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4 Velveteers' Verrine

Dear Readers, my apologies for not blogging anything new for a week. After my laptop died on me a few weeks ago, I started using my old PC (used to work on this PC before Little One was born) as an alternative but there were a few things I didn't quite bargain for. Like it used to have very weak Wifi signal that would most of the time prevent me from saving my post, but that was finally fixed by Pierre with a €69 plug. However it didn't fix the age of this PC - surfing or even typing something online is something else when we are also used to newer and faster PC. Just to give a general idea: I can type faster than it can print the letters on screen! I can take 40 winks while reading newspaper or blogs. Yep, it's that slow. So please do bear with me for a while until I get a new laptop.

Today, we are going to make a Verrine. I'm sure you have seen lots of cookbooks specialising on Verrine and even had it in the restaurants, as they have become very popular lately. You might be wondering like I did, what precisely is Verrines?

"A verrine is a confection, originally from France, made by layering ingredients in a small glass. It can be either sweet or savoury, making a dessert or snack." (Wikipedia)

So what has today's 'Verrine' got to do with The 4 Velveteers? Well, after our great adventure at making au naturel Red Velvet Cake (hence our name sake - Aparna, Asha, Alessio & I) and enjoyed it thoroughly, we decided to make it into a monthly event to spur each of us to great heights in our cooking/baking arena. For this month, we decided to make a savoury Verrine. To make it more challenging, we decided to do a blind concoction: each of us picked a secret ingredient and the 4 ingredients were revealed at the same time. I picked Salmon, Aparna chose Cheese while Asha decided on Squash/Pumpkin. Now, of course, Alessio being Al, has to throw all of us out of the loop with his pick of Chocolates. Yes you read it correctly. CHOCOLATES!

This month challenge is quite a difficult one for me as I'm not a great cook like Aparna, Alessio, or Asha. I still have a lot to learn. To be honest with you, I have never made anything with pumpkin or made a verrine before. The last time I tried to make a pumpkin tart, it turned out to be a disaster but my in laws and Pierre bravely ate it all the same. (Well that's another story) Anyway, I toyed with different mix and layers in my head for weeks. At first I wanted to make a curried pumpkin version to go with fresh salmon like sashmi but my curried pumpkin turned out awful. (had to dump it in the bin) so I stroke off that idea. Smoked salmon came to my mind a little bit too late as we have already done our grocery shopping for the week, so I had to stick to original idea of using fresh salmon. Then my mind was roused by the delicious fragrance of steamed gingered salmon with nice crunchy refreshing cucumber. Now how to pair it with cheese, pumpkin & chocolates was another challenge. Soon the idea of chived mixed with cottage cheese with small bits of dark chocolates started playing in my mind - then came the idea of having something crispy like chips ...voilà pumpkin chips was born. So with all that in mind, I finally set out to make my very special verrine. Hope you'll like it too.

4 Velveteers' Verrine
Ingredients
  • fresh salmon (cut into cubes)
  • ginger (peeled, julienned finely)
  • a bit of light soya sauce
  • some pumpkin slices (thin)
  • cottage cheese or mozzarella (cubed)
  • grated dark or small broken bits chocolates
  • some chives (chopped finely)
Directions

Preparing Salmon layer

  1. In a small bowl, marinate salmon with a bit of light soya sauce, pepper & ginger. Steamed the salmon for about 10 minutes or until it is cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. (Adjust the steaming time accordingly if it's a big plate of salmon)
  2. Set it aside and keep warm.

Making Pumpkin Chips

  1. Grease a plate (microwave safe) with a thin layer of olive oil.
  2. Coat each slices of pumpkin with olive oil and spaced them out on the prepared greased plate.
  3. Microwave it for 2 to 4 minutes. Then turn each pumpkin slices over and microwave it another 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Take them out and let it crisp up on a clean plate. Continue to do same with the rest of the pumpkin slices.
  5. Voilà, you have your crispy pumpkin chips.

Preparing Cheese layer

  1. In a small bowl, mix cottage cheese or mozzarella cheese with chopped chives and dark chocolates bits.
  2. Set aside.

Assembling Velveteers Verrine

  1. Take a verrine or a glass yogurt pot, spread a thin layer of diced cucumbers.
  2. Spread a layer of gingered salmon on top of the cucumber.
  3. Spoon a layer of cheese mix on top of the salmon layer.
  4. Spread a layer of roughly crushed pumpkin chips on top of the cheese.
  5. Serve immediately.
The Verdict

To my great surprise, it actually turned out good. The ingredients really blends well. The crushed layer of pumpkin chips gives a good flavour and texture to the chived cheese. The introduction of dark chocolate bits in the cheese was kinda odd at first but once we get over the surprise, we start to enjoy this new taste and find that it actually fits. The gingered salmon turned out really good. Overall, you have a very fragrant taste with a crunchy yet springy and refreshing savour all at once.

On the hindsight, I think mozzarella cheese would have been more ideal than cottage cheese as mozzarella is more firm and springy in taste which would go better with the soft textured salmon. For the salmon, perhaps it might have been better to steam it as a whole instead of in small pieces, to make it firmer. And also a more generous layer of roughly crushed pumpkin chips on top. I would like to make this again with this adjustment and experiment with making one with fresh raw salmon with a squeeze of lemon juice (perhaps).

4 Velveteers' Verrine
Notes

When making pumpkin chips, it is best to wipe the plate now and then or else oil accumulates and your chips will turn out to be very oily.

The 4 Velveteers (as we called ourselves) are hosting a monthly event that explores food, cuisine or our passion about something that catches our interests. All of us shares our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs. Every month will be a surprise - we never know what we'll make next. So if you're interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment and we will get back to you.

Do check out what the other Velveteers have come up with:

4 Velveteers' Verrine
9 comments.
#1, by Anh (03/30/2010)

Oh, no wonder I didn't see you on twitter! Hopefully the new laptop comes soon.

This is such a different verine! Interesting!!

#2, by Meeta (03/31/2010)

Pam this is a lovely refreshing Eater idea!! especially like the idea of the chocolate!

#3, by Aparna (03/31/2010)

Pam, I really feel for you on the PC issue!
Your verrine looks so good. Pumpkin chips, yummy. I am a great cook? LOL You have no idea how much time it took (most of the month) for me to figure out what to do with pumpkin, zucchini and chocolate!!!

But it all worked out with us. Looking forward to the next "mission".:-)

#4, by Alessio (03/31/2010)

Welcome back Pam!:-) I feel for you telematic pains too:-(
Probably you may try typing your posts in something like notepad and copy-paste it on your blog? this was it should be less stressy:-)
Liked the idea of cucumber in your verrine, making it ready for summer. Nice also the contrast of textures. Glad you weren't put off by the chocolate eheh;-)
Let's keep up the good work.

One for all and all for one! (cake that is :P)

#5, by Lyndsey (03/31/2010)

Very interesting post. I'ts nice to have you back!

#6, by Ching (03/31/2010)

Interesting verrine. I am not familiar with eating this kind of thing.

#7, by diva (04/01/2010)

Nice verrine and lovely jar you've used for it. It's been too long. I hope you're well Pam!

#8, by Jamie (04/08/2010)

Very cool! I love reading how it all played out in your head and came down to this recipe! Exciting! And I think it sounds intriguing and delicious! I love the choice of ingredients and how you all 4 came up with such interesting ideas! But, Pam, you really are going to have to change your first name to start with an A!

#9, by Kitchen Butterfly (04/15/2010)

I LOVEEEEEEE verrines, and this savoury version is yum