Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pulaski > Crusher

There was that little bump in the road with Dr. Pulaski at first refusing to acknowledge Data as a sentient Starfleet officer equal to any flesh-and-blood sentient Starfleet officer. Otherwise, she smokes Dr. Crusher in every way: she can recite Klingon literature from memory, demonstrates her knowledge of technology-independent medical care in the second-season episode "Contagion," and has a snarky sense of humor that dovetails neatly with her firm-but-caring bedside manner. And, in a little human touch, she's afraid of the transporter. That beats out noblebright, tap-dancing Beverly in every way, in my opinion.

The important stuff being out of the way, I can keep talking about butter.

I've written about brioche before, but that brioche did not incorporate homemade buttermilk and cultured butter. This one does, which makes it strictly better. I was brainstorming things to make from the approximately 1 kilo of dough this recipe yielded. Brioche buns stuffed with caramelized onions and sage, brioche pain perdu, brioche cinnamon rolls, brioche crostini... brioche crostini!

Remember the whole "sorry" thing? I'm very sorry that I didn't smoke my own salmon for this. Andy told me to shut up and make more crostini.

Brioche salmon things

I used this recipe for the dough, except with fresh buttermilk instead of the whole milk, a little over 6 oz of salted cultured butter, and a little less salt. The dough will taste very sugary; while the end product is not as sweet, you may want to reduce the sugar if you know you'll be using the bread for a savory recipe.

To bake: generously butter the cups of a muffin tin. Remove the dough from the fridge and gently deflate it. Fill each muffin cup half to two-thirds of the way to the top with dough, working quickly while it's cool and malleable. Allow to rise in a not-too-warm place until the dough just crests the top of the cups.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. About 5 minutes before baking, brush the tops of the brioches with egg yolk beaten with a little buttermilk or melted butter; just before you put them in the oven, brush them again. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, or until the tops are a deep golden brown. Remove from the tin and cool completely before using as below.

Cut the mini brioches into 1-inch-thick slices, reserving the domed tops for bread pudding (or snacking). If you like, brush the tops of the slices with butter and broil until golden brown and crispy. Slice the cucumber into quarter-inch slices and pat dry. Lay a cucumber slice on each brioche slice. Pipe on some fat-free Greek yogurt or other thick yogurt (or sour cream, or crème fraîche, or slightly softened cream cheese, but I personally think that's way too rich) and sprinkle liberally with chives. Top with a rosette of smoked salmon, lox, or sushi-grade raw salmon, and finish it off with a fine grating of lemon zest and some cracked black pepper. If using raw salmon, also add a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. Other options: using fresh dill instead of (or in addition to ) the chives; add on chopped smoked or raw almonds for crunch.

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