NYE, Gravad Lax & Celery Consommé w/ Pancake Noodles

Happy New Year & welcome, 2016! May it be a year filled with light, love and lots of good food for you. They say you can make new year’s wishes until the 6th in Switzerland, so I guess I’m still on schedule. We celebrated NYE with a couple of friends in our home with a dinner party. We served something very common and traditional on Holidays (Christmas and NY) in Switzerland: Fondue Chinoise.

I like it, because it means you have hours to sit and just enjoy the meal. After some prepping – we sliced our own beef and veal fillets, prepared the sauces and condiments, blanched some vegs as sides and cooked up a good vegetable broth – there isn’t anything left to do for the hosts. We opted for a special family recipe sauce tartare, a herbed butter, a chimmichurri sauce, horseradish foam and a ginger soy glaze (for the glass noodles that we boiled along the meat). In other words: a pretty good way to celebrate the last hours of the old year. We also cheered the new year with a nice bubbly and some cocktails from our bar. Cheers, new year!

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If you’re looking for the ideal starter for your next dinner party, try this delicate celery consommé with home made pancake noodles (which we simply call “Flädli” around here; but I quite like the sound of “pancake noodles”, haha) or a decadent home-brined salmon side with toast and horseradish sauce. By the way; gravad lax – i.e. brined salmon – on toast is my latest obsession. Had I known it’s so easy to make my own brine salmon at home, I’d probably brine salmon all day long. So good and so simple. Yet, it feels slightly decadent, just like a good vacation in a 5 star hotel.

Celery Consommé with Pancake Noodles

Ingredients for the Consommé:
1,3 kg celery (peeled about 700 g)
250 g onions, peeled
2 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tbsp. aniseeds
salt
200 ml vermouth (i.e. Noilly Prat)
1 bay leaf

For the “Flädli” aka Pancake Noodles:
100 ml milk
100 g flour, sieved
2 eggs
2-3 tbsp. mineral water with gas
1 pinch salt
nutmeg
100 g carrots
1 white wine vinegar
10-15 g butter

Directions:
For the consommé, peel and dice the onions and celery. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sweat the aniseeds and onions for 2-3 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the celery and sauté for 10 minutes. Season with salt, deglaze with the Noilly Prat and cook until reduced. Add bay leaf, 1,5 liter water and let simmer for about 1 hour. Line a fine mesh sieve with a cheeseclotch. Strain the broth through the sieve and cloth and let drain, thoroughly. Catch the broth and discard the rest. Reduce the broth to about 800 mo of liquid. Season with some more salt if necessary. Strain again through the cloth, then put aside and keep warm.

In the meantime, make the pancake noodles. Combine the flour, milk, eggs and mineral water, add salt and nutmeg. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Clean the carrots and cut brunoise style into very fine dice. Blanch them in salted water for 2 minutes, then drain and chill in ice water. Add the vinegar to the carrots and put aside. Melt the butter in a pan. Fry the pancakes one ladle a time, very thinly. Let cool on a plate, then cut up into noodles. Distribute the pancake noodles between four plates, add some carrot brunoise and fill up with the celery consommé. Serve immediately.

Now, are you ready for my all time favorite home made, 5 star feel treat…? Brined salmon, the stage is yours! One not from the chef (aka moi) before you head into your brining adventures: there are wet brines and dry brines. We experimented with wet brine this first time around, thanks to a tipp that I got from a (real) chef. It was a good decision. Apparently, the wet brine makes the infusion of the spices and the saltiness go into the salmon much faster – in less than 24 hours, our salmon side was ready to be consumed. The process is quite impressive. Really, make this, you won’t regret it!

Gravad Lax – Beer Brined Salmon Side

Ingredients:
1 fresh salmon side
1 liter of beer + some mineral water
3 handfuls of coarse sea salt
1 handful of brown sugar
1 tbsp. juniper berries
1 tbsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. yellow mustard seeds
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch rosemary

1 large bunch dill, finely chopped
Olive oil
Capers, lemon slices, horseradish foam, onion rings and toast to serve

Directions:
If you have a salmon that’s already filled, then just prepare the brine: toss together the spices and all the herbs (except the dill, we will need that only later after brining) and the beer in a large form, where the salmon side can lie flatly, skin side down. Submerge the salmon side in the brine, make sure the salmon is covered in brine wholly. If you need more liquid, fill up with mineral water. Cover tightly with cling film and let sit overnight or for up to 48 hours (we found that 24 hours were enough). After the brining, water the salmon or just quickly wash it under cold water. Pat dry thoroughly. Massage both sides – the clean side and the skin side – with some olive oil. Chop the dill very finely, then spread it on top of the salmon to create some sort of a herb crust. Now, take your sharpest fillet knife and slice the salmon very thinly against the skin. Serve with warm toast, horseradish foam, capers, onion rings and a slice of lemon. Voilà – your home made 5 star hotel snack!

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