PRUE LEITH’S SMOKED SALMON AND BEETROOT BLINIS

This recipe was chosen by Prue as a technical challenge for the Great British Baking Show last year. Of course, small details in the preparation are not shared with the contestants, but the online recipe tells you pretty much all you need to know to make them without stress in the comfort of your kitchen.

SMOKED SALMON AND BEETROOT BLINIS
(slightly adapted from Prue Leith’s recipe)

For the blinis:
170g all purpose-flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 large egg, separated
1 tbsp olive oil
220ml whole milk

For the topping:
100g cooked beetroot
1 tsp hot prepared horseradish
pinch of crushed sea salt
125g cream cheese
smoked salmon, flaked
¼ lemon

Make the blinis. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add the egg yolk and the olive oil and whisk, drawing in the flour. Slowly add the milk, whisking to a smooth batter.

In a separate bowl, using a hand-held electric blender, whisk the egg white to stiff peaks, then gently fold them into the batter.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, spoon 1 tablespoon of the batter into the pan and cook for 1–2 minutes, until the edges are set and the mixture is bubbling. Turn the blini over and cook until golden brown on the other side, then place on a wire rack to cool. Cook in batches using the remaining batter until you have 12 blinis. Set aside to cool.

For the topping, place the beetroot, horseradish cream, salt and 50g of the cream cheese in the bowl of mini food processor and blitz until smooth. Spoon the beetroot mixture into a clean bowl and fold in the remaining 75g of cream cheese, until evenly combined, thick and smooth. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium piping tip.

Pipe a swirl of beetroot mixture onto each blini, then top with flakes of the hot smoked salmon. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top, then garnish with fresh dill.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These were very delicious!  I made them as an appetizer for our Valentine’s dinner but as you know, I can be pretty slow to blog on stuff, so you only got to see them as July is coming to an end. Such is life.

The main issue the contestants had with the recipe was cooking the blinis. Many added oil to the pan, and that’s a mistake. Even if it seems like it cooking them on a dry pan will end in tragedy,  that’s how you get the right searing, proper texture and no excess oil as you bite into them. They are delicate, soft, and I find the addition of beets to the cream a real touch of class. Cannot beat that color. Or…should I say cannot “beet” that color?  (ouch!)

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CREAM CHEESE MINI-PANCAKES WITH SMOKED SALMON

Remember our Nobel Reception that happened a few months ago? I still have a few items from that event to share with you, as cooking goes by at a fast pace in the Bewitching Kitchen, but blogging takes a little longer. Good thing my readers seem to be quite patient…  Lucky blogger, yes I am.  These mini-pancakes were a big hit at the party. I’d say of all the things I prepared, they were the most involved, but quite a fun project to tackle.  I found the recipe during a session of Pinterest hopping on the week before our get-together, and the decision to make them happened in 3.8 seconds. A phrase that sums me up well: I am hip about time (be ready for a quiz).

MiniPancakes

CREAM CHEESE MINI-PANCAKES WITH SMOKED SALMON
(from Evil Shenanigans)

For the pancakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
1 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
8 ounces cold smoked salmon
Freshly chopped chives, for garnish

For the sour cream sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and chives. In a small bowl cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the egg and whisk until completely incorporated.  Whisk in the milk.Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until just incorporated and no large lumps remain.  Do not over-mix.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Spray lightly with non-stick spray then scoop the batter by the tablespoon into the pan.  Cook for one minute on the first side, flip, then cook for an additional thirty seconds, or until the cakes are golden brown and spring back when gently pressed in the center.  Remove to a plate to cool while you prepare the rest.

While the cakes cool prepare the sour cream sauce by adding the sour cream, horseradish and salt to a small bowl.  Whisk to combine then let stand ten minutes.

To prepare, spoon a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of the sauce onto the center of the cakes.  Top with a piece of the salmon.  Garnish with the chives.  These can be assembled up to one hour in advance.  Serve at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositepancakes

Comments: There’s something to be said about practicing recipes before a big event, however, it’s not always possible. Still, a recipe such as this makes me admire caterers, because small details are so important in that business. If I had to make these again, I would try to make each pancake a little smaller. They puffed up more than I expected, so in the end my appetizers were a tiny bit too big.  I was so involved in frying them that I did not realize the problem until it was time to assemble the sour cream topping and the salmon. So, if you make them for your next dinner or cocktail party, run a little test, fry different portions and settle on the amount that will be perfect for your topping. Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to smoked salmon, but let’s face it: it’s a classic topping with the dill and all.  Capers would feel totally at home also…  just sayin’….

PancakesReady
You can make these pancakes ahead of time, and I am sure they freeze well too with all the cream cheese in the batter.  I think a salmon mousse would be superb topping these babies, with a sprinkle of fresh dill all over. Come to think of it, I’ve never made salmon mousse. Once, years and years ago, before my blogging life, I made a fish mousseline that shaved a few years off my life.  It was a recipe from a special cookbook I own, one written by Vincent Price. The recipes are amazing, but soooo involved and complicated. That fish mousse tasted wonderful but  hell will have to freeze over three times before I attempted it again.  These pancakes?  A walk at the beach by comparison… try them and you will not be disappointed!

And now it’s time for the quiz… do you know which movie the expression “I’m hip about time” comes from?  It’s as much of a classic as smoked salmon on a horseradish cream with dill and capers….

😉

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PEA PANCAKES WITH HERBED YOGURT

This recipe was on a recent issue of Food and Wine magazine, and I could not wait to try it, because at our recent rehearsal dinner in Sedona we ordered a batch of pea pancakes as an appetizer course, and they were a big hit.  René Restaurant’s version was gluten-free, this one takes a small amount of all-purpose flour. A very elegant and tasty way to celebrate spring…

PeaPancakes1

PEA PANCAKES WITH HERBED YOGURT
(slightly adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons of finely chopped tarragon, plus sprigs for garnish
1/4 tsp dried mint
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 + 1/2 cups frozen peas (8 ounces), thawed, plus more for garnish
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of cayenne pepper, or more, to taste
olive oil spray, for coating griddle

In a medium bowl, mix the 3/4 cup of yogurt with the chopped parsley, tarragon and mint and season with salt and black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the herbed yogurt until chilled, at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the peas until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain well and let cool.

In a food processor, mix cooked peas with egg, egg  yolk, cream and 1/4 cup yogurt, and process until smooth. Add the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, cardamon, and cayenne pepper. Process a minute or so more, stopping to clean the sides of the bowl midway through.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle. Spray the surface with olive oil, and spoon 1-tablespoon mounds of batter into the skillet and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer the pancakes to a platter and keep warm.  Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve the warm pancakes topped with the herbed yogurt and garnished with peas and herb sprigs.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Griddle-side
Comments:  This recipe was originally designed to make 18 tiny rounds, but  I made 6 medium-sized pancakes.  They were absolutely delicious, great texture, moist, tender, and with that perfectly bright taste of green peas.  The lemon zest, as usual, adds a lot of spark to the flavor.  I loved the herb yogurt, Phil preferred to enjoy his pancakes without adornment, or with a very light smear of butter.  For my taste, the tarragon in the yogurt made this dressing a perfect match to the peas.  Of course, if you are not too fond of tarragon, use another herb, I think fresh dill could be delicious too. I also enjoyed the contrast of the warm pancake with the cold dressing.

If you have a special dinner party coming up, think about these for your appetizer course. They would be amazing served just like small blinis, with some smoked salmon on top. They are very tasty at room temperature too, so play with different toppings and awe your guests!  Probably other types of flour could be used, like almond or coconut, turning these babies into gluten-free entities.

peas

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SMOKED SALMON APPETIZER

If you want to serve an elegant appetizer for your next dinner party, but would rather pick something simple to prepare, this recipe is just what you are looking for. All you need is a couple of endives, some smoked salmon (get the best quality you can afford),  and a little Boursin cheese thinned with creme fraiche.

IMG_4132

ENDIVE WITH SMOKED SALMON AND CREAM CHEESE
(inspired by Gluten Free Blondie)

1 or 2 endives (see comments)
Boursin cheese, room temperature
creme fraiche to taste (you can also use sour cream or yogurt)
smoked salmon, very thinly sliced
ground black pepper
fresh dill leaves, minced
.
Cut about 1/2 inch off the bottom of an endive spear. Start pulling off individual leaves. As you uncover leaves that are still attached at the base, cut another 1/2 inch off the bottom. Continue separating the endive leaves until you get to leaves that are too small.  One endive will give you about 12 leaves large enough to serve in this type of appetizer.

In a small bowl, mix the Boursin cheese with enough creme fraiche to give it a nice spreading consistency. Arrange the endive on a platter. Spread each leaf with about 1 teaspoon of the Boursin mixture. Top with a sliver of smoked salmon. Sprinkle all of the salmon and cheese topped endive with freshly ground, coarse black pepper, and a little dill.

Refrigerate until serving.
.
ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  We loved this appetizer, it is luscious enough with the creamy cheese, but the use of endive instead of a cracker gives it a much lighter feel. Next time I will go one step further and add a couple of capers to each of the servings.  Two endives were butchered to get  enough leaves for the platter you see in the photo.   You might do a lot better than me, but just in case, save yourself some trouble and bring an extra endive home.  I made it 2 hours before serving and the leaves retained their texture reasonably well.  I would not make it more than 3 hours before serving.

I hope that next time you have a dinner party on the horizon, you’ll consider this recipe.
So simple to put together, but it will impress your guests for sure.

 

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FOUR YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle

 

 

 

 

SOPHIE GRIGSON’s PARMESAN CAKE

This year’s Super Bow was low-key for us.  We’ve been hard at work, so what we wanted on that quiet Sunday was to recharge our batteries and reload for  another busy week.  Since it was just the two of us, we kept it simple:  Phil made his killer guacamole, and I prepared a recipe from my newest acquisition, the mammoth  “Essential New York Times Cookbook.”   The way it’s going, our pickup truck may not hold all our belongings (cookbooks!) on the trip home.  I’ve bought more cooking literature than I can possibly use here, and this one will add considerable weight to our load!    😉

This savory cake resembles corn bread in its looks and texture, smells terrific while baking, and does not disappoint in taste either warm or at room temperature.  We had a couple of slices on Sunday, and enjoyed the rest for lunch in the Gonda-McDonald courtyard at UCLA, on the sunny patio outside our building.  In the 75 degree sun it was hard to believe that the rest of the country was battling snowstorms…

Is it Summer yet?

SOPHIE GRIGSON’S PARMESAN CAKE
(from The Essential New York Times Cookbook)

1 cup flour
1+1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz parmiggiano cheese, finely grated
1/4 cup semolina flour
freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
3/4 cup whole milk

Heat the oven to 375 F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan with butter and reserve.  Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then add the grated cheese, semolina flour, and black pepper to your taste.   Mix well to combine.

Make a well in the center, pour the butter, egg yolks, and milk, and mix until thoroughly combined. Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff, then fold delicately into the cheese mixture.  Spoon everything in the prepared pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and the surface feels firm to the touch.  Serve warm or cold, cut in wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  One word about the New York Times book:  awesome!  I have no idea how anyone could gather the energy and commitment to create such a masterpiece, but I’m sure glad that Amanda Hesser did it.   I haven’t yet finished  browsing its 932 pages, but I already have a long list of things to make.

Hesser suggests serving this cake in small wedges for cocktail parties with a glass of red wine, or with soup or salad for a light meal.   A hot bowl of tomato bisque (with a touch of basil, of course) is another great match. My only problem with the recipe was the name:  ‘parmesan’ suggests the use of cheap versions of this excellent cheese, with which I strongly disagree.  Instead, buy the best parmiggiano reggiano available, because that’s a taste that you’ll remember.

ONE YEAR AGO: Antibiotics and Food (something I’m very concerned about)

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