Layered Salmon Spread

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One day I was searching on Epicurious.com and came across a recipe that got my attention. The recipe is “Smoked Salmon 7-Layer Dip.”

The name befuddled me at first, because when I think of layered dips my mind goes directly to Mexican-inspired dips with beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, salsa, and so forth. Although I have presented a Mediterranean version of a layered dip on my blog. But still, smoked salmon?

Furthermore, it’s not lox in this dip – it’s hot-smoked salmon. I was truly curious.

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Before I could put the spread together, I hot-smoked salmon steaks. My Cameron stove-top smoker is so useful for salmon. In fact, it’s primarily why I use it.

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If you want to know how I hot-smoked salmon with this smoker, please refer to the post here.

You can change up the wood you use for the smoke, but it’s essential to not overcook the salmon. Like in the tutorial, I smoked these steaks for 15 minutes, timed from when the smoking begins.

Here is the recipe as I adapted it:

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Smoked Salmon 7-Layer Dip

2 salmon steaks, seasoned with salt and pepper
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 small cooked beets
2-3 tablespoons creamy horseradish, depending on your taste
4 tablespoons sour cream
4 radishes, trimmed, finely chopped
Drained capers, about 1/3 cup
Chopped green onions
Zest from 1 lemon
Pumpernickel bread

After smoking the salmon, remove it from the skin, flake it, and divide in half. From the beautiful photograph of this spread online, it’s obvious that the salmon was more finely chopped. It’s another option.

Beat together the cream cheese, goat cheese, and butter in a medium bowl; set aside

Make the beet horseradish by combining the beets, horseradish and sour cream in a small blender. The texture should be spreadable.

Have the radishes, capers, and green onions on hand. I had intended on including shallots but I simply forgot.

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This spread could be made in a springform pan lined with plastic wrap and flipped over when ready to be served, but I simply used the 6″ greased form without the bottom to mimic a ring mold. Place the form, if you’re using one, on a serving plate.

Spread half of cream cheese mixture evenly inside the ring mold, smoothing surface with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the cream cheese with half of the salmon.

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Scatter the radishes and capers over the salmon. Drizzle half of the beet horseradish sauce over the top.

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Top with the remaining cream cheese mixture and salmon. I poured the remaining beet horseradish sauce over the salmon.

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Scatter on more radishes and capers.

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Sprinkle the green onions in the middle, and for a little color and zing, I added lemon zest.

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Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve, simply slide the springform mold up. I would suggest leaving the spread at room temperature for at least one hour before serving.

The layered spread is absolutely vibrant.

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I served with the spread with pumpernickel triangles. Bagel crisps or pita chips would also be good.

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The spread can be made the morning of, but I wouldn’t make it the day before serving.

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Grilled salmon would work just as well as hot-smoked.

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Note: In the original recipe, the feta-cream cheese and the beet horseradish were all blended together, which made the spread very pretty, but I wanted more actual layers, so I kept those elements separate.

Croxetti with Smoked Salmon

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Last April when my husband and I visited New York City for my birthday, we went to Eataly. I could have spent much more time there, but my “other half” has limited patience shopping. We checked out the whole place, which requires a map if you want to do it in an orderly fashion, and then ate an incredible lunch.

My husband convinced me to shop online at Eataly.com instead of dragging groceries back home in my suitcase. In retrospect I think it was a trick to keep me from really shopping, but nonetheless I did grab a few Italian goodies.

One was Croxetti, a beautiful embossed pasta that I’d never seen before. I have since learned that the spelling can vary, but these “pendants” are Ligurian in origin.

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Over the many years of Croxetti development, the “traditional” designs have varied. The following photo is an example of a wooden stamp used for embossing, taken from the blog A Path To Lunch.

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I highly recommend reading the blog post I highlighted above. The blog’s authors, Martha and Mike, describe and photograph a meeting with the craftsman Mr. Pietro Picetti, who custom designs croxetti stamps in his workshop in Varese Ligure, Liguria.

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For the croxetti, I chose a light cream sauce with smoked salmon, hoping it would be a delicate enough sauce to not destroy the integrity of these delicate pasta discs once cooked.
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No real recipe is required. The pasta is cooked according to the package directions.
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I sautéed a few minced garlic cloves in hot olive oil, just for a few seconds, then added cream to the pot. Pour enough in the pot to lightly coat the pasta, about 12 ounces of cream for the 1.1 pound of croxetti.

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Julienne thin sliced of smoked salmon or lox, and add them to the cream. Heat through.

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Gently add the drained pasta discs to the cream and let sit, stirring once or twice as necessary to allow the cream sauce to coat the croxetti and get absorbed.

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Serve warm and sprinkle with capers, if desired.

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If you would prefer a thicker sauce, consider adding a little Marscapone or ricotta to the cream.
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Other options for this simple recipe would be to use butter instead of olive oil, and one could include clam juice with the cream for a fishier yet less rich sauce. Also, lemon zest would be a nice touch.

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If you happened to have fresh dill, a few leaves would be pretty on the pasta, but I only had dried dill leaves.

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The croxetti actually didn’t end up being as delicate as I assumed they would be. Of course I treated them gently as well. They were really fun to eat!

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Hot Smoked Salmon

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I own a Cameron’s stovetop smoker. I’ve used it for all kinds of proteins, but my favorite one to smoke is salmon. One evening recently I was having a girlfriend over for dinner, so smoking a salmon fillet was an easy choice. Besides, it was an excuse for me to have salmon, because my husband won’t eat it.

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The smoker does all the work so it’s really easy to do while your company is with you in the kitchen.

Sprinkle your choice of wood chips in the bottom of the smoker; I used maple chips today.


There’s no preparation necessary for the smoking process, other than to have a freshly rinsed filet of salmon, of uniform thickness, ideally. Mine was just over a pound. Then make sure it’s dry.

Place the salmon on the foil-wrapped pan and season. I simply used Old Bay seasoning because it works so well with fish.
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There is a rack that comes with the smoker, but since the skin was on the bottom side of the salmon, I didn’t bother using it. The rack allows the smoke to go underneath whatever is on it.

Close the lid, then turn on the heat underneath to medium. Once the smoke starts coming out, turn the heat down; you don’t want the salmon to cook too fast because you’re cooking it and smoking it. I smoked this particular filet for 25 minutes, over the lowest heat setting.

The photo below shows the salmon after 15 minutes.

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Once the smoking is over, slice and serve.
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I really like mine smoky, but you can adjust the amount of smoke intensity by how much of the wood chips you use. Cameron’s has a huge variety of chips that you can buy, so you always have a choice.
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As long as the heat is low, the protein won’t overcook. Hopefully from the photos you can tell that the salmon is tender and moist.
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Because it’s fall, I served the smoked salmon with Brussels sprouts drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt.


Hot-smoked salmon can be served any time of the year. With asparagus in the spring, with a green salad in summer, and in winter – with a mash, of course!
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Ricotta and Smoked Salmon

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Smoked salmon is one of my top favorite indulgences, along with steak tartare and foie gras.

I love smoked salmon served in the traditional manner, alongside cream cheese with a generous amount of capers and diced purple onions. Warm, toasted bagels are the best, but for me, just about any bread or toast will do, because it’s mostly about the salmon itself.

To serve smoked salmon this way, you need to have a trustworthy source, because there is smoked salmon that is inferior in quality. If I’m having a party or get-together of sorts and want to put out a traditional smoked salmon spread, I buy mine from a company called Mackenzie. I prefer their Scottish salmon.
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What bothers me the most about buying smoked salmon is that it is typically sold in 4 ounce packages. Who needs just 4 ounces of salmon? I most often need somewhere between 4 ounces and a whole 2 pound side of smoked salmon, but no one seems to care about my opinion.

Well speaking of little packages of smoked salmon, I happened to have a couple of them leftover from the holidays. They seem to keep forever if you freeze them. My plan is to dice the smoked salmon and use it in a spread, mixed with the fresh ricotta I made recently.

I’ve made many different kinds of spreads using smoked salmon – my most favorite is a warm dip that utilizes both cooked and smoked salmon. It’s absolutely divine. But today I’m just making a rustic spread that highlights the ricotta and the salmon.

This wasn’t the best smoked salmon in the first place, but I had to buy it locally for some purpose back in December, without time to place an online order. Thus my leftover 4 ounce packages.

But I tested it out and even after freezing and thawing, is tastes exactly the same as it did originally, which isn’t great, but it will do for this spread. You could also add some of this diced salmon in a quiche or pasta, but I’d never use this variety for bagels and lox presentation. It’s just doesn’t compare to the real stuff.

So here’s what I did to make this ricotta and smoked salmon spread. It’s more of a guide than a recipe, because it depends how much you want to make. The way I make it, without diced onions included, it will store in the refrigerator until you want to serve it again. I don’t personally feel that chopped onions keep well, but you could sprinkle the spread with freshly chopped onions or chives if you wish.

If you make this spread and have some left over, add it to hot, cooked pasta. Then there would be no waste!

Ricotta and Smoked Salmon Spread

Home-made ricotta or store-bought, at room temperature
Whipped cream cheese or regular, at room temperature
Smoked salmon, diced
Capers, well drained
Diced purple onion, optional
Chopped chives, optional

Place about equal amounts of the ricotta and whipped cream cheese in a medium bowl.
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Beat it together with a spoon until combined.

Dice the salmon and add it to the cheeses. I used this salmon.
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Then add the capers.

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Gently mix everything together until evenly distributed.

Then you have a choice. You could fill up a pretty crock or bowl with this mixture, or mold it in a bowl lined with plastic wrap for a prettier presentation (although I usually add a little butter to these mixtures so they mold better). In this case, I simply grabbed the whole mixture with my (clean) hands and formed a ball with it. I placed the ball on a wooden board.

Then I sprinkled chopped chives over the top.
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Today I served torn up pieces of naan with the spread.
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I also included a few garlic-stuffed olives for fun.

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I served a sauvignon blanc along with the spread and bread, nice and chilled.

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Any kind of bread or toasts, or even good crackers could be substituted for the naan.

An important thing to note is that this spread must be served at room temperature. If the spread needs to be refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature prior to serving. Flavors are just enhanced at room temperature, plus it makes the spread smoother for spreading on the bread.

note: This post is not a tutorial on smoked salmon. There are so many different varieties of hot- and cold-smoked salmon, and their resulting textures are very different. Then there’s lox and gravlax, which are also different. Just taste them all and figure out which ones suit different purposes, because they all have a place.

White Bean Mash

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A friend of mine gave me a lovely bag of cannellini beans for Christmas, one of many items in a gourmet gift basket, and I decided right after New Year’s to cook them up.

I did them in a rather basic way, with the common aromatics plus lots of parsley. No specific flavors happening – certainly nothing Mexican- or Southwestern-inspired.

But then I decided to process the cooked white beans into a mash for a prettier bean presentation. I was actually inspired by my own re-creation of a potato mash topped with salmon that I’d had in Edinborough, Scotland. I posted about it here. If you can mash potatoes, you can certainly mash cooked beans! It’s done all the time with black beans; it’s essentially what I do if I want refried black beans. There’s no frying involved, I simply use a food processor.

So why not mash white beans as well?

So here’s what I did with the cooked white beans. This would also work really well with canned beans, as long as they’re very well drained – I just wanted to use these wonderful cannellini beans from Italy.

1. Here are the cooked white beans. If I’d known I would end up “mashing” the beans, I wouldn’t have included the carrot dice; I would have preferred a whiter bean mash.

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2. Place the desired amount of white beans in the food processor.
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3. Process just a little; there should still be some whole beans.
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4. Scrape down the bowl of the food processor and process a little more with little pulses. You don’t want mushy baby food – there should still be some texture. This would also be a good time to taste the beans and make sure they’re well seasoned.
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5. Fill up one ring mold with the bean mash, and smooth the top.
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6. Slide the mash onto the plate, and remove the ring. Beautiful. But see how you can see the carrots? Mistake. Because the orangey color doesn’t contrast well enough to the smoked salmon. Just a personal color thing for me.

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7. Decorate the mash with strips of smoked salmon, and include a little chopped parsley for color.

8. Then drizzle the concoction with a little good olive oil, and some balsamic vinegar. I also added freshly ground black pepper.

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note: I should mention that the bean mash and the smoked salmon were at room temperature. The bean mash would also have been good with smoked salmon dice incorporated as well, but I don’t think it would have been as pretty.

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verdict: Smashing. My lunch was way better than my husband’s!

Smoked Salmon Potato Bake

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The real name of this dish is Laksloda. It is from the Time Life series of cookbooks Foods of the World. In 2013 I’ve been honoring various regions of the United States with recipes, and this one is from American Cooking: The Northwest.

Just from the name alone it’s easy to figure out that there is a significant Swedish contingency in the Pacific Northwest. (This is also the region from where Swedish Meatballs originate.) The traditional name caught my eye, but I fell in love with the recipe because it contains smoked salmon.

I can eat smoked salmon for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I prefer the lox variety, and if I’m forced to eat it with cream cheese, onions, and capers on bagels, I can do a pretty good job of it.

This recipe is very simple, although I would make a few changes, which I’ll mention below.

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Potato and Smoked-Salmon Casserole

1 tablespoon butter, softened, plus 4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 medium-sized boiling potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices

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4 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1/2 pound smoked salmon, sliced paper thin
1 1/2 cups light cream
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. With a pastry brush, spread the tablespoon of softened butter over the bottom and sides of a 1-quart baking-serving casserole. Spread about one third of the potato slices evenly on the bottom of the casserole,

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sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons of the onions, and lay half the salmon slices on top.

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Add another third of the potatoes, the remaining 2 tablespoons of onions and the rest of the salmon, and cover with the remaining potato slices.

Pour the cream down the sides of the casserole, then dribble the melted butter over the potatoes and sprinkle them with the allspice and a liberal grinding of pepper.

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Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are tender and show no resistance when pierced deeply with the point of a small skewer or sharp knife. Sprinkle the top with parsley and serve at once, directly from the casserole.

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Verdict: I followed the recipe exactly, but I needed to cook this casserole a bit longer. When I went to serve it, there was still about 1 cup of the 1/2 & 1/2 in the bottom of the dish, so I would the next time use only 1 cup, and use heavy cream instead. Although it was tasty, it was on the watery side. This dish would be fun with a little cheese, as well, and served at a brunch. I had it with a salad for lunch.

I also just realized I had not peeled my potatoes, but I don’t think that had any affect on the recipe.

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