Thursday, March 26, 2015

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs with a Lox Rosette

A Spring 2015 Brunch Menu

Mention a celebration brunch and I immediately envision Eggs Benedict with extra Hollandaise... Sticky Buns dripping with caramel... Onion Bagels loaded with Lox and Cream Cheese... Creampuffs... Shrimp and Creamy Cheese Grits... Oh, how that list goes on. This year I aimed for a lighter menu when planning a brunch with friends to welcome Spring. Reality check: Pat prefers healthy meals and Rick is training for an April IronMan triathlon, so I lost any real excuse to get wild and crazy with butter and sugar. Okay, that also meant I would spend less time on last-minute cooking and more time visiting with guests - always a good thing.   

Not that every item was light and low calorie (think ham-and-cheese filled croissant with herb sauce), but the buffet did offer a variety of choices; hopefully something for everyone. Conversation flourished, the hours flew by, and Spring joined the party with a fine display of ever-changing weather. 

Brunch Menu: Spring 2015

Smoked Salmon Squares
Caprese Salad with a Light Vinaigrette
*Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs With Lox
Fresh Fruit Platter with Sauce
Baked Croissants with Ham, Havarti, Sliced Pear & Herb Sauce
Mini Cheese Quiches with Peppers, Spinach & Chicken Sausage
Orange Juice (Champagne available)

My favorite brunch choice? I thought it would be the small croissant sandwiches, but instead I ate more than my share of the deviled eggs. That shouldn't have been a surprise when both smoked salmon and lox were involved! The filling was an unusual flavor departure from any of my previous favorites (link), but why stick to just one filling when so many tempting recipes are available? (link

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs Plus Lox

adapted from a recipe in a SeriousEats post by J. Kenji L√≥pez-Alt: 9 In-Your-Face Deviled Egg Variations

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 heaping tablespoons cream cheese (reduced fat)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Best Foods lite)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon, grated
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (Colman's)
1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds, plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon toasted onion powder (not onion salt)
heaping 1/4 cup minced smoked salmon
Kosher Salt

For garnish:
Thinly sliced scallions 

Paper-thin slices of lox, cut into strips and rolled into rosettes
Capers, rinsed and drained

Place all of the yolks in a medium bowl. Add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, dry mustard, sesame seeds, onion powder, and smoked salmon to the yolks. Use a sturdy whisk or a fat fork and combine thoroughly -mash, stir and whip together until thoroughly combined. Season with salt to taste.

Note: To prepare these ahead of time, the filling and egg white halves can be stored separately overnight in covered containers in the refrigerator before filling. (Place the egg white halves cut-side-down in a single layer.) 

If you have a steady hand, use a spoon to fill each egg white half. For a more attractive result spoon the filling into a ziplock bag, cut off a corner of the bag and pipe the yolk mixture into the egg white halves. Either way, mount the filling to slightly overstuff each cavity. Garnish each deviled egg with sesame seeds, scallion rings, capers and a lox rosette. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pasta Salad - Plus Peppers and Carrots and Broccoli... oh my!

Moving off the boat after a short project-filled few weeks at the dock or following a lengthy cruise, means our meals grow interesting. It reminds me of an episode of the TV show Chopped where cooks prepare a dish from a basket filled with "must-use" ingredients. Thankfully boat cooking is considerably less exotic than the TV challenge. Some days we win with new flavor combinations, on other days the food is just... unusual. The goal is to empty the fridge and freezer in case of a power outage on the dock while we are gone. Most of the assorted bottles and jars that fill the refrigerator door shelves will survive a brief power interruption, but experience has taught me not to leave any meat or seafood in the freezer. Don't ask, it's a marriage-threatening tale.

One recent end-of-stay breakfast was a winning combination of apple-filled, syrup-drizzled, sourdough crepes topped with sliced almonds and apple pie-flavored whipped cream. Sigh! what a decadent contrast to a more typical bowl of cereal, yogurt and sliced bananas. Apples are on the traveler's prohibited food list for transport across the US and CDN border in either direction, and I hated to waste the few beauties remaining in our fruit bowl, thus the apple crepes. Fruits with seeds, stone fruits, potatoes and onions, dairy, some meats, etc. are on the list. This list is long and seemingly variable so it's easiest not to carry much uncooked food north or south in order to avoid Custom's delays. But I digress... let's move on to lunch and a tasty, colorful pasta salad packed with vegetables and protein.

Pasta salad shines as a superstar dish, versatile and ready to embrace a mixed assortment of vegetables, cheeses and occasionally protein. The latest combination was colorful with a rainbow assortment of mini peppers, broccoli and carrots. Cavatappi is always a favorite short pasta, its open curls attract other ingredients in a welcoming hug and hold the dressing as well. Cheeses, capers and some protein added more flavor punch and a zesty vinaigrette dressing pulled it all together. The dish served as a hearty lunch for two, plus a generous portion left over for a next-day snack on the southbound ferry. 

 Pasta Salad Plus Peppers and Carrots and Broccoli, oh my!
  • cooked cavatappi (5 generous handfuls uncooked pasta)
  • 6 fat green onions, chopped 
  • 1 cup of diced mini sweet peppers 
  • 1 cup broccoli flowerettes, blanched  
  • 1/2 cup carrot coins, blanched  
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed capers 
  • 1 cup shredded mixed cheeses (Parmesan & mozzarella) 
  • 3 slices of hard salami julienned 
  • 1 small can of premium, solid tuna packed in oil
The dressing included: 
  • 1/2 package dehydrated onion soup dip mix
  • 5-count swirl of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-count swirl of balsamic vinegar
  • 2-count swirl of seasoned rice vinegar
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce on the side for individual tastes 
You know the drill: 

  1. Cook, drain and rinse the pasta, drain again
  2. While the pasta cooks, prep the vegetables and slice the meat
  3. Prepare the dressing; taste and adjust seasonings
  4. In a large bowl combine the cooled and drained pasta, chopped vegetables, meats and dressing mixture. Toss gently to coat all with the dressing. 
  5. Let rest for several minutes, then toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings - at this point I usually add some hot sauce and red pepper flakes.

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