Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thanks For All The Fish

Maybe I've been reading too much Douglas Adams. I look at that photo and have this overwhelming urge to say, "Thanks for all the fish!"

Nah. One cannot possibly read too much Douglas Adams. But I do thank ol' Poseidon for the gift of salmon, a key ingredient in the above. Just for the record, said above is Baked Potato Stuffed with Smoked Salmon Souffle. As you will see, there have been some slight variations in the core recipe but that only proves the basic premise is a highly flexible one. I'm going to give you the recipe as I found it on the everlovin' web, then I'll tell you how I tweaked it.

You'll need:

4 large baking potatoes
Sea salt flakes
3 ounces smoked salmon, cut into strips
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter, diced
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, separated
Salt and freshly ground pepper.

1. Wash potatoes, dry, prick with fork or knife. Oil skin and sprinkle with sea salt.
2. Bake in 400 degree oven (205 C) for about 1 hour. Remove when done and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees (175 C).
3. In a bowl, combine salmon, chives, capers and sun-dried tomatoes and set aside.
4. While potatoes are still hot, cut off a 1/2 inch slice lengthwise and reserve those slices for another purpose. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh of the potatoes, leaving about a 1/4 inch shell. Push the scooped out flesh through a potato ricer, food mill, or sieve into a large bowl.
5. Place potato shells on a cookie sheet.
6. Add butter to the potato and mix well.
7. Heat milk to just below boiling, then beat into potato mixture. Beat the egg yolks and add to the potato mixture, blending well. Stir in the salmon mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold in a third of the whites to loosen the mixture, then gently fold in the rest.
9. Spoon the mixture into the potato shells, heaping the tops. Bake on cookie sheet in oven for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly risen and lightly browned on top.

Okay. Here's how I messed with it. First, I only had two bakers. I didn't have any smoked salmon but I had a 6-ounce can of salmon and some dry smoke seasoning. (If you have honest-to-goodness smoked salmon, for goodness sakes, USE it. Ain't nothing better!) I drained the salmon and dropped it in a bowl, sprinkled it with the smoke seasoning and forked it around a bit.

Didn't have any capers, either. I never have capers. But I'm told gherkins are a fine substitute. Didn't have any gherkins. (Insert shrug.) But I had some sandwich-sliced dill pickles so I grabbed one slice and minced it up good.

My "sun-dried" tomatoes were what I dehydrated and weren't stored in oil. Not a problem. I diced some up and rehydrated them with a bit of boiling water, then added them to the salmon.

Didn't have any fresh chives. (Do you see a pattern developing here?) But I have some great Vidalia sweets. Diced up about a quarter of one and threw it in the mix.

I had completely forgotten to eat today so my tummy was giving me fourteen kinds of nag-nag-nag. That's why I shaved about 45 minutes off the prep time by baking the spuds in the microwave. They really are better if done in the oven, though. I'm just saying ...

That stuff about running the potato flesh through a ricer or whatever is a hound that doesn't hunt in this house. I plopped in a lump of butter and had at the mess with my immersion blender. Zap! Zap! Perfectly smooth mashed spud. Didn't do the milk bit as per the recipe. I happen to have some New Zealand mayo (more about that later) so I spooned in an appropriate amount and hit it with the blender again. Added the egg yolk (since I only had the two potatoes, I only used one egg) and whipped it up good. Then the egg white went in and, just for laughs and giggles, I sprinkled in some of my beloved Mrs. Dash Southwestern Chipotle seasoning.

Into the oven for 20 minutes and -- be still my heart -- my dinner was perfectly done. Several dinners, in fact. As hungry as I was, there is still a hefty third of one potato left. That will be my midnight snack. The other one may or may not be consumed tomorrow. I might freeze it for later.

The slabs I set aside? That'll be perfect for football munching tomorrow. First I'll slather on some of that New Zealand mayo, then sprinkle on some of my McCormick's Dilly seasoning with onion, garlic, dill and lemon. On top of that I'll sprinkle shredded cheddar and on top of that I'll sprinkle some chipotle. Into the oven for a slow broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly and I'm ready for some football!

The New Zealand mayo? That's a teaser. I'll 'splain about it tomorrow, somewhere between football games.


John Bailey said...

That sounds like one of my recipes, Dee, where you take a starter from the book, match it best you can with the contents of the store cupboard, and wing it with a large glass of something nice and a little prayer. Never really fails!

While I'm here, on the subject of mashing potatoes, I use one of those hand masher things. Well, two of them, actually. T'other day both of them were in the dishwasher when the need came up so I rummaged in the drawer and came up with the old heavy EPNS table fork, all battered and worn, that my mother used to use for the job. The lady deserved a medal for the hard work. I deserve a medal for rediscovering the taste of true British mashed potato, lumps and all. :-)

Dee said...

Good ON you, John! I have never understood the compulsion for lumpless mashed potatoes, my own self. Lumps give the potatoes texture and character and something solid for your mouth to acknowledge. Let's raise a glass to the worth of honest lumps! And, by the way, another glass for your sainted mother. (smile)

Mage And George said...

You just left me, gherkins or dills aren't replacements for capers. LOL Then again, in the end, who cares. I'm sure you didn't. I have one where you use baked potatoes, zuchini, little green onions...both minced smush together with sour cream and butter. Top with grated cheddar and baked again. :) Dave's twice baked potatoes.