A simple, elegant lunch...


The Motley Monk is no "fan" of smoked salmon, although he rates it way above calves' liver and onions on his list of "edibles."  The later is right near the bottom of the list, one place above "Rocky Mountain Oysters."

Last week, some friends sent a package of smoked sockeye salmon to The Motley Monk from Washington state.  Lots of ideas about what to do with the salmon passed through The Motley Monk's mind, including the notion of "re-gifting."  But, The Motley Monk doesn't do that (it's perpetrating a fraud) plus The Motley Monk has had smoked salmon as an hors d'oeuvre in the past and enjoyed it.  The Motley Monk has also served a smoked salmon pâté as an hors d'oeuvre at HIH II.

"So," The Motley Monk wondered, "what am I going to do with this?"

It just so happened that Ina Garten, The Barefoot Countessa on The Food Channel, was preparing dinner for her husband, Jeffrey, on that day's program.  Ina mentioned in passing how much she enjoys keeping meals simple when Jeffrey isn't home and how she planned to use the leftover smoked salmon from this evening's dinner with Jeffrey: bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon.


That sounded pretty good and provided the basis for a plan.  But, The Motley Monk likes food that tastes good to him, not necessarily someone else, even if that person is Ina Garten.

"So, knowing that cream cheese goes well with smoked salmon," The Motley Monk wondered, "how should I use this salmon?"

First, conduct a little research.

The Motley Monk soon discovered that there are many different varieties of smoked salmon.  The Norwegian style smoked salmon that The Motley Monk is familiar with is pinkish in color and "lighter" in flavor.  In contrast, the smoked salmon from Washington state sitting on the countertop was much darker in color and seemed "heavier" in flavor judging from the juices.  The difference?  The wood and amount time used to smoke the salmon.  The sockeye salmon The Motley Monk received was smoked in hickory wood, much the way bacon is smoked.

Okay.  So, this salmon is darker in color and heavier in flavor.

Second, mellow out the heavy flavor of the salmon.  This is where Ina Garten's idea of keeping things simple made great sense.  Yes, use Philadelphia cream cheese...and plenty of it.

But, that is "too plain" for The Motley Monk.

Hickory-smoked sockeye salmon and Philadelphia cream cheese needs a "base" of flavor and some "zip" added.  Ina Garten's idea of bagels (too soft and mushy, although toasting them might be an improvement) or crackers (too plain, even if flavored, and they tend to break in The Motley Monk's hands) didn't help.

Third, The Motley Monk's homemade Bavarian pumpernickel bread!  Spreading the Philadelphia cream cheese on top of a slice of Bavarian pumpernickel bread and sprinkling small pieces of the hickory-smoked sockeye salmon on it seemed to fit the bill.

But, what about flavor?

Fourth, some fresh cracked pepper, yes.  And, how about some fresh dill?  Excellent!

To wash down this simple, elegant lunch?  A good glass of good, oakey, leftover Chardonnay from last night's dinner.



How does lunch get more simple and elegant?



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