My cousin Erica and her boyfriend Patrick came to visit me in Colorado one last time before I moved to Washington DC. Erica is one of my most food adventurous friends (or maybe just adventurous friends in general) and is always down for trying strange TJOC foods, which is a great feature in my friends. It occurred to me that I could throw a party and make a lot of the weird TJOC foods and make a lot of progress on the list. I also invited Julieanna and her boyfriend, as well as Heidi and Ryan. And I cooked a lot. A LOT. In fact, somewhere around the middle of this marathon cooking, I realized that I was cooking a truly stupid amount for someone with a friend in town who she could barely talk to because she was cooking like a maniac. My picture taking suffered, too, because I was cooking so many things at the same time.
That being said, the night was incredibly successful. I managed to have everything finished and on the table within ten minutes of guests arriving, which was perfect, because some of the dishes needed to be served hot. The food was plentiful and tasty and everyone had fun.
I really would like to knock out an entire TJOC chapter. So I set my sights on "Appetizers and Hors D'Oeuvres" as the most likely first chapter to be finished. And I started knocking out appetizers.
I started with Salmon pate (p. 85). In a small saucepan I combined salmon fillet, white wine, olive oil, Cognac, and a little salt and pepper:
This was brought to a boil and cooked until the salmon was opaque. I drained the salmon and threw the liquid away. In another pan I melted butter and added a little sliced smoked salmon, cooking until opaque. This went into the food processor with some butter. Using a fork I combined the two and refrigerated the concoction overnight:
Cat food. It totally looked like cat food. Not very appetizing, right? It tasted okay but I would never bother making it again. It's also possible I'm just not a pate type of girl because I've never found a pate that I've particularly enjoyed. But I would rather just eat the smoked salmon by itself and that's certainly a lot less work.
I also made Salmon mousse (p. 85). This recipe has been bothering me for a while because it looked incredibly disgusting. The combination of whipped cream and seafood just turns me off.
I combined lemon juice and unflavored gelatin in a small pan. I let it sit for about five minutes to soften the gelatin and dissolved it over low heat. After it cooled to lukewarm I stirred mayonnaise and sour cream into the gelatin mixture.
I combined canned red salmon (CANNED red salmon. Again, cat food. Honestly, canned seafood is nauseating), dill, shallot, capers, sweet paprika, and white pepper in the tiny food processor and pulsed it until just combined.
I added the gelatin mixture and pulsed a couple more times. In another bowl I whipped cream. I folded the cream into the salmon mixture:
TJOC recommends using a mold shaped like a fish, which, bizarrely, I own but couldn't find the one time I needed it. So I just used a stainless steel bowl. The finished mousse looked like this (the white streaks are from the butter I used to oil the bowl):
I bet you are getting hungry, right? You wish you could dive right into that deliciousness, right? No? At least it unmolded cleanly.
Actually, it wasn't bad. I still think it would be a thousand times better with fresh salmon rather than canned and I wish my mold was shaped like a fish. Even so, it had a nice subtle flavor and tasted delicious on bread or crackers. TJOC mentions that the mousse can be pipped into cucumber cups and that is so incredibly retro. I think that would be another excellent choice for your upcoming Mad Men party.
I had a little bit of smoked salmon left over so I thought I would make Smoked salmon rolls (p. 85) too. I combined cream cheese, dill, minced scallion, and lemon juice. That was spread thinly over sliced smoked salmon and it was rolled up:
Not pretty because of the terrible salmon-slicing job but really delicious. I'm a big fan of dill and cream cheese combinations so it had good odds of being a winner in my book. I would definitely make these again and actually put the effort in to make them attractive.