Sunday, June 9, 2013

Smoked Salmon Finger Sandwiches

These open-faced finger salmon sandwiches were my other contribution to my Cooking Club's Afternoon Tea themed meeting. The horseradish adds a nice bite to the cream cheese and you can use either chive or dill as both complement smoked salmon really well. Get the best smoked salmon you can find or afford. I love Trader Joe's Nova Smoked Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon.

No occasion for finger sandwiches? Chop the smoked salmon and mix it into the cream cheese with all the other ingredients. Use the spread on a whole wheat bagel. Delish!

Makes 15 to 20 mini sandwiches (based on a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis)
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature = 170 g de cream cheese ou équivalent
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or dill = 2 cuillères à soupe de ciboulette ou aneth fraiche, grossièrement hâchée
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish = 2 cuillères à café de raifort préparé
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped = 1 cuillères à soupe de câpres, hâchés
  • zest of 1 lemon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice = zeste d'un citron + 1 cuillère à café du jus
  • Salt & pepper, to taste = sel et poivre
  • 5 or 6 slices pumpernickel bread = 5 ou 6 tranches de pain de seigle
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon = 225 g de saumon fumé, en fines tranches
  • Additional fresh chives or dill, for garnish = quelques brins de ciboulette ou aneth pour décorer
In a bowl, mix cream cheese, chopped chives (or dill), horseradish, pepper, salt, capers and lemon zest and juice until smooth.
Spread about 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture over each slice of bread. Top with smoked salmon. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut 3 or 4 circles out of each slice of bread. Place a small dollop of the cream cheese mixture on top and garnish with chive or dill. Enjoy!

Crème pâtissière / Pastry Cream

A few weeks ago, I posted a profiterole recipe. At the time, I was pressed for time and decided to fill the puffs with ice cream. It was delicious. Today, for our Cooking Club's Afternoon Tea, I filled them with the smoothest, most decadent pastry cream I have ever made. It definitely rivals any choux à la crème or éclair you would find in a French patisserie (pastry shop).

Makes enough to fill 15 medium cream puffs
  • 2 cups half-and-half or whole milk = 475 ml de lait entier
  • ½ cup sugar = 100 g de sucre
  • pinch salt = pincée de sel 
  • 5 large egg yolks = 5 jaunes d'oeuf
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch = 3 cuillères à soupe de maizena
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces = 50 g de beurre, coupé en 4 morceaux
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract = 1 ½ cuillère à café d'extrait de vanille

Heat the half-and-half (or milk), 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, use a hand mixer to whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and whisk until the mixture is creamy, about 1 minute. Whisk in the cornstarch until the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 2 minutes.

When the half-and-half mixture reaches a full simmer (do not boil!), gradually and slowly whisk it into the yolk mixture to temper. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick and glossy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter (1 tablespoon at a time) and the vanilla.

Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate overnight  or for at least 3 hours until set.
It's now ready to use in any desserts that call for pastry cream: fruit tarts or tartlets, napoléons, éclairs. Enjoy!