I love it when folks make my recipes! We had a big wedding in our family late this summer and celebrated ahead of time with a shower here at Glover Gardens. The nuptial couple took on the task of making one of the appetizers, my Tuscany-Texas Goat Cheese Spread. Their version was better than mine! (I think it was the love.) I’m revisiting this recipe right now because it is perfect for fall parties.
So – a little bit about this dish. It is salty, tangy, creamy, super-garlicky and fresh, with the brightness of fresh tomatoes and herbs. As you’ll see in the original post, I’ve seen guests fight each other for the last few bites. Really.
In addition to being an uber crowd-pleaser, this dish is easy to make! It is perfect for cocktail parties or wine tastings.
As I mentioned in my recent Trout Tacos post, the Grill-Meister recently went on a deep-sea fishing trip off the coast of Biloxi, Mississippi and brought home some bounty from the sea.
Today’s culinary adventure is smoking some of the trout he caught. The Grill-Meister is a wizard at smoking salmon (see Tom’s Smoked Salmon), but this is our first time to tackle trout. After looking at some recipes online, I developed the brine recipe, marinated the fillets overnight, drained, dried and got them ready, and the Grill-Meister took over at the smoking point.
Wood chips for smoking (the Grill-Meister used mesquite)
Combine all of the ingredients except the trout in a large glass baking dish, and stir to mix. Add the fillets, pushing them down into the brine to make sure all of the fish is covered, then put a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the brine and fish to make it almost airtight and keep the fish submerged. You may want to cover it with another layer of plastic wrap to seal it well. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Remove the fish from the brine and dry it on a layer of paper towels, then let it sit on a rack for about an hour to come to room temperature. Get your smoker and wood ready per the instructions from the manufacturer, and heat to 190°. Smoke for about 2 hours, keeping the temperature at around 190°, or until done. Cover and chill until you are ready to use it.
Three pounds of smoked trout is richness! How to serve it???
Smoked Trout, Plated, Al Fresco
Here’s one way: flaked, with dipping sauces fresh from our foray to the farmers market today.
Our sauces are shown below; we love to support our local vendors.
The spicy cocktail sauce for our smoked trout is Big Bayou Cocktail Sauce (with Jalapeño). Yum! The green sauce is from Pain Train, their special, once-a-year version with roasted Hatch chiles.
At the end of a challenging and productive week at work, I want to be pampered at a restaurant or to have something super-easy at home.
That’s where our Family Smorgasbord comes into play. Here’s what we had for dinner last Friday night, just the Grill-Meister and me.
It’s a selection of cheeses from our local farmers’ market, some fresh fruit and veggie with a couple of dips we had on hand (also from the farmers’ market), sliced meats and olives.
The only “cooking” was assembly of canapés from stuff we had lying around, liberally seasoned with freshly ground pepper:
leftover cornbread adorned with horseradish sauce, roast beef, red onions and parsley
leftover cucumber slices from a salad earlier in the week, spread with harissa and topped with sliced fresh jalapeños
hummus packed into celery bites sprinkled with a spicy olive/garlic/bell pepper garnish (like olive salad)
A Great Way to Spend Friday Evening
The Grill-Meister wanted red wine and I was in the mood for white, so we threw caution to the wind and opened them both (don’t judge, it was Friday). Sipping wine and enjoying a throw-together smorgasbord meal while reviewing The Week That Was and The Weekend to Come is a great way to spend a Friday evening – who wants to spend it in the kitchen? And of course we didn’t eat all that cheese, paving the way for another smorgasbord soon, maybe even this Friday.
What will yoube doing for dinner this Friday night?
Family Smorgasbord Night – No Cooking, Just Bonding
For more about our favorite Friday night no-cook, easy-peasy approach, see the original post below. Click herefor the story, including the history of smorgasbord.
The Grill-Meister owned a German deli here in our little suburb of Houston for a while, years before we met. The relics of that adventure are “I would never want to own a restaurant again” and this marvelous sandwich, the U-Boat. It’s a German-ish variation of an Italian sub sandwich.
The U-Boat is party food. Big bites for people with big appetites. Perfect for big games or big parties or just a bunch of hungry teenagers.
I convinced the Grill-Meister to revisit the U-Boat recently for a Super Bowl party we were attending, and documented his every move as he made it. Here is the recipe, just for you.
The U-Boat Sub
Ingredients (serves 4 as a main course, 8-12 as an appetizer)
Large loaf of soft Italian or French bread (not a baguette), sliced in half longways
7 oz. thinly sliced Black Forest ham
5 oz. thinly sliced garlic (German) bologna
2 oz. thinly sliced hard salami
6-8 slices each of provolone, American and Swiss cheese
2 large, ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded or sliced in ribbons
Your favorite Italian dressing, about 1/4 cup or enough to spread across the top of the French bread
Freshly ground pepper
Large wooden picks (optional)
Gather all ingredients and place the bread on a cutting board. Starting with the ham, add a layer of meat, then alternate with a layer of cheese, overlapping the slices in each layer. Then scatter a layer of red onions, followed by the tomatoes. Add a liberal amount of freshly ground pepper, then the lettuce. Sprinkle a generous amount of the Italian dressing on the second half of the bread, then position it atop the sandwich. If you’re serving the U-Boat as an appetizer, use the picks to secure it in sections, about 1 1/2 inches apart. If it is a main course, cut the U-Boat in quarters.
Where did the name U-Boat come from? The Original Italian U-Boat was a successful submarine sandwich restaurant in Chicago that swelled from a single location in 1975 to 32 stores in its heyday, only to file for bankruptcy and close during the recession in 1983. Chicagoans remember it fondly, according to this article. There isn’t a recipe for their U-Boat Sub online, although it may exist in someone’s attic. The Grill-Meister’s U-Boat is similar to recipes for an Italian Sub, although it has a German spin with the Black Forest ham and garlic bologna.
I first tasted Chipotle Chicken Salad on a multi-family road trip to the Rio Frio area of West Texas. It was a marvelous concoction by my friend Theresa on her day to make lunch for the crowd. I never got her recipe, and she is cooking with the angels now. I miss her every day. But I devised my own recipe based on that taste memory, and it’s pretty darn good. It’s also very easy, and quick. I made it recently as an appetizer for a football-watching party and aw, shucks, there was abundant praise. This recipe is as foodie-worthy as it is appropriate for a tailgate party. Hmmm, there’s a big game coming up…
Chipotle Chicken Salad
3 cups cooked chicken, white and dark meat, skin off, roughly chopped (one regular-sized rotisserie chicken should yield about 3 cups when deboned)
1/2 cup diced onion (red, white or yellow based on your preference or mood)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 cup jalapeño jack or jalapeño cheddar cheese
1 minced chipotle chile and 1 1/2 tbsp. of the adobo sauce (from a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 can of mild green chiles (4 oz.)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ancho chile pepper (ground)
bread, rolls or crackers for serving, or you can put it on a bed of mixed greens
pepper jelly spread (optional), if you make little slider sandwiches
chopped cilantro for garnishing
Combine the chicken, onion, cilantro and cheese in a medium bowl and toss. In a small bowl, mix the chipotle and adobo sauce, yogurt, mayonnaise, green chiles, salt and ancho chile powder, then pour over the chicken combination. Stir well to mix, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary. You can also add more mayo or yogurt if the mixture is too dry.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with crackers, slider rolls or on a bed of mixed greens. Pepper jelly is a great condiment; I like the Inferno Sauce from Just Pure Flavors, a regular at our local farmers’ market.
About the Ingredients
I use a rotisserie chicken for this recipe, both the white and dark meat, which provides a broader range of taste and texture than just using chicken breast.
I go back and forth between using red, white or yellow onions – they are all good for their own reasons. Red onions are apropos in Southwest dishes, and pretty. Yellow onions are sweet and mellow. White onions are crunchy, sharper and more pungent. It’s all dependent upon your onion mood.
The Greek yogurt really gives the chicken salad a tart and tangy taste, while the mayo provides a sweet creaminess. I like using them together for the balance. You can use nonfat yogurt and light mayonnaise without impacting the taste, in my humble opinion.
If you have never used chipotle chies, it’s easy. Just pop open the can and use the amount you need, saving the rest for later. For this recipe, fish out a whole chipotle pepper, then mush your measuring spoon in the adobo sauce to get the 1 1/2 tbsp. you need.
I like McCormick’s Ancho Chile Pepper for the dried spice-it-up kick. If you can’t find it, cayenne will do, but it won’t be as multidimensional, taste-wise.
As the “delivery device” for serving the Chipotle Chicken Salad, I used King’s Hawaiian Rolls this time, both jalapeño and regular-flavored, and of course the jalapeño ones went first – bring on the spice! The slider-sized sandwiches are just right for a hearty party like the football-watching event we attended.
Wheat Thins or water crackers are also a great delivery device, more appropriate for snacking or an appetizer for a cocktail party.
I’ve blogged before about the Grill-Meister’s smoked salmon. It is amazingly good. He makes it for all major holidays and any time we have a party; I think there would be a revolt if the smoked salmon was not on the appetizer menu at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is expected. (Did I say it’s amazingly good?)
My Sister-by-Choice sent me a text last month that got me to thinking that the Grill-Meister needs to start making a double batch: “Not that there’s ever any leftover smoked salmon that Tom makes, and it’s delicious by itself, but saw this in the Bon Appétit Thanksgiving edition magazine and thought of you.” She attached a picture of this recipe from Bon Appétit: Smoked Salmon 7-Layer Dip.
Yum! I didn’t have to twist the Grill-Meister’s arm to get him to double up on the salmon, and the dip was as good as it looked. The double batch thing will be permanent.
Served with Belgian endive and little toasts, this 7-layer dip is very festive and just right for a holiday or cocktail party. Thanks for the tip, Sister-by-Choice! What else ya got?
I published the Grill-Meister’s smoked salmon recipe and process as a gift to all cooks who have a smoker or want a reason to buy one. Find it here: Tom’s Smoked Salmon .
I was inspired to make a rosemary wreath by another blogger (see yesterday’s post) and it worked! It is a lovely way to dress up the old standby party dish of cheese, salami and olives. I decorated the wreath with marinated piquant Peppadew peppers, but cherry or grape tomatoes would work just as well.
Here’s how to do it. You’ll need to have access to a large a rosemary plant.
Snip about 30 sprigs of rosemary, one inch long or less. Remove the side sprigs so that each length of rosemary is only one stem. Lay the longer sprigs in a circle on a round platter and secure with florist’s wire. Tuck the shorter ones in around the circle to even out the wreath.
Rosemary wreath (see above)
9 marinated cherry peppers, cut in half sideways
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
8 oz. of your favorite white cheese, cut into cubes (I used Havarti dill)
8 oz. sliced salami
Place a small container with toothpicks in the middle of the platter, then surround it with salami slices inside the wreath area. Arrange the peppers in groups of three on the wreath to resemble holly berries, then add the cheese cubes to the wreath. Scatter the Kalamata olives across the whole platter.
Below is the original wreath from Home is Where the Boat is, shared by Sara from Last Night’s Feast.
Did You Know…?
Sweet piquant peppers called Peppadew are originally from South Africa and were discovered in the early 1990s. Peppadew is a trademarked name and the peppers can be a little hard to find. Bon Appetite published a recipe with them a few years ago and got loads of letters from disgruntled readers looking to make their Pimento Mac & Cheese, so they followed up with the article Where to Buy the Elusive Peppadew.
Peppadew peppers resemble (but are not the same as) cherry peppers, which is another name for pimento peppers. Pimentos resemble (but are not the same as) red bell peppers.
Any of these wonderful peppers can be used in this recipe.