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Salmon Bisque & A Pistachio Pear Gratin

Salmon Bisque

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday weekend. We kept it low key having dinner with a good friend on Christmas Eve and with family on Sunday. Yesterday was spent with friends again over a light lunch and a relaxing afternoon.

Salmon Bisque

Thank you everyone for the sweet and kind words of condolences about my grandfather’s passing. It made this weekend a little easier to navigate. Oh there were tears, trust me…but they were immediately followed with a feeling of peace. My heart was full of all the goodness one can give and receive in a lifetime. Thank you again for your patience and care.

Salmon Bisque

Let me play Santa a little bit longer and announce the winners of the Christmas giveaway. I asked my dear and only to give me three numbers at random among all the valid entries. Yes, he’s my random number generator.
The two winners of Plate To Pixel are Jenny Mendes and Adrienne from A Big Mouthful.
The winner of Girl Hunter is Wen from Journal Through Lens. Congrats! Please send me your snail mail addresses at mytartelette AT gmail DOT com.

Now on to the recipes…

Pear Gratin

Every year at Christmas, smoked salmon has to be part of the appetizer offerings at my parents'. It’s tradition. Salmon, blinis and foie gras with brioche toasts. Since we started last week without any firm plans for Christmas Eve, I was making my own plans to prepare a nice dinner for two and relax on the back deck watching all the docks decorated with Christmas lights. A sight to be seen…for sure.

Pear Gratin

On the menu was a Salmon Bisque, followed by crab cakes and finished off with a Pistachio and Pear Gratin. As the soup was simmering, my inbox started buzzing and within minutes our plans had changed for the 24th. Not a problem. From the scents wafting through the kitchen, we would not be disappointed to have it for lunch the next day. The soup was a cinch to put together, light and tasty. Everything one can ask for during busy times and especially in between a few copious meals.

Red Currants

The gratin was a unexpected hit with Bill and one I will repeat soon and with other fruits too. I had a surplus of tiny cute Forelle pears from a couple of projects and was trying to find other ways than tarts and tartlets to use them. Nothing wrong with those…trust me. I am the first one to slow down for a slice of pear tart!

This dessert is the perfect results of many kitchen happenings all coming together at once. Too many pears, red currants finally being available now that the temperatures had dropped, a pound cake made on a whim one night I could not find sleep and there you have it. A light, fragrant, cozy and comforting vanilla custard blanketing thin slices of cake with tart little pops of red currants every other bites.

From the look of immense delight at the dinner table the other day, I can safely say these two recipes were a huge hit. Making another batch of soup today!

Pear Gratin

Salmon Bisque, adapted from Saveurs France:
Serves 4 to 6

Notes: do not worry about how fine a dice, cube or chop, the ingredients are since they are all going to be pureed. Croutons are somewhat of a tradition in my family with soups and I simply toss some cubed day-old bread with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and toast that over the stove. Crème fraiche is a perfect topping for the soup but sour cream is a fine substitute.
Salmon can be expensive, so I usually ask my fish guy at the store to give me the good scraps they cut off when filleting whole fish. They are most happy to find a taker and usually give me half price on those.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, white parts only, well cleaned and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, sliced
2 small red potatoes, peeled and diced
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups vegetable stock
1 pound skinless salmon fillets, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
croutons, crème fraiche and chives to garnish

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium. Add the leeks, garlic, carrots and potatoes and sautee for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine, stock and salmon. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool and puree until smooth (see notes). Check the seasoning and serve. Top each bowl with some croutons, crème fraiche and chives if desired.
Earlier this year, the nice folks at Blendtec gifted me with one of their mixers and this is what I now use all the time to puree and blend soups. Takes less than a minute for super smooth bisques and soups. A immersion blender or any good capacity and sharp bladed food processor will also do great here.


Pistachio and Pear Gratins, adapted from Saveurs France.

Serves 6

Notes: I love my friend Jeanne’s recipe for pound cake. I had the pleasure this summer to work with my friend Clare on Jeanne’s gluten free baking cookbook and had to make about 75% of the recipes for photography. I got to tell you, Jeanne is about the only person I now trust for gluten free baking anything. Everything is always tasty, correct and of great texture. The recipe she came up with years ago for her gluten free all purpose flour blend is super easy and substitute cup for cup with regular all purpose flour so feel free to go gluten free or not without fear.
Once the pound cake is made and cooled (feel free to prepare it a day in advance), the assembly comes together in no time.

6 small Forelle pears (or 2-3 medium pears)
12 thin slices of Jeanne’s pound cake (minus the glaze)
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup red currants or other berries
2 tablespoons finely ground pistachios

Butter a 9×13 gratin dish or individual ones and preheat the oven to 350F. Position a rack in the center.
Peel, core and thinly slice the pears. Set aside (don’t worry about oxidization too much since the dessert assembly is fast but you can always sprinkle them with a bit of lemon juice if you wish).
Cut the pound cake slices in triangles. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, eggs and sugar until smooth.
Layer the pear and pound cake slices in your gratin dish(es). Slowly pour the custard batter on top. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with some red currants and ground pistachios scattered over the top.

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Brian Samuels Photography December 27, 2011 um 6:56 pm

Both look amazing, but I'm all about that bisque right now.

Seanna Lea December 27, 2011 um 10:06 pm

I love currants, so as soon as they are available in my area (much later than in yours) I'm going to make the gratin. Thank you!

Unknown December 27, 2011 um 10:25 pm

Mmmm…that bisque sounds so good. With all of the rich foods lately, soups are lining up at our house. I wish I could find currants around here…they are so petite and pretty.

Juls @ Juls' Kitchen December 27, 2011 um 10:39 pm

smoked salmon is a must in my family as well for Christmas. This year, being in charge of the menu for the very first time, I decided to make the gravlax and used your recipe as starting point, adding pink peppercorns, black pepper and Sichuan pepper.
So I'm a great fan of everything made with salmon, this bisque sounds divine!
The gratin seems another winning dish as well!

Miss T December 27, 2011 um 11:04 pm

I remember having Soup de Poisson in Paris and this looks quite similar – maybe my french spelling is not so similar!

peachkins December 27, 2011 um 11:53 pm

Happy New year!

beti December 28, 2011 um 4:54 am

the salmon bisque looks incredibly silky and smooth, I love the pictures

WendyinKK December 28, 2011 um 5:35 am

When I saw the gratin, I was jumping for joy! There's a thinly sliced cake in the fridge that I don't know what to do with. And I have pears and blueberries!!! Thanks a lot for this recipe.

Rut December 28, 2011 um 8:47 am

Seguo i tuoi post…..come sempre uniche e belissime foto con appetitose ricette!Buon lavoro da Rut

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga December 28, 2011 um 11:40 am

It looks so beautiful and I just want to run my finger through that whipped cream on top of the gratin or is it creme fraiche..whatever it is…yum.

And glad you have someone's GF recipes you *trust* to turn out spot-on..yay for small miracles 🙂

Valérie (France) December 28, 2011 um 12:08 pm

je suis tentée par la bisque de saumon, un délice
Je te souhaite un beau mercredi

Rachel Willen@FoodFix December 28, 2011 um 3:11 pm

The bisque is now on my list of things to make! And thank you for the suggestion of getting scraps from the fish monger…I have a great one in my town and I always get bones from him to do stock…so salmon scraps are a wonderful idea…that is sparking other ideas like salmon cakes, salmon "burgers" ….the photos, as usual, are stunning. I'm on the waiting list for your spring workshop…keeping my fingers crossed something opens up!

Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet December 28, 2011 um 5:26 pm

Sounds so cozy and completely delicious!

Shelby December 28, 2011 um 5:58 pm

A Salmon bisque! That's one I've never thought of…sounds (and looks) absolutely delicious! Followed by the most mouthwatering dessert… mmmm!
Thank you!

Karen December 28, 2011 um 8:59 pm

I'm sorry for the loss of your grandfather, he sounds like an amazing man. I just got your book with a Christmas gift card. I'm loving it!

kyleen December 29, 2011 um 5:03 pm

I. Love. Your. Pictures. They're gorgeous! I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of your grandfather. Your strength and courage at trying time is commendable. I hope you enjoy the rest of your holidays.

Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe December 29, 2011 um 7:06 pm

Both of these look delicious!

Alicia December 29, 2011 um 7:52 pm

Its look great!I love them!

Daisy@Nevertoosweet December 29, 2011 um 8:08 pm

Wow never had bisque at home before but that looks and sounds delicious!

Definitely want to try the dessert though!!! YUMM!

Adam Hegsted December 29, 2011 um 11:03 pm

Those recipes look insanely delicious. Can't wait to try the bisque. Great site by the way.

Magic of Spice December 29, 2011 um 11:34 pm

What a beautiful meal!
Sorry to hear of your loss, best wishes to you and family.

Ilke December 30, 2011 um 1:03 am

It feels good to be flexible with changing plans. Hope you had fun.

I am now thinking about this soup for New Year Eve's dinner. I will run it by the group and see what they say.
Have a great 2012. I hope it brings you much joy and adventure 🙂

MikeVFMK December 30, 2011 um 1:11 am

Gorgeous, Helene. Each recipe looks heavenly. I always choose soup though so I'd aim for that first.

Happy New Year to you and your family.

HoosierHomemade December 30, 2011 um 1:17 am

I bought your Plate to Pixel Book for my hubby {and myself} for Christmas, not even realizing until I got it home that it is your book.
We LOVE it! Awesome information!
Thanks so much!

Zazacook December 30, 2011 um 1:58 am

Thank you for your pictures! C'est un plaisir de les regarder. Je vais commencer la lecture de votre livre pour réussir à faire la parfaite photo! Je regarde votre blog depuis 2008 et avec mon mari nous sommes toujours émerveillés par vos photos culinaires.
Merci pour votre blog et tout notre soutien dans ce moment difficile suite au décès de votre grand-père.

Cakebrain December 30, 2011 um 3:52 am

I was feeling down and uninspired…so I came for a visit and as usual felt much better after looking at your gorgeous photos and your beautiful food! Happy Holidays and Best wishes for a fantastic New Year!

Interior Design Directory December 31, 2011 um 6:26 am

Thank you for sharing these recipes. I'll surprise my hubby with with this. Happy New Year!

El December 31, 2011 um 3:32 pm

Gorgeous work. Have a wonderful New year!

test it comm December 31, 2011 um 8:33 pm

I really like the sound of a salmon bisque!

Agnieszka Szczechowiak January 1, 2012 um 6:27 pm

All of your posts and photo's are great. I love your style.
I'm interensted in food styling and food photography from really short time but it's great fun for me and I want to learn more about it. What do you think about organize food photography workshop in Poland? 🙂

Greetings from Poland.

Btw.sory for my english skills, but I’m learning still.

Vanessa January 2, 2012 um 10:01 pm

Looooving those soup photos!

Unknown January 4, 2012 um 11:00 pm

These recipes sound amazing, I love the idea of a pistachios and pears combined. Following your blog now.

Melanie January 7, 2012 um 3:48 pm

Love the look of the bisque, and I'm addicted to pistachios right now. Fabulous photos, very inspiring. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

Cooking Rookie January 7, 2012 um 10:07 pm

I have never made a fish soup, but your bisque with pureed salmon is an ingenious way to feed fish to those who don't eat fish if it looks like fish. So far my solution has been to chop the fish into tiny pieces and use a lot of dark sauce, not very appetizing, right? 😉 I must try your recipe! And the pear gratin looks gorgeous! I will make them together 🙂

Ryan January 9, 2012 um 4:28 pm

Amazing photos! That blue bottle is gorgeous!

Kim Bee January 14, 2012 um 9:08 pm

I have to tell you that I am reading your wonderful book right now. I am trying to remind myself that I need to learn with my old yucky camera first before I graduate to a better one. Which is good since I can't afford the one I want. Lol! I have so far to go but am so pleased with how far I've come largely due to your inspiration. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I am drooling over the tart. Anything with pistachios just shouts my name. Add some currants and I am in heaven. This is really beautiful!

Wild Greens and Sardines July 28, 2012 um 2:20 pm

I love your version of salmon bisque. Made it for the second time last night — delicious! I made one tweak, hate to see the salmon skin go unused, so I crisped it up in a pan with some olive oil and used as a garnish.

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