Spring & Summer, Here I Come ~ Salmon, Leek & Asparagus Herb Pie
There are those pies that are a rich, eggy custard with bits of goodness hidden in their one inch depths. And then there is this.
A pie that is all filling and just like a brick mason applies a modest amount of cement to hold the bricks together, this pie is just barely cemented together with a custardy base.
At its heart, softened leeks combine with asparagus and salmon slivers seasoned with fresh herbs like dill and chives. Refreshing? Oh yes!
And then the eggy custard perfectly cements these lovely morsels together in a Dijon-mustard and goat cheese rich base.
All this nestled in a perfect buttery flaky pie shell.
What brunch would be complete without this?
Now combine this with a lovely salad, washed down with mimosas in the company of good friends and what was excellent to begin with just turned extraordinary.
Salmon, Leek & Asparagus Herb Pie 1 qty, 9" pie - serves 4-6 Preparation time: 15 minutes Chilling time: 10 minutes Cooking & Baking times: 50 minutes Shopping list Pie crust:1-1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1 stick (4 oz) cold unsalted butter 1 large egg 1/2 tsp salt 1-1/2 tbsp. chilled water Filling - 1 lb. fresh Atlantic Salmon
1 lb. fresh Asparagus 2 large leeks 1 clove garlic, peeled & chopped 1 tbsp. olive oil 1 tbsp. butter 1/4 cup dill leaves 1/4 cup chives 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp ground black pepper Custard base: 2 oz. goat cheese 3/4 cup half & half 1/2 cup milk 3 large eggs 1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (stone-ground) 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp ground black pepper Garnish: reserved whole asparagus stalks, 1 tsp olive oil to sauté Also: 9" non-stick spring foam or quiche pan
Preparation - Preheat the oven at 350 deg F.
Leeks: Cut away the woody ends and the green leafs. Halve lengthwise and cut into 1/4" thick semi-circles. Use only the white and light green portions of the leeks.
Garlic: Finely chop and set aside
Asparagus: Snap the bottom ends of the asparagus where the tough portions naturally break away from the succulent stalks. Set aside 1 spear per person (about 4-6 spears) for final garnish. Cut the remaining asparagus into 1/4" circles reserving 2" of the tops whole. Set aside.
Salmon: Halve the salmon along its natural center seam and then cut against the grain into 1/4" thick slices. Set aside.
Herbs: Separate the leaves from the stalks in case of the dill and finely chop. Snip the chives using sharp kitchen shears and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saute pan, on medium, heat the olive oil and butter for about 30 seconds till the butter melts. Add the garlic and as soon as it simmers, add the leeks. Saute the leeks for about 5 minutes till they sweat and soften but do not brown.
Add the asparagus including the tops (not the whole reserved stalks). Saute for about 7-9 minutes till the asparagus is bite tender but not overcooked and discolored.
Add the salmon. Gently stir for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat as soon as the salmon goes from translucent to opaque.
Set aside filling to cool.
For the pie crust:
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add the all-purpose flour, cold butter chunks, vegetable shortening, egg & egg yolk, sugar & salt. Pulse for about 20 seconds to combine to a texture of soft breadcrumbs.
Add 1-1/2 tbs chilled water and pulse for about 25 seconds until a ball has formed. Remove fro the food processor.
Flatten the dough ball into a smooth disk and wrap in plastic cling wrap. Freeze for about 10-15 minutes.
For the custard base:
In a mixing bowl, crack the eggs discarding the shells. Whisk. Add the half & half, milk, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Crumble the goat cheese into the custard base. Stir and set aside.
Once the dough disk is chilled, remove from the freezer. Discard the cling wrap and sprinkle a clean work surface liberally with ¼ cup flour. Liberally flour a clean working surface with about 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. Roll out the dough evenly, giving a quarter turn as you go, to a diameter 2-1/2" larger than the base of the spring form pan.
Separate the pan base from its sides and carefully insert the pan base below the pie crust and center as best as you can. Fold the excess crust into the base and attach the pan sides. Carefully lift and press the pie crust along the walls of the pan. Gently press down to leave no air between the bottom and sides of the pan and the crust.
Cut a toothpick at about the 2" mark. Use it as a guide and insert several toothpicks all along the pie crust (as shown in pic) to serve as a guide in trimming the pie crust evenly. Using a sharp knife, trim away the excess pie crust.
Place the pan over a baking sheet.
Empty all the cooled filling (not the custard base) into the crust base. Spread out to cover the entire base. Drizzle the custard base over the filling.
Use a fork and gently press down along the edge of the pie crust to give it a decorative edge and so that the crust is just above the level of the filling.
Bake the pie in the hot oven for about 40 minutes till the custard filling has set and the pie crust has a very light brown color to it. Allow the pie to cool for about 5 minutes. Then separate the pan sides from the base.
Meanwhile, sauté the reserved asparagus spears in hot oil for on medium-high heat about 3-4 minutes until the spears are bite tender and succulent but still a bright green. Pile over the center of the pie and serve.
Serve immediately with a green salad or fruit salad on the side.
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