Potato Beet Salad

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In 1992, we took our young children to Grand Cayman island in the Caribbean. As all tourists do there, one day we took a boat out to swim with stingrays at Stingray City, followed by picnic on a beach of a local island.


So, what do I remember from this adventure? The creamy potato and beet salad. As well as fresh conch.

I have no Caribbean cuisine resources, so I decided to just make up the recipe. And it’s good.

What I enjoyed on that tropical beach was a tangy, earthy, creamy mixture of potatoes and beets. And now I can have that again, without the beach.

Potato and Beet Salad

6 medium-sized white potatoes, peeled or not
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 cans whole beets, lightly rinsed and well drained
2 shallots, minced
Chives, for serving
Hard-boiled egg halves, optional

Cut the potatoes into fairly uniform 1/2 – 3/4” size cubes. Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Toss in the potato cubes and salt. Cook until just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool in the colander.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon, lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Whisk until smooth and set aside.


Place the somewhat cooled potato cubes in the bowl with the mayo mixture and stir gently to combine. This allows the potatoes to absorb some of the creamy mixture.

Cube the beets into similar sized cubes as much as is possible, and toss into potato salad. I also let them sit on paper towels until I used them.

then add the shallots and fold in. Pinkness is okay, and will happen, but don’t overstir.


I actually used a ring to make the salad look less than it is – a creamy mess of a salad!


To serve, sprinkle the salad with chives.

Encircle the salad with egg halves, if desired.

I always think potato=based salads need more salt, so serve it as well.

Think of this salad with grilled shrimp, or chicken or sausage… just about anything.

Even beet haters, or people who think they dislike beets would love this salad. There’s nothing not to love!

I know it was almost 30 years ago when we took this vacation, but why do I look alien to myself?!! Who is that??!!!

Puttanesca Relish

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My mother gave me this lovely book simply called Charcuterie, published in 2014. “How to enjoy, serve and cook with cured meats.”

For the blog I’ve already made an eye catching and incredibly tasting salad – chorizo and red cabbage.

This little book is full of surprisingly unique recipes using charcuterie, making charcuterie, or for charcuterie.

Case in point, puttanesca relish caught my attention. Being that pasta puttanesca is my favorite pasta dish, I could easily imagine all of the puttanesca flavors together, served as a relish.

From the book, “This relish is quite like tapenade, but it’s lighter and not as rich. It can be used to add to sandwiches and recipes, but it’s also lovely served with a charcuterie board and spooned onto the meats.”

I couldn’t wait to make it. It’s as easy as making a tapenade, because you can use your food processor.

Puttanesca Relish
Slightly adapted

2 ounces pitted Kalamata olives
2 anchovy fillets, drained
2 teaspoons capers, drained
Big pinch of fresh chopped parsley
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 ounces canned San Marzano tomatoes, seeded, drained
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper flakes

Place the first six ingredients into a food processor and whizz until the pieces are nice and small and the texture is relatively smooth.

Add remaining ingredients. Leave some small chunks, don’t let it become a purée.

Transfer the mixture to a small sterilized jar or an airtight container and cover, if not using immediately.


I served the relish with soft bread, Parmesan, and soprasetta. It is outstanding.


This relish will keep for a week in the refrigerator, and is suitable for freezing.


If you freeze it, make sure to test the relish. It might need a boost in flavor.

I will definitely be making this again and again.

I used a new product for this recipe – capers in olive oil. Excellent.

Liptauer

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I should have been a skier. And not only a skier, but a skier who lives in Chamonix, France, or in the beautiful Dolomites of northern Italy. I love ski suits, I love hot toddies, and mostly, I’m always ready for après ski spreads.

I recently discovered a book called Alpine Cooking, by Meredith Erickson. In it she shares “recipes and stories from Europe’s grand mountaintops.”

Look at these stunning photos from the book.

The recipes are from France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland. The one I chose to make out of all of the tantalizingly cheesy recipes in the book is Liptauer, a spiced cheese spread, because I’ve never had it before!


The recipe uses quark, but I substituted fromage blanc. I’ve even seen cottage cheese in liptauer recipes, so I don’t think quark is a strict ingredient.


The author recommends that this spread is served with whole-wheat bread.

She also recommends a glass (or two) of crisp Gruner Veltliner as an accompaniment. I’m happy to oblige.

All I know, is that Liptauer is really really good.

Liptauer
Spiced Cheese Spread

145 g or 5 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
200 g or 7 ounces quark
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
1/4 yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon drained brined capers
3 anchovies, minced
10 gherkins, diced
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a medium bowl, using a fork or a small whisk, ship the butter until smooth, then add the quark and creme fraiche, stirring until smooth again.

Stir in the onion, capers, anchovies and pickles.


Finally, adjusting amounts as desired, add in the sour cream, mustard, caraway seeds, paprika, salt, pepper, chives, and parsley.


I am personally not terribly fond of caraway seeds, so my addition was more like 1/2 teaspoon. Plus I chopped the seeds a bit.

Transfer the mixture to a crock or glass jar for serving.

Serve at room temperature.

Oddly enough, the caraway seeds fit perfectly into this spread. That surprised me!

For interest, I used half sweet paprika and half smoked paprika, and it was perfect.

Pasta Puttanesca

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I recently looked at my recipe index for pasta ideas, because a girlfriend was visiting. I mean, who doesn’t love pasta, served with a salad. A perfect meal.

Creamy and cheesy pasta always comes to mind. But of course pasta with various types of red sauces, raw or cooked then pop into my brain… and I began dreaming of pasta puttanesca. It’s not something I can make for my husband because he is not fond of olives and capers… but my girlfriend is.

So, I looked up my own blog post for pasta puttanesca, because I knew I’d made it early on in my blog, and it was missing! All I had were these photos.

The “finished” pasta photos don’t look horrible, which many photos of mine did in the “early” days (2012-2014…) but for some reason the post had disappeared. And this pasta is my favorite pasta if you had a gun to my head.

Well, I got to make it again! And my girlfriend and I enjoyed it immensely.

The recipe I used is from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook “Kitchen,” – the story of her love affair with the kitchen.

Quote from Lady Nigella regarding pasta puttanesca: “Well, how could I resist this translation of pasta alla puttanesca, whore’s pasta as it usually is described in English? The general consensus seems to be that this is the sort of dish cooked by slatterns who don’t go to market to get their ingredients fresh, but are happy to use stuff out of jars and tins. I hold my hands up to that. Or maybe one should just attribute the name gamely to the fiery tang and robust saltiness of the dish?

I really wish I could talk and write like Ms. Lawson.

Pasta Puttanesca
Aka whore’s pasta
Printable recipe below
Serves: 4-6

3 tablespoons strong extra-virgin olive oil, like Hojasanta
8 anchovies (drained and finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon cayenne chile pepper flakes
1 pound spaghetti (I used linguine)
14 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 1/4 cups pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed, dried
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

Put water for pasta on to boil, though you don’t need to get started on the sauce until it is pretty well boiling.

Pour the oil into a wide, shallowish frying pan, casserole or wok, and put on a medium heat. Add the finely chopped anchovies and cook for about 3 minutes, pressing and pushing with a wooden spoon, until the anchovies have almost “melted”, then add the garlic and cayenne flakes and cook, stirring for another minute.


This is probably the stage at which you will want to be salting the boiling pasta water and adding the spaghetti to cook according to package instructions.

Add the tomatoes, olives and capers to the garlic-anchovy mixture, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and again, by which time it will have thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Just before the pasta is ready, remove about an espresso cupful of cooking water, and reserve it. When the pasta is cooked as desired, drain and add the spaghetti to the sauce in your wok or pan, adding a little reserved pasta water, if needed, to help amalgamate the sauce. (I don’t do this step.)

Scatter with chopped parsley, if there’s some to hand, and serve in slatternly style, preferably with an untipped cigarette clamped between crimson-painted lips.

What’s slatternly? No idea.

I served the pasta with a pinot noir. It was perfect.

 

 

Fancy Deviled Eggs

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My daughters always loved deviled eggs, so I used to make them often at Easter and other holidays. Now that they’re grown and gone, I realized I haven’t made them in years!

I typically made them with mayonnaise and sour cream, and sometimes a smidgen of Dijon mustard. But deviled egg filling is something with which you can get really creative. You can add herbs like basil or parsley, or chives, chopped pickles or sun-dried tomato bits, and so forth.

Today I’m making deviled eggs with smoked salmon. And, I’m adding some capers. For this recipe, make sure to buy small, unsalted capers.

To make these eggs, I’m also testing out a gadget I bought after seeing it on Instagram.

These are silicone egg cookers. Because I purchase the freshest eggs available, the shells are sometimes nearly impossible to remove, and that makes me crazy.

Here are the directions for the egg cookers: Crack, Boil, Pop. You can make eggs hard- or soft-boiled, or even create egg-shaped omelets. Why I’m not sure, but maybe kiddos would like them.

No directions came in the box. I started water on the stove. I wiped a few drops of olive oil in the cookers, then cracked an egg in each of them. The cookers don’t remove the shells for you, there just aren’t any shells.

When the water was at a full boil I added all 6 of the egg cookers.

I have no idea if they’re supposed to stay upright or fill up with water.

After 15 minutes I removed one and it seemed firm, but it wasn’t. I ate it like the soft-boiled egg that it was.

And then I gave up, threw everything away, and made eggs the old-fashioned way. I can’t tell you how I cook my eggs, and I hadn’t been prepared to write it down because I had these “fabulously innovative” egg cookers.

But I bring eggs to a boil, let them boil a bit, turn off the heat, wait a while, then submerge them in ice water. My head tells me when they’re ready.

So make hard-boil eggs your way. And do not buy this product. Fortunately it was only $8.99.

Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Capers
printable recipe below

8 large high-quality eggs, hard-boiled, chilled
1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
2 ounces smoked salmon, or to taste
1 ounce drained capers
Finely chopped shallots, optional
Sweet paprika, optional

Peel the hard-boiled eggs. There seems to always be one bastard in the bunch that won’t peel, which is why if I want them to look pretty, I typically boil a couple of extra eggs.

Slice eggs in half lengthwise, using a Sharp knife. Keep the knife clean between eggs by wiping it with a paper towel.

The next step is to gently squeeze the egg half to loosen the yolk. Place the yolks in a medium bowl.

Once you’re done, use a fork to mash the yolks. Add the mayonnaise and sour cream and mash until smooth.

Finely chop the salmon and fold in gently.

Place the egg white halves on a serving platter. Using a small spoon, carefully place a teaspoon or so at a time into the center. Try not to make a mess, which I usually do because I’m hurrying.

Right before serving, sprinkle some capers on each egg. If you really like caper flavor, you can include some in the egg yolk mixture.

Finely diced shallots are another possible topping for these fancy deviled eggs. It usually depends on my company whether or not I use raw shallots.

Serve at room temperature. These are really good with champagne or rosé, and with a charcuterie platter.

Tasting the egg filling is important, because both smoked salmon and capers are salty.

This is a photo I happened upon online of Bobby Flay’s deviled eggs with smoked trout. I don’t think it’s as pretty as using smoked salmon, but it’s certainly an option, and I love options.

I promise I will never buy another product I see advertised on Instagram.

 

 

Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs

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Whenever I’m having breakfast or brunch at a restaurant, I often order scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. There are a few reasons for this. For one, the combination of eggs and smoked salmon to me is heavenly. Secondly, I rarely order omelets because they’re typically overcooked and rubbery, depending on the quality of the restaurant. Thirdly I never order pancakes, waffles, or French toast because they’re just too carby and sugary for me.

This recipe can easily be turned into an omelet with mozzarella added, but when you cook eggs slowly in a buttered skillet, they are soft and creamy and cheese isn’t missed. And that’s a rare thing for me to say!

Make sure to use high-quality smoked salmon (lox) for this dish. Keep the salt to a minimum because the salmon will provide saltiness.

Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs
Generously serves 2

6 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
3-4 ounces smoked salmon, gently chopped
Creme fraiche, optional
Capers, optional

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream until smooth.

In a non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and turn down the heat slightly.

Cook the eggs while scraping them away from the bottom of the skillet using a rubber spatula continually but gently. Turn down the heat further if too much cooking occurs. Timing depends on the size of your skillet.


Take your time with the eggs. Right before the eggs are cooked according to your taste, sprinkle on the chopped salmon and fold into the eggs to heat through. Don’t add the smoked salmon any earlier or it will cook, and ruin the lox texture and flavor.

I only mention this because at home I prefer “wet” curds. These eggs are actually cooked more than I normally like, but I feel that many people would be put off by that!

For a heftier breakfast, have a warm slice of buttered and toasted bread or croissant half on the plate, and immediately top with the cooked eggs.


A little dollop of creme fraiche makes these eggs even more wonderful.

Plus you can sprinkle the eggs with capers, chives or chopped shallots if desired.


Just make sure to serve immediately so the softly cooked eggs don’t dry out or chill.


I love the addition of the toasted croissants, because they soften with the warm eggs, but maintain the buttery crust.

Smoked Salmon Quesadillas

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Back when I catered, I once created a quesadilla bar for a smallish party. It was a lot of work, with two skillets going, but the guests enjoyed choosing their custom ingredients and their ooey gooey appetizers.

If my memory serves, I had chicken, beef, and shrimp, peppers and onions, tomatoes and mangos, good cheeses, plus cilantro. There are just so many options with quesadillas.

On this blog I’ve posted on what I’d call traditional, southwestern-style quesadillas, which I’ve made a lot over the years, especially when my kids were home. I love serving them with both red and green salsas.

With flour tortillas that get extra crispy in butter, and all of the cheesy goodness inside, you hardly need anything else. But I do. And smoked salmon quesadillas are a perfect example of going beyond the traditional quesadilla.

Smoked Salmon Quesadillas
Makes 3 – 8″ quesadillas

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 ounces soft goat cheese like chèvre, at room temperature
1 generous tablespoon chopped chives
1 generous tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
6 – 8” flour tortillas
12 ounces grated mozzarella
6 ounces high quality smoked salmon
Butter, about 3 generous tablespoons

Mix together the cream cheese and goat cheese along with the chives and parsley until smooth. Don’t overstir.

In a 12” skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté them for about 5 minutes. Remove the cooked shallots to a small bowl, and keep the skillet on the stove. Get out a lid that works with the skillet as well as a large metal spatula.

Set out a large cutting board for cutting the quesadillas, and a serving platter.

Spread the soft cheese on all 6 tortillas.


Then add the slices of smoked salmon to 3 “bottom” tortillas, and top the salmon with 1/3 of the cooked shallots on each of the 3 tortillas.

When ready to start cooking, have all of the tortillas, tops and bottoms, the grated mozzarella, and butter on hand. It’s best to be fully prepared.

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter; some browning is good. Carefully place the bottom tortilla in the skillet, tortilla side down, then immediately add a generous amount of grated cheese, about 4 ounces per quesadilla, followed by the top tortilla (that only has the soft cheese spread on it.) Press gently on the quesadilla.

If the tortilla has crisped up golden on the bottom, carefully turn over the quesadilla using a heavy spatula. Press down on it with the spatula, then cover the skillet, turn down the heat and put on the lid.

The heat is lowered to allow the cheeses to melt thoroughly and the quesadilla to heat through.
.

Carefully place the quesadilla to the cutting board. Add more butter to the skillet, turn up the heat, and repeat with the remaining 2 quesadillas.

Let the quesadillas rest for at least five minutes before cutting up like a pizza, using a long knife or pizza cutter, then layer onto a serving platter.

Cover with a clean towel to keep them warm, but keep it loose. You want to retain the crispiness of the tortillas, which is why it’s best to work fast.

As an appetizer, these will serve quite a few people; they’re quite rich.

Keep in mind that these alone are fabulous with a rosé or Prosecco, or better yet, a sparkling rosé!

And if you prefer, use raw shallots instead of sautéed. Even capers can be used in the quesadillas.

You can play with my version of these quesadillas, but I highly suggest you stick to my cheeses because they’re mild. You want to taste the luscious smoked salmon in these.

The Best Salmon Spread

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Another salmon spread? There are so many out there, and I even have a few on this blog, but I love salmon in all forms. What makes this spread different is that both grilled salmon and smoked salmon are used, and it’s served warm.

So it’s not just a cream cheese mixed with bits of smoked salmon, or rillettes, or a layered concoction. (All of which are wonderful!) It’s a warm, delightfully sensorally captivating salmon spread.

It’s not terribly pretty. In fact, it’s probably best used for canapés. But if you’re not serving the Queen of England, it’s perfect to serve alongside pumpernickel bread or crackers to normal folks.

Double Salmon Spread

3 tablespoons butter
10 ounces salmon filets
Old Bay seasoning
10 ounces smoked salmon (lox), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup drained small capers
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Chives or dill leaves, optional

Heat the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. A little browning of the butter is fine. Sprinkle salmon filets with Old Bay.


Add the filets to the skillet and sauté until barely opaque in the center, turning over halfway through cooking. Remove the skin if they aren’t skinless.

Using a spatula, flake the cooked salmon into bits that aren’t too small.

Meanwhile, weigh out the smoked salmon and chop it. Place in a mixing bowl.

Add the capers, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice.

Then stir in everything from the skillet, including the warm butter. Gently stir and combine the ingredients well. Taste for seasoning.

To serve as canapés, spread a generous amount of the salmon mixture on each toast, and top with a dill sprig or chopped chives.

If preferred, serve the dip in a bowl on a serving platter surrounded by your favorite toasts and crackers.


The most important thing with this spread is that it’s served warm. Then you really get all of the flavors from the cooked and smoked salmon.

If you’re not a big fan of the generous amounts of mayonnaise and sour cream, simple reduce the amounts to 1/3 cup each.

If I’d made this in the summer, I would have used fresh dill on top of the spread, but chives will have to suffice for now!

Café de Paris Butter

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Café de Paris butter is something I’ve never come across, until I saw it on the blog called Food is the Best Shit Ever.

I know, I’ve told friends of mine whose children I’ve taught cooking to that I’ll never swear on my blog, but that is the name of some Aussie guy’s blog.  And I love it. Not just because of great food, of course, but also because that’s what I’d call my blog if it wouldn’t embarrass my kids.

I’m pretty sure he owns a restaurant or at least cooks at a restaurant and he especially loves to grill. He’s got a great sense of humor, and is irreverent – two really important personality traits in my book. Here’s a batch of tacos he made using barbequed pork belly and chorizo. Brilliant.

A quote from the author’s ABOUT page: Food is “my thing” through and through. I’m up in the morning (that is not a euphemism… although, maybe it is) thinking about food. I go to work and cook food for people all day. I come home and cook dinner for family and friends. I cook some more on my days off. Sure I do other things… but I just can’t remember what they are right now.

So this “guy” (obviously) gives no historical reference to this butter other than it obviously being French. Maybe he’ll read this post and help us out and at least give me his name. Maybe it is Guy!

This butter uses anchovies and capers. I prefer jarred anchovies. My only capers were salted so I gave them a rinse before using.

You’re going to have to have some steaks on hand so you can devour this butter!

Café de Paris Butter
(enough for a few steaks. Remaining butter will last in the fridge for 2 – 3 weeks)

1 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 shallot or ½ brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
20 g Indian style curry powder
250 g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup picked parsley leaves, chopped
2 tbls lemon juice
1 tbls Worcestershire sauce
5 anchovy fillets
½ tbls baby capers
1 tspn sea salt
1 tspn ground pepper
4 – 5 basil leaves, chopped
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic and curry powder over low heat until soft and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Place all of the remaining ingredients through the basil and thyme leaves in a small blender jar.

Then add the cooled shallot mixture.

Process all ingredients until just combined. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Put a big ol’ spoon or two onto your steak as it’s resting.

I can honestly say that this butter is spectacular! I even added a little salt to it, which surprised me.

I used Penzey’s sweet curry powder, which I love when I’m not using individual spices, but I think there must be a high ratio of turmeric in it. The flavor of the butter is a little curry-strong, and it’s certainly quite yellow!

Next time I will cut back on my curry powder but, trust me, it did not keep me from enjoying the butter on the filets.

I also think that next time I will process the butter more. I don’t really like chewing on parsley! But the butter flavor is outstanding.


Thanks, Guy from Australia!

I googled Café de Paris Butter and it became popular at a brasserie of the same name, Café de Paris, in Geneva, Switzerland.
 

Smoked Trout and Shrimp Pate´

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Although I’m a huge fan of smoked salmon, I probably would have balked at the idea of smoked trout, until I actually had it. And it’s spectacular.

Our younger daughter went to summer camp outside of Estes Park, Colorado two years in a row, and one time when we dropped her off, we stayed in cabins on a large, beautiful property. There were hiking trails and a large fish pond. They sold their own trout they smoked themselves on property.

The smoked trout was so good that we brought a bunch home in the ice chest. I just ate the smoked trout like one would enjoy kipper snacks – on crackers.

When I discover the paté recipe, shown below, I’m glad I didn’t hesitate to make it. It’s wonderful, in an unexpected way. I’m guessing this was cut out of Gourmet magazine, but I can’t find it online anywhere to confirm.

As the recipe states, cutouts of pumpernickel bread are fabulous, but so are any hearty crackers.

The recipe uses both smoked trout and baby shrimp, both of which I found canned.



The recipe is so easy because it utilizes a food processor for the room temperature cream cheese, lemon zest, trout, and shrimp.

Then it’s just a matter of folding in the green onion; I saved the capers to serve separately.

Serve the paté at room temperature.

Serve it with breads, crackers, and veggie sticks.

If you make individual canapes with the paté, buy an extra can of shrimp and put one baby shrimp on top of each canapé.

And don’t overprocess the mixture in the food processor. You want some texture.

You can serve the paté in a serving bowl with a server, or mold it in a bowl the day before serving and unmold onto a platter.