Category / Starters

Starters

Smoked Salmon Terrines

The Christmas holidays are near and considering the composition of a festive menu I am relying on inspiration from the December Christmas edition of the Delicious Magazine. Isn’t it amazing that just for a few Euro one could get the best recommendations of the famous chefs and relax and plan in advance all that is needed for preparing a delicious dinner? I must admit, fully trusting the description of a recipe without a trial test remains a rather risky affair. What if the flavours of the dish are not quite to our taste? What if the recipe seemingly easy requires special skills and demands the execution of advanced culinary techniques way beyond our average capabilities? What if adding dish one and dish two to a three course festive menu simply doesn’t work? Throwing all hesitation away I simply choose to trust my instinct, trust the professional chefs composing every dish and let the culinary magic happen.

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For this year’s Christmas Eve, I have selected two of the courses from the Delicious Magazine edition. The starter is a Smoked Salmon Terrine served with thin slices of toasted baguettes. The recipe seems extremely easy to follow and executed 48 hours in advance, this dish really reduces the Christmas cooking stress to a bare minimum. The original recipe is designed to be made as one terrine to serve slices for more then ten people, however I am adapting it to serve in individual small terrines instead. The taste turns out to be amazing, soft smoked salmon with a burst of quick pickled celery to cut through the creamy richness inside. A special recipe that everyone should have in their repertoire.

 

Ingredients

For the Salmon Terrine
  • Sunflower oil for greasing
  • 500-600g sliced smoked salmon
  • 200g tub crème fraîche
  • 2 x 280g tubs full fat cream cheese (we like Philadelphia)
  • Finely grated zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 11⁄2 tbsp grated horseradish from a jar
  • 2 fillets (about 200g) hot-smoked salmon
  • 1⁄2 bunch chives, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch dill, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp pink peppercorns, lightly bashed in a pestle and mortar
For the Pickled Celery
  • 30ml cider vinegar
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 4 large celery sticks, chopped
  • Redcurrant berries and toasted baguette slices to serve (optional)

 

Method

1. For the quick-pickled celery, mix the vinegar and sugar in a glass or ceramic bowl, add 2 large pinches of salt and the celery, toss well, then set aside for 1 hour.

2. Grease, then neatly line 3 individual tins with cling film leaving lots of overhang (you may need 2 pieces). Neatly cover the base of the tins with smoked salmon slices. This will be the top when it’s turned out. Line the sides of the tins with more slices of smoked salmon, overlapping slightly, so they overhang the sides – don’t leave gaps. Reserve the rest of the salmon slices for the bottom of the finished terrines.

3. Whizz the crème fraîche and cream cheese in a food processor with the lemon zest and juice, horseradish and one of the hot- smoked salmon fillets. Season well with pepper and a little salt.

4. Add the herbs, spring onions and pink peppercorns to the creamy mixture, then flake in the remaining hot-smoked salmon fillet and mix with a wooden spoon.

5. Spread one third of the cream cheese mix into the tin, then sprinkle over half the pickled celery, drained of the liquid. Spread another third of the mixture over the top, followed by the remaining celery. Top with the remaining mixture.

6. Lay the rest of the salmon slices on the top, then neatly fold over the overhanging salmon.

7. Cover with the overhanging cling film to enclose. Transfer to the fridge overnight.

8. Take the terrines out of the fridge 10 minutes before serving, unwrap the cling film, then carefully invert onto a platter. Serve with redcurrant berries and toasted baguette slices.

Starters

Asparagus in Egg & Butter Sauce

Pale and delicate the asparagus is not precisely everybody’s cup of tea. Still, adored by many and avoided by a few, it could hardly make its presence unnoticed when its early April and the Easter holidays are only a few days away. It is such an iconic ingredient of the Belgian Easter festivities. Whether subtly flavouring a delicious cream soup, warm fresh vegetable salad or a salmon meal, the asparagus always leaves a lasting impression. Even more so in this simple variation of boiled asparagus in egg and butter sauce.

 

Ingredients

  • 25 asparagus
  • 3 tbsp of melted butter
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp minced parsley
  • salt and pepper

 

Method

1. Trim the outer skin of the asparagus.

2. Boil them for at least 45 min in plenty of water in a deep pot over a medium heat.

3. Boil the eggs and let them cool a little.

4. Melt the butter and mix it together with the boiled eggs, crushing them with a fork and seasoning with the lemon juice, minced parsley, salt and pepper.

5. Drain the water from the asparagus, arrange in a dish and serve generously spooning over the egg and butter sauce.

 

Starters

Melon Prosciutto Rocket Salad

Easter Sunday Lunch. What a delight to share this moment with close family and friends. I could still hear the teasing and the laughter, taste the flavour of the mouth watering melon and prosciutto we have sampled as a starter.

Following tradition, I have originally intended to start the menu with white asparagus in egg and butter sauce, but after having asparagus two times this week already my family vetoed the dish out of the Easter menu. And who could blame them, when I have found such a simple, yet adorably delicious last minute substitute?

This melon, parmesan and prosciutto rocket salad could be served at any occasion starting as from late spring until the late summer months. Sunny sky, chilled white wine, lovely company in a secluded flower garden or near the edge of sparkling blue swimming pool, this is a dish to add joy no matter the mood or the setting.

 

Ingredients

(serves 6 people)
  • melons, such as honeydew, seeds removed and each cut into 9 wedges
  • 18 fine slices of prosciutto ham
  • 100g rocket salad
  • 200g parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

 

Method

1. Cut the melon in thin slices. Arrange them on a serving plate together with the prosciutto ham then sprinkle over the rocket leaves.

2. Using a potato peeler, shave the parmesan cheese over the melon and the rocket salad.

3. Mix together the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar and drizzle over the dish.

4. Serve with chilled rose or while wine.

 

Starters

Parma Ham & Mustard canapés

I believe I have first seen these delicious Parma Ham & Mustard puff pastry canapés on a TV program presented by Delia Smith. I distinctly recall her mentioning them to be the favourite ones of her husband and that even before she takes them out of the oven tray they are quickly despairing devoured by her family.

Well, now I absolutely believe this may be true. These canapés are simply so delicious that hardly anyone could resist their smell. I have prepared them twice already, last year for our New Year and this year for my birthday anniversary and they turn out to be always a success.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 puff pastry roll
  • 90g Italian Parma Ham
  • 50g mustard
  • 50g rasped parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg yolk for brushing

 

Method

1. Unroll the puff pastry and let it rest for 20min in room temperature.

2. Evenly spread a thick layer of mustard on top of the puff pastry

3. Lay a baking tray with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 200C.

4. Cover half of the pastry disk with Parma Ham. Flip over the other half of the disk on top of the Parma Ham half and press to seal the edges. Cut the pastry on one centimetre thick ribbons. Take each ribbon, twist the two ends several times and lay it onto the baking tray.

5. Brush the twisted ribbons with egg yolk and generously sprinkle with rasped parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 min until golden brown. Serve warm.

 

Starters

Brie & Apple Chutney canapés

Delicious, fast and easy to make party canapés.

No cooking required. End-to-end work for no more than half an hour.

Could life be any easier?

My inspiration for these canapés came from a similar recipe I have noticed by a fellow blogger Adam Dolge.

In his recipe blog website Peppered Salt he describes how to make these delicious canapés using home made peach chutney instead.

I am sure that any fruit chutney: mango, apple or peach will work perfectly well for this brie canapé recipe.

Ingredients

  • Apple chutney
  • 250g Brie
  • 1 French baguette
  • a handful of fresh chives (or thyme) for decoration
  • 1 tsp of butter

 

Method

Cut the French baguette into thin rolls.

Melt the butter in a cooking pan and lay the baguette rolls  (one side only) to bake for a few minutes until golden.

Take the bread roll out of the pan and arrange on the serving tray.

Top with a thin slice of brie and a tea spoon of apple chutney.

Decorate with chives or other fresh herbs to taste.

 

Starters

Red Pesto & Salami canapés

There is a tradition in our family to start special occasion parties with Champaign and small samples of delicious canapés. Every year the question is the same, do I prepare something new or do I rely on the well tested delicious examples made through the previous festive occasions. This year, inspired by the New Year celebrations I have decided to carry on the seasonal theme during my birthday party by preparing these delicious puff pastry red pesto & salami snowflake canapés. They have turned out to be quite delicious and I will definitely try them again. A perfect accompaniment to my favourite Duval-Leroy Brut Rosé Champaign.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 puff pastry roll
  • 50g dried red tomato pesto (Bertolli Pesto Rosso)
  • 12 thinly sliced salami disks (disk no larger than a teaspoon)
  • 12 tsp of rasped parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg yolk for brushing

 

Method

1. Unroll the puff pastry and let it rest for 20min in room temperature.

2. Select two snowflake cookie cutters, one larger and one smaller form. Lightly press the large and the smaller cookie forms on the puff pastry to measure how many canapés you will be able to make out of the puff pastry disk. With the size of my cookie cutters I was able to cut 12 larger snowflakes and 12 smaller from the puff pastry.

3. Lay a baking tray with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 200C. Cut first the larger snowflakes and lay them on the baking tray. Spoon half teaspoon of red pesto in the centre or each snowflake and top with a salami disk. Cut the smaller snowflakes from the puff pastry and lay them one after another on top of the salami in the centre of the larger snowflakes. Brush the smaller snowflakes with egg yolk and generously sprinkle rasped parmesan cheese over the canapés. Bake for 15 min until golden brown. Serve warm.

 

Starters

Parma ham canapés

Christmas season and TV, could there be any more special time for discovering delicious recipes and getting inspired for cooking? Yes, I admit, I am a good quality BBC TV cooking program addict. So much so, that I am not watching alone, by husband is right next to me. We watch, we comment… and then I try a recipe or two at home and we taste and we smile. My love for cooking is growing in such proportions that my husband has secretly taken the train a few days ago, travelled to Brussels visiting the Waterstones just to buy me Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood recipe books for a Christmas present, and I couldn’t have been more happy.

I have watched Mary Berry present these delicious Parma ham, goats’ cheese and rocket salad canapés on TV before Christmas and I new instantly that I will try them for one our family celebrations. They turned out to be a huge success, easy to make, no cooking required, yet absolutely delicious and a perfect accompaniment for champaign.

 

Ingredients

  • 8 slices Parma ham
  • 8-10 tsp soft goats’ cheese
  • 1 x 70g/2½oz bag rocket
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cucumber dill spears, each spear cut in half lengthways

 

Method

1. Lay each piece of Parma ham on a board, cut off any surplus fat and discard.

2. Spread a good teaspoon of goats’ cheese over the end quarter. Season with salt and pepper. Take a small handful of rocket and lay on top, leaving some of the rocket sticking out of the ends. Lay one piece of cucumber on top.

3. Roll the Parma ham up into a cigar shape and transfer to the fridge until needed.

4. Slice each roll in half and arrange standing up on the cut side on a serving platter. Serve cold.

 

Starters

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

I love these Vietnamese spring rolls!

They are low on calories, a perfect excuse to be made any day. I love serving them as an refreshing appetiser for any Asian-inspired meal or simply to prepare them for myself as a light lunch for a busy working day.

Whatever the occasion they are so tasty, light and easy to make that you should simply give it a try!

 

Ingredients

For 10 spring rolls
  • 10 rice papper disks
  • 1 tbsp rasped lemongrass
  • 2 garlic cloves (thinly chopped)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 200g beef (cut in thin slices)
  • 10 lettuce salad leaves
  • 10 thinly cut slices of cucumber
  • 10 thinly cut slices of carrots
  • 10 thinly cut slices of red cabbage
  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 10 fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 10 fresh coriander leaves
  • A handful of Vietnamese noodles
For the dip sauce
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic (thinly chopped)
  • 1 tsp sweet red paprika (thinly chopped)

 

Method

For the rolls: Mix together in a bawl the slices of beef meat, the rasped lemongrass, the sesame seeds, the garlic, the fish sauce, oil, sugar and salt. Heat a little oil in a cooking pan and add the beef mixture cooking quickly on high heat.

Set a handful of Vietnamese noodles in a hot water and let them rest of 3 minutes. Take them out of the water and let them rest in a bawl.

Boil one litter of water and pour it in a deep bawl. Dip the sides of the rice paper in the hot water, rotating the disc in such a way that it is not dry any more and every inch has been dipped in the warm water. Lay the rice paper on a flat surface. In the centre of the disc lay first the salad leave, then a spoon of the cooked beef, a few strings of the Vietnamese noodles, the carrot, cucumber and red cabbage sticks, and top with the fresh mint, Thai basil and coriander leaves. Fold each side of the rice paper disk wrapping the feeling in a parcel roll. Cut the roll in the middle to expose the colourful filling inside and arrange nicely on a tray.

For the dip sauce: In a deep bawl add together the lime juice and the sugar, mixing until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the fish sauce, garlic and sweet paprika and mix well until all flavours are incorporated.