Please excuse the brief hiatus. My quiet life of mealplanning and forging the frontiers of science was briefly interrupted to attend to my Pop's heart, which it turns out is pretty darn tough. Speaking of things I love more than all the stars in the sky:
Hurray, a celebratory excuse to use my new stovetop smoker! And when I think of smoking something (food, people, food), I think of salmon. To be fair, I also did a trout fillet, which turned out great too but was not nearly as gorgeous to photograph.
And of course, when I think of smoked salmon, I think of bagel or baguette toasts, and when I think of those, I think of luscious soft creamy cheese. This lovely little specimen is a Spanish goat called "Monte Enebro". The cheese guy says to me, "Usually people are scared off by the funky appearance, but I swear, it's really delicious!" Well, Cheese Guy, I don't scare easily. And it was delicious, the powdery gray mold is actually quite soft and mild, with a exceptionally creamy and subtle interior. I know I've said I like my cheeses to kick me in the pants, but I suppose what this one lacks in crotch-punching flavor it makes up for in unpleasant appearance.
I can't remember the name of this one, but basically it was a layer of herbed goat on top with plain goat on the bottom, separated by a layer of tapenade. It was also delicious. The only thing keeping me from dumpster-diving to find the name on the discarded wrapping is that it's obviously distinctive looking, so I ought to be able to find it again. I'll definitely repurchase both of these.
I've found one baguette serves about 4 people nicely.
Lemons, capers, and red onion are classic smoked salmon accoutrements. I selected a nice spicy sprout mix as well. I have no idea what to do with the other 3/4 of the container. Suggestions?
Back to my stovetop smoker. How cool is this thing? And it was only like $60. Smokes right on your stove in your kitchen (although you could pop it on your barbecue too) and would easily fit a large rack of ribs. It came with a variety pack of wood chips and recommended alder for smoking salmon. Not one to disobey a printed recommendation, alder it was.
25 minutes later, it was like buttah.
1 lb smoked salmon, or get some good quality raw salmon and smoke your own (I wouldn't use my price club stuff for this, the quality of the fish is critical when there is minimal flavor manipulation. However, just one pound served four people, so, you do the math)
Accoutrements (I counted 13 little plates and bowls of goodies on my table. So much fun!):
creamy cheeses, I like goats for this but cream cheese, Neufchatel, or mascarpone would all be good
cornichons (oh how I love crunchy sweet little cornichons)
Dijon mustard, I served a horseradish Dijon
red onion, very thinly sliced
salami, prosciutto, bresaola, etc. I served a really nice mustard seed salami
Smear a toast with cheese, dot with capers and a few slices of onion, a pinch of sprouts and a few flakes of salmon (or a slice of salami), topped with a squeeze of lemon. Round out the meal with a little green salad or fruit. Consume out on your deck with your loved ones. Including the pooches.