I recently jumped on the bandwagon for spoon appetizers, I wonder where they started. I liked the idea right away, when they first came into vogue, but it took me a while to follow this trend. Once I begun making them though, I was hooked. Yesterday I had the opportunity to make some pre-dinner appetizers and my inspiration was a lunch at Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery prepared by Chef Darin Patterson of Bogner of Penticton restaurant. We were served beautiful one bite appetizers on long handled spoons in the vineyard and they were so delicious, fresh and elegant in their simplicity that I had to make them in my kitchen. Chef Patterson served a cucumber salad made of finely diced and peeled cucs with dill, salt and maybe a little vinegar if I remember correctly. I need to write these things down more regularly. My recipe is a variation of that.
When we entertain I like to have a couple of appetizers to serve with a glass of bubbly before dinner but I don’t want to set up too much food. I often find that it complicates things unnecessarily and there is already so much to do when one entertains. These little bites though work perfectly. I think if you make 2 types of appetizers on spoons you don’t have to serve more than one of each per person, there is still dinner to come in a few minutes and no one is starving. It’s just a teaser, remember? On the other hand, it’s hard to make little of anything so if you make more then you may as well serve it.
In terms of the appetizer spoons, there are different ones on the market, some intended to be treated like a spoon, others to have items you pick up with your hand off the spoon. I don’t particularly like the spoons that are deep. It’s hard to get the food off them in one slurp. If it’s a liquid appetizer you may as well serve it in little glasses called verrines in French. By the way, when I go to Paris in May I am going to the Cordon Bleu for cooking classes and one will be appetizers in a glass. Will post about it then. Stay tuned.
So this appetizer was very simple to prepare. I peeled the cucumber, removed the seeds, cut the cuc into long narrow strips and then lined them up and cut them into fine dice. Add a little chives and lots of dill, salt, white pepper and a splash of champagne vinegar. Add some chopped smoked salmon or lox if you want (I did). That’s it.
For the goat cheese mousse that I spooned on top: whip some whipping cream, add soft goat cheese towards the end. Add salt and white pepper if needed, depending on the cheese. Done. Isn’t this simple? Note: everything is best when freshly made but you can make this a few hours ahead of time, it will still be good. You can leave the salting until just before serving to be safe, because salt draws out the moisture from the cucs, but it’s good either way.
Here is the recipe:
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
1/4 cup dill, chopped
A splash of champagne vinegar, a couple of teaspoons probably
A few slices smoked salmom, chopped
Salt and white pepper
Goat cheese mousse:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup goat cheese
Peel cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and remove all the seeds and soft flesh around the seeds with a melon baller or a spoon. You should be left with the crisp flesh of the cuc.
Cut each half lengthwise into long narrow strips.
Line up the strips together and cut them into small dice. Place in a bowl.
Add chives, dill and vinegar.
Add the smoked salmon.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Goat cheese mousse:
Whip the cream to soft peaks.
Add the softened goat cheese and mix until light and fluffy.
To serve, spoon some of the salad onto the spoon, top with a small mound of goat cheese mousse and garnish with a sprig of dill.