Delicate Smoked Fish Dip with Charred Leeks and Capers

Making smoked fish dip-A Stack of Dishes

Looking for a smokey dip that doesn’t include bacon? I can’t say it’s an equal exchange, because really- what is?, but this smoked fish dip has great flavor in a light and delicate base, which makes it easy to indulge in.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of smoked fish, and not just salmon. I grew up by the sea, and many of my school chums had families that fished those local waters (many of the others farmed the fields we drove past every day). Though I grew up on Long Island, it was far enough eastward to not have those glorious Jewish delis with their smoked sable and whitefish. Instead there was a guy, who is the son of a guy, who had been smoking his over-catch in his garage for decades.


Mixing the Smoked Fish Dip- A Stack of Dishes

The fishes that are best for capturing and infusing the flavor have the most fat, which is why salmon is such a favorite. My preferred fish is Bluefish. It was a bit of a bastard fish as a kid. Fresh it is grey in color, super oily, and it has a pretty decent fishy smell when cooked. Quite the opposite from say something like flounder or sole, which is virginal white, delicate and light- the princesses in the fish world. Bluefish, when smoked, is just so moist and buttery in texture. It can easily be mashed onto a cracker, no little annoying bones like trout, and a fraction of the cost of salmon.

Slicing leeks to be charred- A Stack of Dishes

The natural oiliness in the fish is not only the healthiest of fats you can eat, but it also means that when incorporating this fish into your recipes it becomes the flavor carrier. Most dips and spreads at a gathering are super fat bombs. One or two tablespoons can knock your diet socks right off- and who has just a tablespoon or two? I love them, I really do, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t be enjoyed, it’s just so super wonderful when you can enjoy something rich tasting and not have your liver end up in crisis. [Read more…]

Country Pate {Pate de Campagne}

Pork and Turkey Country Pate ~ A Stack of Dishes

The cooler weather is finally settling in to Louisiana. I should hardly say a thing about it since some of my Northern friends are already suffering storms and foul weather. “Cooler weather” here means the horrible chore of having to put on a jacket, and I hate to tell you that a scarf is non unheard of at 66 degrees. (Yes, 66 is considered nippy to me now. *sigh*) Be that as it may, this is where we are at, and we must all flow where we are.

As the days shorten The Wife and I find ourselves pulling together dinner parties in lieu of the sunset cocktails on the porch. This is a wonderland for us. The Wife is in charge of the family “wine cellar”, a job that she takes on with passion and with great talent. Me, I have the joy of delving into the kitchen and creating more complicated and time intensive dishes.

Recently we had a small dinner party. The Wife chose a gorgeous Italian Prosecco to serve to our guests as they gathered and settled. We have learned that some of the best evenings start off with a little sparkle. As an accompaniment, my mind went to something earthy, something savory, with a hint of sweet to offset the wine. I wanted something special and yet, not overly stuffy. When I lived in Manhattan there were plenty of options for pre made pates of several types- but that’s not so much the case here. I also discovered when discussing this idea with a few friends was that not so many folks are as keen on liver as I am. This I find not surprising, but just so sad. I simply adore liver pate and could easily overindulge with abandon. 

When I first moved here I found the lack of provisions an obstacle, but these days I have come to accept it as de rigeur. I remind myself not to complain when there are so many other wonderful things about living here. Besides, it has forced me to become more honed to the basic  kitchen arts, which does my heart good. The art of making pate however does not demand fine skills. I would say the challenge lies less in the technique and more in the balance of flavors. [Read more…]