You might have wanted something like this for Thanksgiving but I figured you’d be stuffed enough.
Because I feel slightly embarrassed at how easy it is to make the smoked salmon pate and in response to a request from a friend, I’m also posting a recipe for Tapenade – another delicious appetizer.
Aside from the actual ingredients, both recipes only require food processor operating skills and with Party Season looming they’re good to have in your repertoire. Whereas the recipe for smoked salmon pate won’t stretch a modest amount of fish to exactly biblical proportions, it will serve more people than you think and tastes luxurious (I’m always thinking of ways to impress for less).
You should make this at least 4 hours and up to 2 days ahead and it will keep well in the fridge for a week and a bit.
Notes at the end, followed by the recipe for Tapenade:
SMOKED SALMON PATE
8 oz smoked salmon
8 oz Neufchatel cream cheese (30% less fat than the usual) at room temp
Fresh lemon juice to taste
Freshly milled black pepper
In a processor, blend smoked salmon and cream cheese. Add lemon juice and black pepper to taste.
Scrape into a serving dish (or individual ramekins as a dinner party first course) and ideally, decorate with a thin slice of lemon and perhaps some black or red caviar-style roe. If like me you forgot to save any lemon for decoration, use whatever looks OK such as parsley, chopped red onion or an olive.
Serve with toast triangles; cocktail sized pumpernickel, pita chips – whatever you prefer but not corn chips.
Obviously, you can use any quantity of smoked salmon and cream cheese as long as they’re of equal weight. Just adjust the amount of lemon juice and black pepper accordingly; blend and taste until you’re happy with it.
Good old Costco; their smoked salmon is amazing value even the wild variety which I prefer as it hasn’t been tampered with color-wise, or fed on something unnatural. You might as well buy a bag of lemons as well while you’re at it and they also sell whole black peppercorns at an incredible price.
(As an aside; please don’t use ready-ground black pepper – all the aromatic oils evaporated long ago so it bears zero resemblance to the real thing).
Now for the TAPENADE; this is so versatile and has a wonderfully robust Mediterranean flavor. I like it spread on crisp little crostinis that you make by brushing olive oil onto both sides of ¼ inch thick slices from a good baguette and toasting under the broiler until golden, turning once. These keep well in an airtight container for a week or so.
It can also be used to stuff Belgian endive leaves (that’s chickory to those over the pond), baby tomatoes or hard boiled eggs; tossed with pasta for a pasta salad; spread on top of grilled salmon etc., or blended with a little good quality mayonnaise to make it more unctuous; perfect as a dip for crudités such as celery or radishes.
Sorry; there’s no Tapenade picture. Take my word for it; it’s good looking in a dark and handsome Mediterranean way.
(Makes 1 ½ cups without mayonnaise – 2 cups-ish, with)
½ cup of pitted kalamata olives or similar; drained
¼ cup of red-pepper stuffed green olives (i.e. martini olives); drained
4 anchovy fillets; rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons of capers; rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 oz of canned tuna in oil, drained
1 packed cup of Italian flat leaf parsley, rinsed and patted dry
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of cognac (any brandy will do and I’ve used Calvados as well)
Grind of black pepper
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
Optional: ¼ cup of good quality mayonnaise if using as a dip for crudités or crackers
Place everything up to but excluding the olive oil in a food processor and blend until finely minced. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream until well blended.
Adjust seasoning to taste (it’s unlikely you’ll need salt) including lemon juice and cognac if necessary.
Scrape into a bowl. Add the mayo at this point if you’re using as a dip – chill.
Pitted kalamata olives, martini olives, capers and good olive oil are all available at Costco. Who’d have thought it? World Market is another good inexpensive source.
Affordable cognac etc. is available in or next door to your neighborhood Costco at wholesale prices but only in full sized bottles. If you have the good stuff, use it but you don’t need to buy a bottle of Remy Martin to make this. One of those little things you stole from a hotel mini bar will do.