Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Classy and Simple Hors d’Oeuvre

Wouldn’t you say that one of the highlights of a great party is delicious hors d’oeuvres? And think about it: which course do you remember most vividly of the more memorable meals you have eaten? Chances are it’s the first course. And there’s a good reason for this: we have hors d’oeuvres and appetizers when we are the hungriest and anticipating a good meal the most. Our mouths are watering for something to surprise and delight our taste buds. Usually, we don’t feel full after a few hors d’oeuvres or an appetizer, so we are left wanting more, and having the highest perception of what we just ate. Appetizers and hors d’oeuvres were a major topic in my Garde Manger class (remember that?) this quarter, so they also played a major role in our final practical exam, where we had to create twelve identical appetizers, one appetizer large enough for two people to share, and one composed salad. I’m happy with what I did for all three components of the assessment, but I think my most creative choice was what I did for my hors d’oeuvre, so I’m going to share that recipe with you. With the holiday season coming, these are a great option of something to bring to a party!

First, I can’t help but show off the rest of my exam. My composed salad was a Crab and Avocado Timbale with Crème Fraîche and Red and Yellow Pepper Coulis:

I was very happy with my timbale, but my coulis did not come out the way I wanted at all. I will definitely be doing a post on making a coulis so that I can work on that skill!

For my appetizer, I made Chicken Satay and a Petit Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette:

Everything came out quite well, though I should have used a smaller bowl for my satay sauce. I could have made the plating a little nicer as well. Plating is not my strong point.

As for my hors d’oeuvres, I made Mini Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche. The idea is not completely original—it has definitely been done before, but I like the use of the latke as a base rather than the expected bread or cracker.

These are very simple to produce. The quantities I give will give you around 30 hors d’oeuvres, so go ahead and adjust as needed. Whisk together two eggs, ½ cup flour, a teaspoon of Kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Then, stir in the white parts of two chopped scallions, and two medium russet potatoes, peeled and grated. This is your latke batter.

To fry the latkes, pour about two tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil in a medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Remember, you’re making mini-latkes, so take just a teaspoon of batter for each latke: Place the batter into the hot oil and flatten it slightly with the back of a spoon. Repeat about four times without over-crowding the pan and continue to cook in batches. Let these sizzle away for about two minutes per side. They should be golden brown when you flip them over.
When you take them out of the pan, let them drain on paper towels and sprinkle them with a tiny bit of Kosher salt. Keep them warm in a 200 F oven until all the latkes are made.
To assemble the hors d’oeuvres, start with your lovely golden latkes:
Drop about a half teaspoon of crème fraîche on each latke, and spread it slightly with the back of a spoon.
Next, place a thin slice of smoked salmon, about 2 inches or 5 centimeters long on top of the crème fraîche. Roll or fold it gently so it fits.

Finally, top with a chive spear.
That’s about all there is to it! Now, you have a classy and simple hors d’oeuvre that almost anyone will love, anyone who likes salmon. Well, anyone who likes salmon and crème fraîche. OK, anyone who likes salmon, crème fraîche, and potatoes latkes. Hopefully, that's a lot of people.Now, don’t go away just yet. If you’re interested, these are a couple of notes that my instructor gave me to improve these:

• To make the latkes look cleaner and be a more uniform size, use a small, round cookie cutter or ring mold to shape the latkes in the pan. Personally, I like the rustic look of the grated potato sticking out around the size of the latkes, but using a mold will definitely give you a sleeker look.
• To help hold the chive garnish in place, and to add more color contrast, place a small dot of crème fraîche on top of the smoked salmon before topping the hors d’oeuvre with the chive.
Have fun with these!


  1. This looks amazing Jess. I also checked out your gravlax explination and I didn't realise how easy it was. I'm for sure going to try it sometime

  2. This is crazy, but what did i do in school the week after i commented on this? Made Gravlax! haha and i knew how to do it because i had just read this!!!

  3. ( That was From Heather by the Way