milk along the edge where the top and bottom crusts meet with a silicon pastry brush.
- Beat the remaining egg yolk. With the silicon pastry brush, brush the egg yolk on the top pastry crust.
- Make a hole in the middle of the top pie crust and roll a small piece of aluminum foil into a tube. Insert the foil tube into the hole you’ve made in the top crust to make a little “chimney” for heat/ steam to escape while baking.
- Place the torte into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes depending upon the oven. The crust should be a golden brown.
- Enjoy!! Happy Thanksgiving!
You can serve this torte with a quick little sauce made from sour cream, chopped tarragon, salt, pepper, lemon juice and lemon zest. Or serve plain with wedges of lemon to squeeze on to the slices of torte once plated.
I’m Dreaming Of A Fried Christmas
Hello readers, it’s Maki. Anouck asked me to write the Christmas portion of this post, and all I could think was– I’m dreaming of a fried Christmas. Yes. The new KFC is Kentucky Fried Christmas. Actually, forget KFC. We’ll get our fried chicken from Ezell’s, a Black-owned local chain in Seattle. Anyways, KFC or Ezell’s, fried chicken dinner we will enjoy because that’s how Christmas is done in my home country of Japan.
It’s true, the Japanese celebrate Christmas with fried chicken and cake. Strange things happen when a country with only 1% Christian population appropriates a Christian holiday. It’s a commercial holiday (which isn’t so far from how we celebrate Christmas in the U.S.), and in Japan, it isn’t even a day off. Think nice dinner date for couples, KFC and cake at home for families, gifts from Santa for the kids. Christmas in Japan is like an appetizer to the main course that takes place one week later: New Year’s Day.
I usually spend Christmas with my husband’s family in Southern California. Not this year, for obvious reasons. In fact, COVID-19 has shut me out of Japan too. Japan is closed to U.S. citizens seeking tourism and short stays. The irony is that I became a U.S. citizen in 2017 so I wouldn’t risk getting separated from my American husband and our biracial kiddo for any unforeseen reason. Now I can’t visit Japan because it doesn’t recognize dual citizenship. Of all the restrictions brought on by COVID-19, that has been the toughest pill to swallow.
Still, I have a lot to be thankful for. Everyone in our family is in good health, both in the U.S. and in Japan. Moreover, my parents live in the same household as my brother’s family. They are never lonely or bored with my nephew and niece running around. I’m also grateful for the welcome news of effective vaccines on the horizon. It may be a long winter, but now there is hope in the near future. COVID-19 will be over soon. Not soon enough for this holiday season, but its end is within sight.
We’ve been through so much this year. Why not kick back and enjoy a casual, low-stress Christmas? Fried chicken and cake fit the bill. If cooking a feast is your style, by all means, indulge. Let’s replenish ourselves for the new year.
Learn how to make Japanese strawberry shortcake!