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Cornet of Atlantic Salmon Tartare with Sweet Red Onion Creme Fraiche
Makes 24 Cornets
*7 tbls. flour
*4 tsp. sugar
*1 tsp. kosher salt
*1/2 cup (4 oz.) softened butter
*2 egg whites, cold
*1 to 2 tbls. black sesame seeds
*4 oz. salmon fillet (salmon belly preferred), very finely minced
*3/4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
*3/4 tsp. lemon oil
*1 1/2 tsp. finely minced chives
*1 1/2 tsp. finely minced shallots
*1/2 tsp. kosher salt
*Small pinch freshly ground white pepper
*1 tbls. red onions, finely minced, rinsed under cool running water and dried
*1/2 cup creme fraiche
*1/4 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste) and white pepper
*24 chive tips, about 1 inch long
1FOR THE CORNETS: In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the softened butter until it is completely smooth and mayonnaise-like in texture. Have the softened butter on the cool side (rather than the warm side) to make the best batter.
2Beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients using a stiff spatula or spoon until they are completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the softened butter by thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the batter is creamy and without any lumps. Transfer the mixture to a smaller container as it will be easier to work with.
3Make a 4-inch circular stencil. Place a Silpat(R) on the counter (it is easier to work on the Silpat before it is put on the sheet pan). Holding the template flat against the Silpat, scoop some of the batter onto the back of an offset spatula and spread it in an even layer over the template. Run the spatula over the entire template to remove any excess batter. After baking the first batch of cornet, you will be able to judge the correct coverage. You may need a little more or less batter to adjust the thickness of the cornet. There should not be any holes in the batter. Lift the template and repeat the process to fill the Silpat, leaving about 1 1 /2 inches between each cornet. Sprinkle each cornet with about 1/8 teaspoon black sesame seeds.
4Place the Silpat on a heavy sheet pan and into a 400F to 425F degree oven for about 6 to 7 minutes or until the batter is set and you see it rippling from the heat. Some areas may have browned but they will not be evenly browned at this point.
5Open the oven door and place the sheet pan on the door. This will help keep the cornet warm as you roll them and will prevent them from becoming too stiff to roll. Flip a cornet over on the sheet pan, sesame seed side down, and place a cornet mold (size #35, 4 1/2-inch mold) at the bottom of the round. If you are right-handed, you will want the pointed end on your left and the open end on your right. The tip of the mold should touch the lower left edge (at about 7:00 on a clock) of your cornet. Tuck the bottom of the cornet up and around your mold and carefully roll upwards and towards the left to wrap the cornet tightly around the mold. It should remain on the sheet pan as you roll. Leaving the cornet wrapped around the mold, arrange each rolled cornet, seam side down, on the sheet pan letting them lean against each other to prevent them from rolling.
6When all the cornet are rolled, return them to the oven shelf and close the door. Allow them to bake an additional 3 to 4 minutes to set the seam and reach a golden brown. If the color is uneven, stand the cornet on end for a few more minutes until the color is even. Remove the cornet from the oven and allow to cool just slightly, 30 seconds or so.
7Gently remove them from the molds and cool the cornets for several minutes on paper towels. Remove the Silpat from the sheet pan, allowing it to cool down, before spreading the next batch. Store the cornet up to a day (for maximum flavor) in an airtight container.
8FOR THE SALMON TARTARE: With a sharp knife, finely mince the salmon fillet and place it in a small bowl (do not use a food processor as it would damage the texture of the fish). Stir the remaining ingredients into the salmon and taste for seasoning. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the tartare for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.
9FOR THE SWEET RED ONION CREME FRAICHE: Place the red onions in a small strainer and rinse them under cold water for several seconds. Dry them on paper towels. Whisk the creme fraiche in a small metal bowl for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the creme fraiche holds soft peaks when you lift the whisk. Fold in the chopped onions and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the onion cream to a container, cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
10TO COMPLETE: Fill the top 1/2 inch of each cornet with the onion cream. This is easily done using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip or with the tip of a small knife. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the tartare over the onion cream and mold the fillings into a dome resembling an ice cream cone. Press a chive tip against one side of the tartare to garnish.
  • When you arrive at the French Laundry and begin to peruse the menu, a waiter will offer you what looks like a miniature sugar cone with a scoop of pink ice cream. The waiter will smile, say "Salmon tartare with red onion creme fraiche in a savory tuile," and shimmer off!

Recipes courtesy of Chef Thomas Keller from The French Laundry Cookbook published by Workman Publishing, 2003