Sunday, July 31, 2011

Phyllo Tart with Salmon--It's All About Dill

I love all the herbs, but I have a particular sentiment for dill. When I was a child one of my favorite summer snacks was a sandwich made from rye bread, spread with butter and generously topped with chopped dill and coarse salt on it.

Dill is so popular in Poland that, next to marjoram, I would call it our national herb. Any Polish who owns even a tiny garden may not have much there but I bet will grow some dill. Many traditional Polish recipes call for dill. Our beet dishes need dill. It is added to cabbage salads, soups and sauces. And it is a must have ingredient in pickled and salted cucumbers. If you have ever eaten in Poland, especially in the summer, and you happen to be not a great fan of dill, you surely found yourself in trouble.

Because of our national love for dill, whenever I find a recipe calling for it, I always cannot wait to try it.

Today's tart was inspired by a recipe from a very old British magazine, which turned out to be worth trying. Of course, I added twice as much dill as the recipe indicated. I also bought a piece of wild salmon fillet for this dish, which made enormous difference in taste. Importantly, there was no fishy aroma whatsoever during its preparation. This tart has been recently one of my favorite dishes, and with all the dill in it, it brought back the memories of Polish summers.

Phyllo Salmon Tart
(Serves 6 as a starter and 4 as a main dish)

9 sheets phyllo pastry,
2 tbsp butter, plus extra 2 tbsp melted,
1/2 lb wild salmon fillet,
3 eggs,
1 and 1/2 cup milk,
1/4 cup all purpose flour,
1 bay leaf,
2 tbsp chopped dill (or three if you really love it),
2 tbsp chopped chives,
1/2 cup Gruyère or Cheddar cheese, grated.

1. Pour milk in a medium pot with bay leaf and one tsp of salt and bring it to boil. Add salmon fillet and let it simmer for about 8 minutes. Drain the salmon, discard the bay leaf, and reserve the milk.
2. In a medium pot, melt 2 tbsp butter, add flour, and mix it over a medium heat. Add slowly milk reserved from cooking salmon, whisking constantly. Let the sauce boil for a moment and take off the heat. Beat in egg yolks, herbs, pepper, and cheese.
3. Whisk whites until stiff. Fold them into the sauce. At the end, add salmon crumbled into small pieces.

Now that your filling is ready, put it aside while preparing the bottom of the tart.

4. Preheat oven to 400F.
5. Spread a bottom of a 10-inch form with butter. Put first three sheets of Phyllo pastry so it hangs over the walls of the pan. Spread it gently with butter. Put another three sheets the same way on top, and repeat until all are used. Brush the last layer with butter and pour over the salmon filling. Cover edges with overhanging phyllo sheets.

6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the pastry and the top of the tart are gold.

Serve with green salads.

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