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Scottish salmon rillette with caviar recipe

Scottish salmon rillette with caviar recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Starters
  • Seafood starters
  • Fish starters
  • Salmon starters

This dish is inspired by Singapore Airlines' new cookbook, Above and Beyond - which demonstrates to us humble cooks how to recreate Singapore Airlines' award winning food. This dish works very well as a dinner party starter - it is simple to make and aesthetically pleasing.

5 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 500g salmon fillet, skin on
  • 800g salt (plus a bit more for seasoning)
  • 400g caster sugar
  • duck fat as needed
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig coriander leaves, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • 100ml good quality mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 100g Sevruga caviar
  • 1 cup mixed salad leaves
  • 10 cherry tomatoes

MethodPrep:5min ›Cook:35min ›Extra time:3hr marinating › Ready in:3hr40min

  1. Cover salmon with salt and sugar and set aside for 3 hours.
  2. Rinse salmon under running water and pat dry. Preheat oven to 60 C (140F).
  3. Place salmon in a deep pan and cover with duck fat. Cover pan with aluminium foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes until salmon is very pale pink in colour.
  4. Remove pan from the oven and leave salmon to sit in the fat for 5 minutes. Drain salmon and flake.
  5. Mix flaked salmon with 2-3 tablespoon duck fat, then season with salt and pepper. Add coriander, creme fraiche, mayonnaise and lemon juice and mix well.
  6. Spoon a quarter of salmon mixture into a ring cutter and press to compact it. Remove ring cutter. Repeat to make another three servings. Garnish with a dollop of caviar, mixed salad leaves and cherry tomatoes.

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RILLETTES (pronounced ree-yet) are a delicious French peasant expedient, a simple, time-honored method of potting pork, duck or goose to preserve it. But lately chefs have been taking astonishing liberties with this classic dish that resembles a pate, lightening it and even preparing it with seafood. The creative impulse that has given us seafood pot-au-feu and crayfish minestrone is also being applied to rillettes. They are no longer strictly rich winter fare and could even begin a warm-weather meal.

Traditionally, to prepare rillettes, the meat is slowly simmered in wine or a court-bouillon with ample fat until it is ready to fall apart and the cooking liquid has evaporated, leaving clear, melted fat. The meat is pounded in a mortar or shredded and cooled in the fat. By stirring it from time to time, the cook produces a homogeneously smooth paste. It should be rich and satiny once cooled, with the shredded meat giving it a slightly grainy texture.

A specialty of the cities of Tours and Le Mans in the Loire region, rillettes are a simple yet sumptuous addition to a platter of charcuterie, excellent spread on crusty French bread. The crisp, herbaceous white wines of the region, including Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, or the light, clean reds such as Chinon, beautifully complement rillettes. The name of the dish derives from the Old French rille, meaning leftovers, which is how the word was used in the tales of Pantagruel by Rabelais, born near Chinon in the Loire region. (Rillons and rillauds are two variations on the word.) But leftovers are not a part of the new rillettes. As Seppi Renggli, the executive chef at the Four Seasons, explained: ''Times have changed. We no longer do it to preserve the food in fat as in the old days.''

Mr. Renggli makes rillettes with fresh and smoked salmon plus salmon caviar. ''It's better than a salmon mousse because it has a more interesting texture,'' he said. ''It would work with mackerel and eel, too.''

In addition to fish and the more traditional pork, goose and duck, Mr. Renggli has made rillettes with rabbit and experimented with turkey, discovering that ''if you make it with turkey breast, you need some pork in there, too.''

Christian Leveque, the chef at La Recolte, added rillettes of skate to his recent spring menu. ''The texture of skate is perfect for this,'' he said, ''very close to duck when you shred it.'' The dish was made of skate imported from Europe, because Mr. Leveque found the fish caught in American waters to be tough. The chef lightly poached fish, finely shredded it and mixed it with a stiff mayonnaise lightened with yogurt. The rillettes were served with horseradish sauce.

Not only can fresh poached fish be mashed to a paste and seasoned to create a type of rillettes, but a delicious version can be made quickly with rich smoked bluefish, smoked trout, smoked eel or peppered smoked mackerel.

Only a few restaurants in New York City regularly serve the traditional rillettes unlike the charcuteries all over France, the takeout shops here rarely have them on hand. Some catering shops can make them to order.

Marche St. Pierre, 238 East 24th Street, has excellent duck rillettes for $4.50 a half pound and pork rillettes, $3.50 a half pound. Plums, 77 West 45th Street, makes richly flavored rillettes from duck, pheasant or rabbit, all combined with pork, at $12 a pound.

Commendable duck rillettes are frequently on the menu at the Cafe du Parc, 106 East 19th Street. Pierre Flori, the owner, whose recipe follows, says he is trying to make them less fatty.

''That's the way the current taste is,'' he said, noting, however, that ''you can't make rillettes without fat.''

In small quantities, with an aperitif and good bread, this relatively unfamiliar French specialty is a delectable indulgence, even if it means an extra jog around the reservoir.

As an alternative, prepare a contemporary interpretation with fish. Seppi Renggli's Salmon Rillettes #6 ounces fresh salmon fillet #1 cup dry white wine, approximately #6 ounces sweet butter #6 ounces smoked salmon, finely diced Few drops of lemon juice Freshly ground black pepper #2 tablespoons salmon caviar. 1.

* Place the salmon in a saucepan or skillet, add white wine just to cover the fish, and bring to a simmer. Poach gently 8 to 10 minutes, until just cooked. Drain salmon and allow to cool. 2.

* Break salmon into pieces, being careful to pick out any bits of bone that may remain. Dice the butter, and process the salmon and butter together in a food processor or mash finely by hand until just uniformly blended. Add smoked salmon, and process or mash by hand briefly to combine. 3.

* Season mixture with lemon juice and pepper. Chill until ready to serve. Serve topped with salmon caviar. Yield: 6 to 8 servings. Cafe du Parc Duck Rillettes #1 duck, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds #1 pound fresh pork butt, well streaked with fat #2 1/2 cups dry white wine #1 1/2 teaspoons salt #1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper #2 bay leaves #3 to 4 sage leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage) 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. 1.

* Bone the duck, and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes, including skin and fat. Cut the pork butt into 1/2-inch cubes. 2.

* Combine the wine and salt in a heavy saucepan. Add the duck and pork pieces, bring to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes, skimming frequently. When scum no longer gathers on the surface of the cooking liquid, add the remaining ingredients, cover, and allow to simmer very slowly for about 2 hours, until the meats are very soft and tender. 3.

* Uncover the pan, and continue to simmer another 30 to 40 minutes until the wine has evaporated and only meat and fat remain in the pan. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. The fat should be clear and the meat lightly golden and very tender. Test the meat by removing a piece, allowing it to cool slightly and squeezing it between your fingers. It should literally fall apart. 4.

* Allow the mixture to cool until tepid. Discard the bay leaves. 5.

* Using a wooden spoon or fork, mash and stir the meats until they are uniformly shredded. Taste the mixture, and correct the seasoning. 6.

* Reheat the mixture to a boil, stirring. Set aside to cool, stirring from time to time to incorporate the fat and meat. Before the mixture has completely cooled, transfer it to one or more earthenware crocks. Refrigerate two to three days before serving. 7.

* The rillettes will keep four or five days. To keep the dish longer, up to about three weeks, melt a layer of pure pork fat (fatback) or lard to cover and seal the surface of the rillettes completely. Keep refrigerated. Yield: about 3 cups. Smoked Bluefish Spread #1 1/2 cups smoked bluefish (about 1 pound) 1/2 cup sour cream #1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/4 cup very finely minced scallions Freshly ground black pepper. 1.

* Remove the skin from the bluefish, and mash the fish in a bowl until it is uniformly textured. 2.

* Work in the sour cream, lemon juice and scallions to make a smooth paste. Season to taste with black pepper. 3.

* Mold the spread into a dome or a loaf shape on a serving dish, or pack it into a crock. Serve as a cocktail spread with bread, toast or crackers.

Salmon rillettes

It’s the old parlor game: “If you could eat dinner with anyone you wanted, whom would it be?” That may be fun for some, but for those who love to cook, wouldn’t a more kitchen-centric twist be even better? Wouldn’t you rather fantasize about whom you would like to get to help you fix that meal?

Particularly at Thanksgiving, the most food-centered of American holidays, who doesn’t dream about having a great cook drop by to lend a hand?

Even the greatest chefs are not all created equal. Each excels at a slightly different aspect of cooking. So, with a menu as diverse as Thanksgiving’s, what you really want is an entire collection of great chefs -- a kind of Turkey Day Dream Team.

The trick is in identifying the talent and then matching it up with a specific course. For example, who knows more about cooking poultry than Judy Rodgers, who built San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe largely on the basis of a wonderful roast chicken? On the other hand, for a bit of sheer luxury who better to turn to than Daniel Boulud, chef at Manhattan’s four-star Daniel?

Michel Richard, chef at Washington, D.C.'s Citronelle, is a genius at putting a creative twist on familiar flavors, so he can do the vegetables -- no boring old steamed broccoli from him. The list goes on: The French Laundry’s Thomas Keller has built a career on elegant small bites to start the meal he’ll do appetizers. Lydia Shire, chef at Boston’s Excelsior, will take charge of the cranberries -- after all, they’re grown in her backyard. And for a glamorous, over-the-top dessert, there’s only one choice: Spago pastry chef Sherry Yard.

The only question now is: Whom would we choose to clean up?

Anyone who has eaten at the French Laundry or Per Se knows that Thomas Keller is fascinated by appetizers. Dinner at either of those restaurants begins with a parade of them (indeed, given the size of Keller’s portions, it could be argued that they make up the entire meal).

Thanksgiving is no different. From the earliest holidays he can remember, dinner started with little bites. Of course, back then the menu was slightly different than today.

“Ants on a log,” he remembers. “That’s one I remember: Take celery sticks and mix up some cottage cheese with salt and pepper and parsley or chives and put it in the center. Sprinkle raisins on top. That’s ants on a log. My mom fixed it every Thanksgiving.”

They’d be accompanied by a hit parade of ‘60s favorites: “Always a crudite plate with radishes, cauliflower, broccoli and green goddess dip, or her favorite, which was onion dip. Oh, and stuffed mushrooms, the kind with bread crumbs on top that you’d put under the broiler. And canned artichoke hearts.”

Today, appetizers are still an important part of the meal, though they’re a bit more refined: marinated olives and jumbo macadamia nuts and a big tin of caviar and some smoked salmon. And different kinds of spreads spooned onto toasts or crackers. “But we’re so sophisticated now,” Keller quips, “we use Carr’s water crackers. We always had Ritz when I was growing up.”

Despite the menus’ obvious differences, they share the same idea. The point of an appetizer should be not only to pique the appetite, but to set the meal in motion by getting people involved with eating. “It’s about interaction with the food,” Keller says.

A good example is the shrimp with avocado salsa, each piece set on its own fork. It’s not fussy, but fun. “I love serving things that people can eat with their fingers,” he says. The shrimp, which he uses as a passed appetizer at parties in the French Laundry’s garden, has a sophisticated presentation, but it couldn’t be easier to put together.

The salmon rillettes, a favorite first course at Keller’s Bouchon bistros, in Napa Valley and Las Vegas, is nearly rustic in its preparation and simple in its presentation (well, at least for Keller). The surprising, almost herbal, flavor undertones and a combination of coarse and creamy textures come from mixing finely diced smoked salmon and silky chunks of the steamed fish (and, of course, a satisfying amount of butter). It can be made ahead and will even improve for several days, ripened in the refrigerator, sealed under a cap of . what else? More butter.

Divide the appetizers into smaller portions and position them at different points in the dining room, and you’ll encourage mingling, getting the guests to interact with one another while they interact with their food. As Keller says, “Thanksgiving is about getting together with family and people you love and having a wonderful time.”

If you should happen to run into Judy Rodgers driving around Berkeley on Thanksgiving Day, don’t be surprised at the large bundle in her lap. It’s her turkey. Rodgers and her husband celebrate the holiday every year with her sister-in-law across town, and even on this rare day off from the restaurant, the consummate roaster can’t bring herself to give up the reins. “I know my oven and I don’t know hers,” Rodgers says. So she roasts the turkey in advance. Then she lays bath towels in her lap and cradles the cooked bird in its roasting pan for the drive over.

As you might expect, Rodgers has definite ideas about what makes a great bird.

In the first place, gender matters. “I like toms, not those big fat-breasted hens,” she says. “They have better flavor, and they cook more evenly. You don’t have those big Hoover Dam-sized breasts that you need to cook while everything else is getting completely overcooked.”

Rodgers is an advocate of salting meat well in advance and letting it sit to season through. Because a turkey is so large, that method won’t work, so she uses a brine. This means she can’t stuff it or make gravy they would come out too salty. But the absence of gravy doesn’t bother her -- she says her turkey turns out so moist it doesn’t need any.

Never a big fan of stuffing, Rodgers instead makes a version of the same bread salad she serves with her famous roast chicken. “Doing it this way, you get such a mixture of textures and flavors,” she says. “There’s some crisp and some soft. And I really like the combination of dried cranberries and pecans.”

According to Rodgers, two of the most important steps in roasting a turkey are often overlooked. The first is what she calls “tempering” the bird: letting it sit at room temperature after taking it out of the refrigerator and before roasting it. This lets it cook evenly -- otherwise, the deep joints where the thighs join the carcass will hold the chill longer and may still be bloody even when the breast is nearing dryness.

The other is letting the turkey rest at room temperature after the roasting. This allows the muscle fibers to reabsorb some of the moisture that has been squeezed toward the center during the cooking. It is the key to both a moist bird and one that has flesh firm enough to carve easily.

And it fits easily into the Thanksgiving schedule, even one like hers that requires travel. “Actually, I’ve found that the trip from our house to my sister’s is just about the perfect resting time,” Rodgers says. “It’s about a 20-minute drive and by the time everything gets loaded and unloaded, the turkey is perfect.”

Daniel Boulud has nothing against turkey. The chef at New York’s Daniel (and several other restaurants) just thinks it lacks a little, you might say, luxury. Not in the sense of fancy ingredients, but in the old-fashioned way. In other words, “something very silky, buttery, tasty like that,” he says. “Something to keep the moisture around it.”

This doesn’t mean serving the bird with foie gras. Perfectly humble ingredients work much better. One of Boulud’s favorites is a sweet potato-winter squash puree. Caramelized apples and bananas give it silkiness when it’s put through the food processor, and cinnamon, cloves, allspice, fennel seed and star anise spice it up. “This is one way of getting a complexity of flavor, combining things that go well with turkey in a way that you can’t do unless you puree them,” he says.

Mushrooms can also supply that luxurious quality. “What kind of mushroom might vary, but it’s always some kind of fricassee,” says Boulud. “Good wild mushrooms, butter and olive oil, a little rosemary and garlic. I always add a little bit of toasted bread crumbs or maybe just a little bit of flour to dry them out a little bit and to absorb the juices.”

Even better, you can layer them into a potato gratin and bake them slowly, liberally bathed in cream. This way all of the disparate elements unite and form a harmonic “third flavor.” This gratin tastes almost as if someone slipped in some black truffles. There aren’t any, but you could certainly use them if you happen to have some lying around.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with that kind of luxury, either.

When Lydia Shire was growing up in Brookline, Mass., the highlight of the cooking year was Thanksgiving. Today she’s chef at Boston’s Excelsior and Locke-Ober restaurants, but back then she was her father’s kitchen helper. “From the time I was little I was always helping him cook,” she says. “I couldn’t stay out of the kitchen.”

Shire’s father died when she was 15, but she still makes the cranberry jelly that he’d adapted from a recipe in an old Fannie Farmer cookbook. This is cranberry jelly as God intended it to be and to taste it is to realize how far all those others have fallen (even if they do look cute right out of the can). It sets with a deceptively delicate jiggle that gives no hint to its deep flavor or its warm clove-and-cinnamon spice, one of those dishes that is almost impossible to stop eating.

It’s incredibly easy to make too -- you just boil cranberries with a packet of sweet spices until the berries soften and thicken and then strain the mixture, add sugar and cook it briefly again.

Even today, Shire says, “I have to have that flavor. I can’t go through that day without having certain flavors in my mouth because it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving.” And helping out in the kitchen will be Shire’s 14 1/2 -year-old son, Alex. “He’s going to be a cook, you know,” Shire says. “I’m absolutely sure of it.”

At his 55th birthday party last year, cooked by such chefs as Keller and Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert (and attended by others, including Boulud and Pierre Gagnaire), Michel Richard, whose jolly demeanor masks a deeply competitive nature, blew everyone away with a postmodern rendition of ratatouille: each vegetable reduced to its flavor essence, set into a firm but soft jelly and presented in a sculptural mix of cubes the size of playing dice.

Richard, chef at Citronelle in Washington, D.C., is one of the country’s most creative and playful chefs, even when it comes to the Thanksgiving vegetable course -- something usually tacked on as an afterthought.

Thanksgiving, as it turns out, is Richard’s favorite holiday. It’s the most French after all -- centered around the table, he explains. “Thanksgiving I love,” he says, “because I don’t have to worry about buying gifts I don’t need to go to Mass I don’t need to do anything but sit down at the table at 4 o’clock with my family and my friends and eat good food, drink good wine and then go outside and drink Armagnac and smoke cigars.”

While the deconstructed ratatouille may be a bit extreme for a family dinner, Richard did come up with two winners. In his stuffed Savoy cabbage, the whole leaves -- pale green and silken after long, gentle cooking -- are wrapped around duxelles, sauteed chopped mushrooms given an extra layer of nutty complexity by a hint of curry powder.

And it would be almost impossible not to love the very Franco-American combination of long-cooked earthy Southern collard greens and the meaty green lentils from Le Puy, France. The way these seemingly unrelated ingredients play off each other is astonishing (and delicious).

For his Thanksgiving at home, Richard’s turkey will be a simple roast bird, albeit with a French twist: a stuffing made with chestnuts and boudin blanc. “My wife used to accept a very thick French accent, but now it’s only a little French accent,” he says. “My family likes a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but there is still a mixture of the two countries.”

Sherry Yard’s Thanksgivings growing up in Brooklyn sound a little like “I Love Lucy.” First of all, her mother didn’t cook. Her dad did, but he had unconventional notions of what to serve. For Thanksgiving, she remembers, “he’d set up a gas barbecue out in the backyard and go out in the cold and do steaks or kielbasa sausage, anything but turkey.”

Then there was the famous episode with the creamed corn. “My mother never opened the cans and emptied them into a pot she just put them on a baking sheet and stuck it in the oven,” she says. One Thanksgiving, disaster struck: “The oven blew up and we had creamed corn everywhere. It’s just lucky nobody got hit by the can.”

So it’s no surprise that Yard’s notions of a perfect Thanksgiving dessert are out of the ordinary. If she could have it her way, she’d eat chocolate cream pie, or cookies. She does love pumpkin, but, of course, has very definite opinions about how it should be treated. “A lot of Thanksgiving food tends to be a little bit on the sweet side already, so I don’t like to make anything too sweet,” she says. “And I like to use brown sugar, or honey, because they don’t have the same monotone sweetness that sugar does.”

In fact, her pumpkin dessert is a showstopper, kind of a pumpkin pie topped with a surprise. But it’s not really a pie it’s a layered torte, built in a springform pan on top of a pastry crust. Pumpkin custard comes next, then a layer of whipped cream enriched with creme fraiche and flavored maple sugar, and for the crowning glory, a caramely pumpkin chiboust -- like a cold souffle. The chiboust, which has a slightly bitter note on its own, sets off the sweet pumpkin custard beautifully.

It may be a bit of a project, but actually it’s not as complicated as it seems (you can even make it a day or two ahead, when things are a little calmer). And the results are well worth the effort.

After all, this is Thanksgiving, and if you can’t fantasize about a dreamy dessert now, when can you?

Our Favorite Salmon Dishes

C hinook, coho, sockeye, pink, and Atlantic. These are just five of the most well-known types of salmon found in the seafood section of your grocery store. This fish&aposs popularity can be attributed to its health benefits: It&aposs got high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and B6, and calcium, as well as relatively low amounts of mercury. Salmon is also a versatile fish—you can grill, fry, poach, bake, roast, or sauté it. Its mild flavor lets other ingredients shine, and if you want the fish itself to shine, all it needs is some olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh lemon juice. As with all fish, one telltale sign of freshness is its odor if it lacks a fishy smell, it&aposs fresh. And if you&aposre looking for inexpensive caviar, try salmon roe. The egg&aposs large, bright red-orange hue adds pizzazz to a dish.

Watch how to bone and poach a fish with our technique videos.

If you plan on smoking your own salmon fillets—steaks, while not impossible, will take much longer and may not cook as evenly𠅊nd are purchasing the wood planks from a housewares store, make sure that the planks are not chemically treated. Let the planks soak in water for at least one hour before placing the plank and the fish on your heat source. Besides cedar planks, try other hard woods, such as apple or alder, for a different flavor.

Lox, nova salmon, gravlax, kippered. It can get a little confusing with all the different types of cured salmon. Here&aposs a quick tutorial. Kippered means the salmon has been brined and then baked. Lox is salmon that&aposs been brined but not smoked. Nova used to refer specifically to the Nova Scotia Atlantic salmon, which was brined and cold-smoked. Nowadays it is used as a more general term for any cured salmon. Scottish- and Irish-smoked fish are dry-cured before being cold-smoked. Gravlax is salmon that&aposs been dry-cured with no smoking.

Seafood starter recipes

A seafood starter is a always a popular choice when catering for pescatarians or meat eaters - and for good reason. The dizzying array of fish and shellfish on offer - from meaty monkfish to elegant scallops and vibrant prawns - brings with it an incredibly varied collection of seafood recipes, meaning whether you’re looking for a delicate summer starter or something rich and comforting to begin a warming winter meal there is bound to be plenty of inspiration to be had in this collection.

Scallops are a popular choice to start a dinner party as they not only look and taste beautiful, but carry connotations of luxury to make your guests feel special. Chris Horridge's Scallop recipe, which fuses the sweetness of peas with a surprising piquant hit from cumin, is bound to impress, or try Marcello Tully’s classic French Scallop mousse for a rich seafood starter.

Salads are a perfect option for lighter seafood starters to make sure people have enough space to consume their entrée. Present a zingy Crab salad to impress your guests with Andy Waters' recipe, perfect for warmer months, or go retro with Chris Horridge’s take on the classic Prawn cocktail. Ceviche, a cured fish dish originating in South America, makes a wonderful light, healthy starter - try Martin Wishart’s signature Halibut ceviche recipe which pairs the fish with mango and passion fruit.

Recipes you might like

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Made these for a Christmas party. A very labor intensive appetizer, not to mention expensive, and too much waste (after discarding the crusts, cutting the salmon to fit, and trimming the pieces). I used an exceptional quality smoked salmon and roe, and added dill and extra lemon zest to the cream cheese. The flavors were good but not "wow". Also, the pieces become condensed with all the layering and do not look nearly as luscious as the photo. For all the work and expense, I would not make these again.

I made these yesterday for cocktail bites before Christmas dinner. Followed the recipe exactly and, quite frankly, I do not see how it could be improved upon. My only complaint is that 1/2 lb. of the smoked salmon I bought was not enough for the number of slices of bread measured exactly as instructed. I am sure the brand of salmon varies as to number of slices so I would advise having an additional package on hand if it is important to produce the number of pieces indicated in the recipe. In my case, we had exactly the right number of pieces. Everyone loved it and, of course, it looks very festive.

Really great, tasty, great presentation and everyone loved it. Will make it again next Christmas.

Made this for Xmas eve. Most loved it, though I though there was too much cream cheese on the salmon. I wish there are a way to make cream cheese mixture a bit thinner and lighter.

Made this for a gathering last night. I increased the amount of cream cheese as someone had suggested, I would do that again. Easy to make and impressive although expensive.

For the person looking for a different bread choice, try a rye, if that doesn't work, try a German dark break that is a little sweeter. I made this for a shower, used round cookie cutters-no roe, dill to garnish-it was lovely. ChefGrammie--I'm the real deal!

We made this as an appetizer for Christmas dinner a few years ago and it was absolutely delicious!! It wrapped and kept well and was a lovely snack for the next morning as well.

A real hit! For added taste, I make the cream cheese mixture in advance and chill overnight. I double the lemon zest, lemon juice, salmon roe and use lots of scallion greens in place of chives. After layering the bread slices, I put them in the fridge for a while which makes cutting off the crusts smoother. Last step before serving is to top with the roe.

These were very well received, although I did make a few changes. I added a little fresh rosemary and some dill to the creamcheese. I finally had to give up on salmon roe, so bought the black caviar and added a small dab on top. Looked and tasted fine. Next time I make these however, I think I will just make two layers of creamcheese and one of salmon.

For variety I used a bread made of rice and chickpea flours with excellent results, as well as the pumpernickel. Any dense bread that can stand up to the soft layers of salmon and cream cheese should work. Several of my guests asked for the recipe.

I was just wondering if anyone could recommend another type of bread that might go well in this recipe as I don't like pumpernickel bread?

I made these for a recent party and they got rave reviews. Many folks asked for the recipe. I didn't get a chance to trim the sandwiches to perfection but it didn't matter. We also made half of them without roe for guests who don't eat it. The cream cheese mixture turned out well but it could have used a little more taste. Not sure what else to add, maybe more lemon. I will definitely make these again - they are a great dish for a party.

I agree with one of the other reviewers that this takes a little more cream cheese mixture than it suggests. I also used Tobiko, which is milder and better. It actually takes a fair amount of time to assemble this dish, so be prepared if you are thinking of it for a quick party appetizer!

I brought this appetizer to our friends' home for Christmas dinner . It was a big hit! I used Wasabi Tobikko (flying fish roe) - the roe "pops" in your mouth, unleashing the wasabi flavor to complement the salmon. I used alder smoked Alaskan salmon - very red and rich. A very simple and delicious appetizer.

Very Good - Christmas Eve 2006. To make them even more festive I topped the salmon roe with a touch of wasabi roe I found at Trader Joe's. Another great make ahead hors d'oeuvers. Seemed to take more cream cheese mixture than indicated.

Very Good - Christmas Eve 2006. To make them even more festive I topped the salmon roe with a touch of wasabi roe I found at Trader Joe's. Another great make ahead hors d'oeuvers.

This method works well with other fish. Substitute salmon or fresh trout for the char if you like.

Hot-smoked salmon, unlike cured, is fully cooked.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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Crispy polenta is a delicious (and naturally gluten-free) alternative to toasts for your appetizer spread.

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Smoked salmon tramezzini

Aside from the price and the cachet, Champagne is one of life’s simplest pleasures -- just lifting a glass is a mood-altering experience. But it brings out the Gaudi in hosts. Who doesn’t want to take a great thing and make it more decadent by serving it with foie gras and caviar and other blessed excess?

And there’s one little problem with that. As anyone who has ever tried to juggle a full flute and a warm blini with beluga knows, something has to give, and it’s usually the glass. You have to set it down to tackle a terrine or slurp an oyster. And when you do, you lose the immediate connection and contrast between the sparkle in the wine and the richness of the food.

Champagne goes much better with hors d’oeuvres you can just pick up and carry. It’s no wonder gougeres are the classic accompaniment in France. The warm cheese melds with the effervescence of the chilled wine in one perfect mouthful.

Actually, Champagne is the most food-friendly wine you can buy. The bubbles catch just about any flavor and ferry it across your palate in surprising harmony. You don’t have to spring for ounces of caviar or pounds of shrimp for a party. You can get creative with much less.

Even Champagne’s less-exalted cousins, Prosecco and cava, are proof of the partnering potential of wine when it sparkles. I’ve had everything from little tea sandwiches to potato chips with Prosecco in sidewalk cafes in Italy and everything from salty almonds to spicy chorizo with cava in Spain. Always, the wine doubles the pleasure of the food.

Those memories and some recent “research” -- a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and a bagful of meats, cheese and condiments -- made it easy to come up with an array of hors d’oeuvres for Champagne, a little movable feast to be eaten with one hand while the other clutches a glass. It’s simple food with complex flavors.

Nuts are obviously a natural, since Champagne plays well with both salty and crunchy. Any nuts will do, whether roasted pecans with a little cayenne or just salted pistachios straight out of the shell, but almonds seem the most elegant. I like Elizabeth David’s technique for them, described in her book “Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen.”

The almonds are tossed in a little sweet almond oil (or butter) with seasonings, then slowly roasted until each one is crisp to the core, which is a pretty classic treatment for any nut. But her secret is to immediately transfer the almonds from the oven to a brown paper bag, then let them sit for an hour or two. The sealed bag soaks up any excess oil while the nuts are subtly infused with the flavorings. She used only cayenne as a spice, but I add crushed rosemary and also salt the nuts before and after toasting to intensify the taste.

Smoked salmon is another can’t-miss companion for Champagne. Like caviar, it combines the saline essence of the sea with an unctuous quality that the bubbles amplify and then cut through. You can buy little smoked salmon roulades with cream cheese that are perfectly presentable, but I prefer the Italian treatment called tramezzini. These are the tiny sandwiches served with Prosecco in sidewalk cafes everywhere in a country that believes wine was meant to be drunk with food. Sometimes they’re filled with cured meats, but most often I’ve had them with smoked salmon.

Tramezzini are like old-fashioned canapes but much classier, cut into fingers or triangles so you get just a bite between sips. The usual Italian combination layers thinly sliced cucumbers and mayonnaise between the skinny slices of soft bread, but watercress and creme fraiche have a sprightlier look and taste.

Because the sandwich is literally white bread, you need the best salmon you can buy, sliced not too thin. Wild salmon from Alaska is sensational smoked. All it needs is a squeeze of lemon and a couple of grinds of white pepper.

Two flavors are better than one

Two other Italian classics -- prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano -- go especially well with Champagne, but not all on their lonesome. Prosciutto is hard to eat, even wrapped around out-of-season asparagus as you see it so often at holiday parties. And the cheese may taste great with Champagne if you serve it in little chunks the way they do in Italy, but it seems a bit inelegant.

Blend the two together with a little soft butter to bind them, though, and you get a great topping for crostini, to be garnished with toasted pine nuts and chopped fresh basil for color and crunch.

Duck rillettes are another classic partner for Champagne, but they’re a pain to make well from scratch, and the store-bought kind always seem as if they’re missing something. Duck confit, however, is one of the great convenience foods, and when you blend it into a spread with a little butter it’s almost better than rillettes. Topping each toast with mango chutney and creme fraiche takes the duck to another level: You get bursts of creaminess and tanginess in every bite.

Spanish chorizo, simply cut into thin slices as it often is, doesn’t quite seem dressed well enough for a party. Instead I combine it with corn and Cheddar cheese to make little cocktail madeleines, baked in the traditional tins used for the sweet kind. The outside turns crunchy while the center stays rich and soft.

Once you get started with Champagne, you can see how food loves the stuff as much as humans do. Wild mushrooms go well with it. So do smoked scallops or trout, raw oysters and crab cakes. High-fat creamy cheeses do, and so do some sharper ones, like mimolette. A Texas friend even swears you can serve Champagne with bits of barbecued pork loin with a heavy-on-the-chiles sauce.

As for the Champagne, brut is my preference because I have low tolerance for fruity wines. But even the sweeter sparklers team up well with most foods. Chiles and chutneys, in fact, go better with slightly sweet Champagne, just the way Gewurztraminers take to curry and enchiladas. The important thing is just to drink it easy.