Sunday, March 02, 2008

Smoked Salmon Dip for Isabella: 'Pink Stuff'

Isabella's second birthday party was this afternoon in Athens, with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousin, and neighbors there. One of the dishes on the appetizer table was a salmon dip that at the time she did not want, prefering cheese, fruit, and eventually cake. Later Lisa, her mother, called to say Isabella was now into the salmon, once the whirl of her party was over. She liked the 'pink stuff'.

I had made the dip, really more a spread, the day before and brought it to the party. It was well received by the adults, Isabella's reaction notwithstanding. Several people were interested in a recipe. So voila! The smoked salmon I get is the kind used for layering on bagels or tossing into a cream and peas pasta. But it is cheaper at our Dekalb Farmers Market, where the 'trimmings' -- small pieces of otherwise fine smoked Atlantic salmon -- are about half the price of the beautiful thin-sliced sheets. The sheets work fine for the recipe, but do cost more.

The dip should be made at least several hours, or up to a day, ahead for the flavors to blend. The recipe will make enough for snacks for twelve, as long as other appetizers are available. Serve with thinly sliced bread, such as baguette or pumpernickel, or 'water crackers', so you can taste the dip.

Smoked Salmon Dip with Capers Tim

1/2 pound smoked salmon
1 thin scallion (green onion)
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 cup (1/2 pint) sour cream (I presume you could use low- or non-fat 'sour cream')
4 ounces (half of an 8-ounce block) cream cheese
Juice of 1 medium-small lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt (less if salmon is very salty) plus to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1-1/2 tablespoons capers, drained (get small capers, or coarsely chop larger ones)
Dill sprigs for garnish

Use a food processor with a steel blade and pulse to finely chop the salmon, scallion (roots and 1/2 inch of the green tops discarded), cut in pieces, and horseradish. Add the sour cream and partially puree the mixture. Add the cream cheese, cut in chunks, the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse, scraping down the bowl several times, to make a smooth puree. Remove the mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in the dill and capers. Allow to sit 10 minutes, mix again. Taste, and add a little salt or lemon juice if desired. The dip should not be too tangy with lemon juice.

Refrigerate at least several hours, or make the dip the day ahead of serving it. When ready to serve, mix the dip again, and taste for salt and lemon juice. Serve the dip in a fancy bowl, or mounded up on a small platter. Garnish with small sprigs of fresh dill. Accompany with thinly sliced bread or non-salty crackers.

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