Deciding on an appetizer for an event, whether it be a large group of people or a small intimate gathering, can sometimes be a daunting challenge, especially if the fridge is already bursting at the seams laden with fare to feed a hungry group of diners at the table. We recently encountered such a situation. The appetizer must be elegant to suit the occasion… but quick and easy to put together so as not to take time and attentions away from the last minute details required by the main meal. And, most importantly, we would rather have time to socialize and relax with our guests when they arrive!
Smoked salmon is always wonderful and delicious… and we happened to have a large fillet that we had recently hickory smoked sitting contentedly in the bottom drawer of the fridge, begging to be used! While perusing the contents of the drawer I was delighted to discover a couple of packages of cream cheese as well. Sitting prominently on the top right hand shelf was a crock of freshly made creme fraiche. Further investigation produced some fresh delicate baby dill as well as a bunch of beautiful dark green chives… a wonderful appetizer was in the making! A quick trip to the market to purchase some everything bagels on which to slather a mouth-watering smoked salmon spread was all that was necessary to allow creation of a tasty palate pleaser. The guests raved… and we enjoyed great pre-dinner conversation while sipping a glass of effervescent Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. The moment was elegant… and magical… in its simplicity!
Home-Smoked Salmon & Caramelized Garlic Spread with Crisped Bagel Rounds
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream until smooth:
2 8-oz packages cream cheese at room temperature
1 C creme fraiche
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T roasted or caramelized garlic
2 T minced fresh baby dill
2 T minced fresh chives
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
Mix to blend. Add:
8 oz smoked salmon, minced
Mix well and chill in a covered container. We suggest that this be made a day or two in advance to allow the flavors to meld.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thinly slice:
6 – 12 everything bagels, depending on the number of guests
Chef’s Note: Using a sharp knife gently slice each bagel into 5 or 6 thin slices. This may require a bit of patience but it can be done!
Place bagel slices on a sheetpan:
Toast until crisp and golden brown, 20 minutes:
Allow to cool and place in an airtight container. This can also be done several days in advance to make your day of entertaining easy and as carefree as possible… Bon Appetit!
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