Smoked Trout Pate

smoked trout plate tastefood

Smoked Trout Pâté is the ideal recipe to have on hand for the holidays. Not only is it a snap to prepare, it’s versatile; elegant enough for a fancy party and simple enough for a fireside dinner. The ingredients are minimal and may be purchased in advance and stored in the refrigerator, ready to be blitzed at a moment’s notice or a surprise guest’s arrival. The smoky trout is fluffed and lightened with lemon and cream cheese, then crowned with crunchy toasted almonds and fresh chives. The flavor is so addictively good you might want to double up on the quantities, so you can make a separate stash for yourself.

smoked trout

Smoked Trout Pâté

Serve the pâté on baguette slices, pumpernickel rounds, or cubed pumpernickel bread. Don’t hold back on the almonds. Their nutty flavor and crunchy texture are what set these canapes apart. Smoked mackerel may be substituted for the trout. Makes about 2 cups.

8 ounces smoked trout (or mackerel), skin and any bones removed
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup grated onion with juices
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

Thinly sliced European-style pumpernickel squares, rounds or baguette slices
1/3 cup almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
Chopped chives

Process all of the pâté ingredients in the bowl of a food processor until light and smooth. If too thick, add a little more lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl. To serve, smear on pumpernickel bread or baguette slices. Sprinkle with almonds and chives.

Cauliflower Purée

Cauliflower Purée

~ Cauliflower, Celery Root, Garlic, Thyme ~

Looking for a simple side that’s light and fluffy but not mashed potatoes? This Cauliflower Purée is airy and delicate, a blend of cauliflower and celery root. One potato is added to the mix for a touch of heft and a little starch to prevent the purée from becoming a thick soup. The result is a refined side dish that is a wonderful accompaniment to fish, meat and winter stews.

Cauliflower Purée

The celery root, also known as celeriac, is mildly redolent of celery, and nicely balances the nutty and sweet notes of the cauliflower. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 medium celery root, peeled, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 large russet potato, peeled, chopped in 1 inch pices
Bouquet garni: 3 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf tied in cheesecloth
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in large pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Thyme sprigs as garnish

Combine cauliflower, celery root, potatoes and bouquet garni together in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until all of the vegetables are very tender. Drain and discard bouquet garni. Transfer to a food processor. Add garlic and butter and purée until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to blend. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm, garnished with thyme.

Kale Wrapped Salmon and Scallop Mousseline with Tomato Coulis

Kale Wrapped Salmon and Scallop Mousseline with Tomato Coulis

~ Charcutepalooza Challenge #8: Mousseline (and Cinematic Musings) ~

Even Fred Flintstone needs a break from meat now and then. I’ve been eating lots of red meat lately, so I was pleased that this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge presented the option of making a fish or seafood mousseline. What a delightful break from all of the meatiness. If previous challenges invoked the Flintstones, then this challenge was akin to Bambi. As I embarked upon this challenge my vision shifted from a Quentin Tarantino blood and guts filled trailer to a dreamy, gauze-filtered Jane Austen period piece. I pictured a tea party, replete with platters of finger sandwiches and fluffy delicate mousseline, and birds and butterflies fluttering around the garden table.

Yet even Bambi has its dark side. In this case it was the absolute cyclone that hit my kitchen while making and photographing this recipe. (Come to think of it, this seems to happen with most Charcutepalooza challenges). If you saw The Sixth Sense, do you remember the scene where all of the kitchen cabinets are flung open in a moment of fearful suspense? That is the state of my kitchen at this moment – utter disarray, overturned pots and pans, rejected food props, gooey knives, soiled kitchen towels, flung open drawers and doors. I am sure the refrigerator is still ajar, and most likely a few 4-legged gremlins are lurking about. Mighty scary, indeed. So if you will excuse me, I have some cleaning and possible exorcising to do.  Then I will change my clothes and sit down for my Charcutepalooza-Jane Austen inspired tea party.

Kale Wrapped Salmon and Scallop Mousseline with Tomato Coulis

I love kale and frequently pair it with salmon, so I couldn’t resist creating a ribbon of kale to encase the mousseline. As a surprise, I nestled a scallop in the middle of the mousse, which is an optional step. (Note: If you add the scallop it will infuse the salmon mousseline with a lovely sweet and briny flavor).
To pull it all together on the plate I made a simple tomato coulis which adds a bright acidic note to the luxurious mousse. Makes 6.

6 large kale leaves, split in half lengthwise, stems and ribs removed
1 pound salmon filet, skin and pin bones removed, cut in 1 inch chunks
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
3 sea scallops, halved horizontally
Tomato Coulis (recipe below)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add kale leaves and blanch 15 seconds. Remove with tongs and shock under cold water. Lay flat on a kitchen towel and pat dry.
Combine salmon, egg whites, shallots, dill, salt and pepper in a bowl of a food processor. Process until completely smooth. Transfer salmon to a bowl and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 300 F. (160 C.) Lightly oil (6) 3/4 cup ramekins. Carefully line the sides of the ramekins with the kale leaves. Remove salmon from refrigerator. Fold in 1/2 cup whipping cream. Return salmon to refrigerator. Whip remaining 1/2 cup cream in bowl of electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold into salmon mixture. Spoon half of the salmon mixture into the ramekins. Nestle a scallop half in center of salmon. Top with remaining salmon.
Place ramekins in a baking pan. Fill the pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover with buttered parchment. Bake in oven until puffed, firm and cooked through, about 35 minutes. (A toothpick will come clean when inserted in the middle).
Remove ramekins from oven and water bath. Invert onto a serving plate. Drizzle Tomato Coulis around the mousselines. Garnish with dill and lemon.

Tomato Coulis
Makes about 1 cup

1 pound ripe plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make shallow incisions around the stem with a paring knife and scoop out the stem. With same knife, make a shallow X-incision in bottom of tomato. Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil.  Plunge tomato into water for 10 seconds.  Remove and submerge in a bowl of ice water. Remove the cooled tomato from the water.  Peel away skin. To seed the tomato, cut the tomato in half.  Use your fingers to scoop out seeds and remove the core.
Combine tomatoes and olive oil in bowl of food processor.  Process until smooth.  Add salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for one hour before serving.  (Can be made one day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate.)  Serve at room temperature.

Smoked Mackerel Paté with Horseradish and Dill

Smoked Mackerel Paté with Horseradish and Dill

Smoked Mackerel Paté with Horseradish and Dill

In the world of blogging I have discovered that there are certain recipes that are sure-fire winners in terms of traffic. Usually these recipes are familiar crowd pleasers, such as comfort food favorites and baked treats we remember from our childhood. Then there are other recipes which generate less traffic. These are recipes we eat in our home that are inspired by the countries in which we’ve lived and traveled. They are part of my family story and they represent this blog’s voice. Most importantly, while they may be exotic or obscure to some, they are equally delicious.

Smoked Mackerel Paté with Horseradish and Dill is a family favorite with a Scandinavian slant which will fall in the second category for some. It reminds me of the Nordic culture, which I think of as frugal, minimal and tasteful. This recipe is easy and economical to prepare, requiring a short list of readily available ingredients. It’s rich in smoky, salty flavor, smoothed with cream and brightened with lemon and dill. And it’s packed with nutrients – mackerel is an excellent source of Vitamin D, magnesium, selenium and heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. That’s a lot to say about a simple pot of smoked fish mousse. Oh, and I should mention that it’s addictively good. So, go ahead – try it, and let me know what you think.

Smoked Mackerel Paté with Horseradish and Dill

This pate tastes best smeared on country style bread or baguette. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

8 ounces smoked mackerel or trout, skin and any pin bones removed
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus extra for garnish

Baguette slices
Dill sprigs

Combine the mackerel, cream cheese, horseradish, lemon juice and black pepper in bowl of food processor.  Process until the consistency is light and smooth. If too thick, add additional lemon juice. (The pate may be prepared up to 6 hours in advance at this point. Cover and refrigerate.) Before serving, stir in chopped dill. Serve smeared on baguette slices. Sprinkle with fresh horseradish and garnish with extra dill.


Dessert for a Crowd: Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries and Cream

Chocolate Mousse

What do you do when you have a small dinner party planned, and, suddenly, it takes on a life of its own and doubles in size?  When your vision of an intimate evening of food and wine shared with a few friends, becomes an exponential math exercise as your gathering grows – and grows?  In our home, where the motto “the more the merrier” is put into action more often than not, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve.

First and foremost, do not panic.  Second, if you had inspired ambitions of executing an intricate, multi-coursed, hands-on menu with expensive ingredients, you might want to file it for a later date.  The key is to keep things simple, get organized and create a menu that enables significant advance preparation. Typically, I am cooking as much, if not more, the day before a party. Many dishes can sit 24 hours, and some actually improve with sitting.  Meats can (and often should) marinate overnight. Dips, sauces, dressings, and some cold salads can be prepared a day in advance.  (Fresh greens and herbs can be added at the last minute, as these can morph into less vibrant versions of themselves after a day in the refrigerator.)  Set the table the night before.  And, by all means, choose a dessert that can be made at least one day in advance.

I have several fall-back party desserts that I rely on to feed a crowd which can be easily made in advance. A favorite is chocolate mousse.  It’s elegant, simple, versatile and a crowd-pleaser.  I like to prepare the mousse with 70% dark chocolate, which makes for a denser, more intense mousse.  Its richness begs for smaller portions which makes it easy to spread out among extra guests. It can be simple and plain for a casual event, or dressed up with a liqueur, such as Cointreau or Framboise, for a fancier event.  In the summertime, I add raspberries and cream to showcase the berry season, while in the winter some candied orange peel adds a festive touch.   Choose a creative way to present the mousse; I use small glass votives that showcase the mousse and its garnishes. 24 glasses can fill a tray which makes a wonderful presentation when passed around.

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries and Cream
This recipe may easily be doubled – Makes 12 small servings.

For the chocolate mousse:
2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces (150 grams) 70% dark chocolate

For the raspberry coulis:
8 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sifted powder sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh raspberries, for garnish
Grated dark chocolate, for garnish

Make the chocolate mousse:
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring frequently until smooth. While the chocolate is melting, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a nonreactive bowl.
2. Heat 3/4 cup cream in a heavy saucepan until hot; do not bring to a boil. Add the hot cream to the egg yolks in a steady stream, whisking to combine.  Pour the mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve and stir in the vanilla. Whisk custard into the chocolate until smooth, and then cool to room temperature.
3. Beat the remaining 1 1/4 cups heavy cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, and then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until thoroughly combined.
4. Spoon mousse into serving glasses or bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Make the raspberry coulis:
Combine the raspberries and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring and mashing the raspberries with a fork, until the sugar dissolves. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.  (Raspberry coulis can be made one day in advance and refrigerated until use.)

Make the whipped cream:
Beat the cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until thickened and traces of the mixer are visible. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until soft peaks form. ( The cream can be made 3 hours in advance; cover and refrigerate until needed.)

To serve:
Spoon a small layer of raspberry coulis over the mousse and spread evenly to cover. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and garnish with a fresh raspberry and grated chocolate.

Easy Holiday Party Food: Smoked Trout Mousse Canapées

Easy Holiday Party Food: Smoked Trout Mousse Canapées

smoked trout plate tastefood

This is another figurative little black dress in the holiday recipe department. Smoked trout mousse canapées are the perfect addition to your repertoire of go-to recipes for easy entertaining.  They are effortless to make, delcious to eat and elegant to serve.  The results are addictively good:  Salty, smoky trout lightened with cream cheese and brightened with fresh lemon juice. Toasted almonds and fresh dill add final crunchy freshness and tip these hors d’oervres into the sublime category. Just like a little black dress, this recipe is classic, popular and unfailingly dependable during the festive party season.

Smoked Trout Mousse

The ingredients keep well in the refrigerator, so they can be purchased in advance and kept on hand for an upcoming party dish or unexpected holiday visitors.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces (250 g.) smoked trout (or bluefish), skin and any bones removed
4 ounces (125 g. ) cream cheese, room temperature
1 small onion, grated with juices
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of Tabasco

1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
thinly sliced pumpernickel squares or sliced baguette

Dill sprigs
Fresh lemon slices, quartered

Combine all the ingredients except the almonds in bowl of food processor.  Process until consistency is light and smooth. (If too thick, add additional lemon juice.) Transfer to serving bowl.  Sprinkle with toasted almonds.  Serve with thinly sliced pumpernickel squares or sliced baguette.  Garnish with additional almonds, lemon slice and dill sprigs.