Saturday, December 29, 2018

ChezCindy: Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur

If you can make a grilled cheese sandwich, you can make Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur.  This is simply a fancy name.  Typically, a croque monsieur is made with ham and cheese and topped with a cheese sauce called Mornay, which is a basic white sauce with grated cheese added.  When you are served a good "Croque" you will be eating a rich and delicious sandwich.  Not to be confused with a basic ham and cheese sandwich.  I know it may seem I am getting a little fussy here, but there is a difference.

A smoked salmon croque is a modified version of the traditional French sandwich.  This recipe is inspired by a recipe from Chef Eric Ripert in his book, A Return to Cooking.   I often serve these as an appetizer for dinner parties.  They are always a huge favorite.  The sandwiches would also make a nice lunch served with a crisp green salad.  

Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
8 slices thinly sliced white sandwich bread
8 ounces sliced smoked salmon
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
zest and juice of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Makes 4 sandwiches

Lay out the 8 bread slices.  I use Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread.  Evenly divide the grated cheese onto 4 of the bread slices.  Place 2 ounce of smoked salmon onto the other 4 slices of bread.  Sprinkle the chopped chives over the cheese; divide the lemon zest over the salmon along with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Close the sandwiches.  Spread the softened butter on both outer sides of the sandwiches.

Heat a large skillet or griddle pan over medium-high heat.  Place the sandwiches cheese side down and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Turn over the sandwiches, cooking this side until lightly browned.  Remove from the pan to a cutting board.  Cut the sandwiches in half on the diagonal, cut each half again diagonally to make triangles.  Serve hot.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

ChezCindy: Puff Pastry Sausage Appetizer

There is so much going on this time of year.  From holiday gatherings to football bowl parties, to shopping frenzies.  We are all looking for something easy and delicious to eat.  This recipe is influenced from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.  I made these puff pastry sausages for a family gathering and they were a big hit with the youngest 5-year old child and on up to her grandparents.

The recipe is very versatile.  Ms. Garten used a lamb sausage in her original recipe.  I had chicken sausage in the freezer so that is what I used, serving it with a creamy mayo-mustard dipping sauce.  When next I make these, I want to take an Italian approach using a spicy Italian sausage and serve with a marinara sauce for dipping.  I served these as an appetizer, but they could easily stand in as lunch served with a salad.

Puff Pastry Sausage Appetizer
8 ounces fresh sausage links - 4 links
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed - such as Pepperidge Farm
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 egg, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a large sheet tray by lining it with parchment paper.

In a medium skillet, cook the sausage for 5-10 minutes until browned and cooked through.  Allow to cool.  Once cool, if the sausage is thick and fat, cut in half length-wise.  Blot off any excess grease.

Unfold the single sheet of puff pastry.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the folds to flatten the sheet.  Cut the sheet into 4 equal squares.

Brush each square with 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Place 1 sausage link on each square, rolling the sausage to encase it in the puff pastry.

Seal the ends by pinching them to close.  Place the pastry roll onto the prepared sheet tray, seam-side down.  Repeat with each sausage link.

Make an egg wash by beating the egg with 1 tablespoon of water.  Lightly brush each sausage roll with the egg wash.  Using a sharp knife, cut 3 slits across the top of each sausage roll.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Cool slightly.  Cut into 1-inch pieces.  Serve hot or room temperature.

To make the creamy mayo-mustard dipping sauce:  Combine 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 2 teaspoons of whole-grain mustard and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Stir well to combine.

Friday, December 14, 2018

ChezCindy: Smoked Salmon Latkes

If you are looking for an easy yet impressive appetizer, this should be on your list to make.  

Latkes are usually made with grated potatoes and onion.  Here, I add grated carrots to the mix to add a bit of color, flavor and texture.  Topped with smoked salmon, chopped egg and thinly sliced green onion make this a delightful savory treat.  The latkes can be made ahead of time and kept warm in a low temperature oven.  Assemble with the smoked salmon and chopped eggs right before your guests arrive.  These are also very good at room temperature, but best when served right away.  

I encourage you not to shy away from making these as they are not difficult to make.  Promise.  If you are not a fan of smoked salmon, simply serve these plain, lightly salted, with a dollop of sour cream.  These latkes would be perfect for a cocktail party or right at home for a football bowl game.  

Smoked Salmon Latkes
1 pound russet potatoes
2 large carrots
1 small onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

Sliced smoked salmon
Chopped egg
Green onion, thinly sliced

Prepare a sheet tray lining it with paper towels and a wire rack set on top of the paper towels.  This is where the cooked latkes will be placed when removed from the hot oil.

To make the latkes:  Using a food processor fitted with the grating blade, or use a box grater, grate the potatoes, carrots, and the onion.  Transfer to a large kitchen towel. Gather the towel tightly around the potato mixture and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.  

Transfer the potato mixture to a large bowl.  Add the egg, 3 tablespoons of flour, salt and pepper.  Stir until blended. 

In a large cast iron pan or electric skillet, add enough oil to cover the bottom to 1/4 inch depth.  Heat the oil to 365 degrees.  Transfer 1 tablespoon of the potato mix into the pan, gently pressing the mound to flatten slightly.  Continue to fill the pan, allowing space between each potato mound.  Cook until the edges turn crisp and brown.  Carefully flip to continue cooking on the second side.  Transfer the cooked latkes to the prepared tray onto the wire rack.  Sprinkle with additional salt.  Keep warm in a low temperature oven until ready to assemble with toppings and serve.  

Top each latke with sliced smoked salmon, chopped egg and thinly sliced green onion tops.  Serve immediately.