To make the challenge even more challenging, the rules say you can't use the "secret ingredients" that you used in the previous round. So, since I used dried cherries and tepin peppers, those were out of the running. But that's okay, that left me with six more ingredients that were still available. And I needed to pick three of those six ingredients to use in the remake.
The dish I almost chose was the Sweet and Spicy Vegetarian Chili made by Lemongrove Avenue. I was intrigued by the use of the dried cherries in the chili. I certainly could have made the dish with a different hot pepper, and I could have messed with the beans and maybe added some meat ... sure, I could have remade it, but the part the intrigued me was those cherries. And since I used them in my dish, I couldn't use them again. I'll set this one aside for later.
I had a couple others I waffled about, and there were a few non-winning entries I might go back to and make later. This was a really great group of recipes. Check out the whole list here, at the Marx Foods site.
I finally decided I wanted to remake the Fettuccini alla Carbonara made by We Like to Cook. It was a tough decision, but in the end, I was in the mood for some fresh pasta, and after thinking about the ingredients I could use, and the ones I couldn't ... this was the one.
But of course I couldn't simply make the dish - I had to remake it.
The pancetta went away and salmon came in. I sprinkled the salmon with fresh ground grains of paradise. You might have guessed that grains of paradise was another of the secret ingredients. It's an interesting spice. Sort of like pepper, but not quite the same.
And then I needed to do something with the sauce. I didn't want a typical cheesy sauce, but wanted something creamy so it would be similar to the original, so I went with a creme fraiche sauce with dill pollen. And yes, dill pollen was another secret ingredient.
Rather than mixing the sauce and pasta, I served it as a composed dish, with the salmon on top of the pasta, and a drizzle of sauce over the top. There was more sauce ready for diners to add at the table.
Salmon with Saffron Pasta and Creme Fraiche Dill Sauce
For the pasta:
1/4 cup warm water
Pinch of saffron
2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the salmon:
Freshly ground grains of paradise
1 pound salmon filet
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup white wine
1 cup creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon dill pollen
To make the pasta:
Set aside about 1/2 cup of flour, and put the rest of the flour in a pile on your work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour. Put the salt, eggs and the saffron water - including all the saffron threads - into the well. Start mixing the eggs with a fork, drawing in more flour as you go, until it's you can work it with your hands. Knead the dough until it's smooth, using the extra flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. The dough should be a little dense, but still kneadable.
Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and set it aside for at least 20 minutes. If you'll be holding it more than an hour, refrigerate it. You can make it up to this point and hold it until the next day before rolling. Let it come to room temperature before rolling.
Using a pasta roller or a rolling pin, roll the pasta to your desired thickness, keeping in mind that it will expand when you cook it. For easier cutting, flour the sheet of pasta, roll it up, and slice it into strips to make noodles. Unroll the strips, sprinkle them with flour to keep them from sticking, and spread them out so they won't stick before you cook them.
When you're ready, cook them in boiling salted water. Keep in mind that fresh noodles cook quickly. Cooking time will vary depending on how thick your noodles are but it should take just a few minutes.
To make the sauce:
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the flour, stir to combine, and cook for a few minutes. Add the wine and creme fraiche and stir until the mixture is smooth. Add the dill pollen and continue cooking until the mixture thickens.
To make the salmon:
In a saute pan, bring the water and wine to a boil and reduce to a simmer add the salt and stir to combine. Season the salmon with the grains of paradise and rub them onto the salmon. Add the salmon to the simmering liquid, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and poach the salmon for 7-8 minutes.
To serve, place the noodles on a plate, place the salmon on top, and drizzle with the sauce. Pass extra sauce at the table.