Last week I taught myself how to make perfect custard cream puffs, filled with decadent vanilla custard and cream. This week I am building on recipes … expanding my new found knowledge, creating new food ideas and trying out a few different things. Today we are going savoury.
At the end of the month it will be Easter weekend, and R has invited his workmate over with his gorgeous girlfriend to dinner at our place. I was given free reign as to what went on the menu but I was also made aware that a roast dinner would be “very much appreciated”. I don’t do roast dinners. Period. But no harm trying I suppose. Just need to channel my inner Jamie Oliver and Marco Pierre White, and think ‘less is more’ when dealing with a hearty roast. Anyway, if the main meal fails I hope my entreés won’t.
I like making little nibbly bites that look pretty and that packs hidden surprises inside. Fiddly, I know, but it is what I most look forward to the most when I attend hotel lunches or high teas. If I was a cook in a professional kitchen I think I’d be quite happy in the garde manger section. My fascination with the cold kitchen began when I happened to pick up a copy (by total accident) of Michael Ruhlman’s book ‘The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America’. It was as if my whole brain had woken up that day and suddenly all I could think about was food and cooking it! I wanted to quit my studies as a graduate nurse and study the art of cooking at the Culinary Institute of America (C.I.A) . But I knew that was totally out of the question for me … who on earth was going to finance this sudden career change anyway? But I have never given up on learning how to cook. I did extensive reading into making terrines, aspics, sausages and all the other wonderful bite sized treats one finds in the cold section of a buffet table. I even bought the CIA’s home cookbook on Hors d’Oeuvre and poured over every page the same day it arrived.
What I like about Hors d’Oeuvres and mini bites is the way they are presented ~ mini plates, white ceramic platters, long slate grey tiles, tiny garnishes … but they are almost always big on flavour. Its like all the flavours that could ever encompass the components that make up this little morsel has to be crammed into its pint size. Its a very intricate piece of food with many dimensions and layers, textures and colours all rolled into one cohesive bundle. Magic!
On Saturdays appetizer menu I will be presenting :
Smoked Salmon Mousse in Pâte à Choux
Red Onion & Cucumber Salad with Yoghurt dressing
So today I will be showing you how to make the first item on that list yourselves. First you wanna get your choux pastry dough going. Please refer to my Custard Cream Puff article on how to make the choux pasty shells. That is probably the worse bit … getting the choux pastry shells just right. Simple recipe, but I couldn’t believe how many things could go wrong with it!!
Next we move on to making our smoked salmon mousse. Today I am trying out a store bought mousse** … not sure if it is any good, but worth a try. If it is then I can save some time on the day by using this product. But I still want to share with you a mousse made from scratch. This recipe has been adapted from MasterChef : The Professionals tv series.
- smoked salmon slices
- creme fraiche or heavy cream
- lemon juice
- pepper to taste
- chopped dill or chives
I have intensionally omitted the amount and exact measurements because the recipe really depends on your personal preference. If you like more fish, then add more fish. If you want more cream then add more cream. The basic ingredients are there, its all up to you how you want to play around with those components to suit your tastebuds.
1. Blend the fish slices in a blender to mince them into manageable chunks, then pass them through a tammis or a very fine sieve to achieve a very fine paste.
2. Add the cream a little at a time until you get the consistancy you desire. This is to me the trickiest bit because the cream comes in a liquid form …. underbeat and your mixture will be too runny; but beat it too much and you will end up with butter. Uuugh. To help fluff up the cream it also has to be kept cold, so whisking over a bowl of iced water will get you there.
3. Season with a squirt of fresh lemon juice, a tiny touch of fresh pepper and you are ready to serve. Garnish with dill or chives.
Variations include using cream cheese instead of heavy cream. It is more stable than cream so if you are not confident in your heavy cream whisking abilities then go for the cream cheese. It has more flavour as well, but you risk taking away the focus from the natural flavours of the smoked salmon. It will still be a fabulous mousse tho. Add chives or chopped dill weed … the final product is totally up to you.
Now once you have your mousse just pipe the mixture into the choux pastry shells, garnish with a bit more dill and you will have a very elegant hors d’Oeuvre to serve your dinner guests.
** Aaarrrgh …! Store bought salmon mousse a total letdown! It did not resemble a mousse, nor anything spreadable in nature. It looked like something I would feed my cat (not that I own one)!! I could not pipe it, nor spread it into the choux pastry cases. It had a rubbery texture, all crumbly and it looked like a pink experiment gone wrong. There were no distinguishable features that lets the consumer know it is meant to be a smoked salmon mousse other than the smell and flavour. HIDEOUS!!
So very lucky that this is my trial run and I did not find this out on the actual day itself. Well just goes to show that if you want somthing done right you’ve gotta do it yourself. The choux pastries came out reaaaallly well tho, and I am proud of myself today. HAH! No choux pastry is ever going to get the best of me!
Well I did enjoy making this today and I hope all of you out there will give it a try sometime and let me know how you went. Stay tuned for the other stuff I will be making in the coming few days. Until nextime …
~ ENJOY!! ~
Check out what is on the menu for dessert ~~ Chocolate Fondants with Créme Anglaise.