The inspiration for this recipe was a Christmas present, the salmon being the ‘parcel’ and the cucumber strips the ‘ribbons’. Quite rich and very spoily, it made the perfect starter to our Christmas Day feast, and was terribly simple to make too, allowing for optimum present opening time. None of the flavours overpower the salmon, instead complimenting one another, and it looks suitably celebratory on the plate. With Valentine’s Day coming up there really is no excuse not to make this starter, perhaps in heart shaped moulds.
700g high quality smoked salmon slices
300g creme fraiche
100g cream cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped fennel
1tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
fresh dill, finely chopped, plus sprigs to decorate
1 lemon, cut into quarters
olive oil, to grease the ramekins
5 slices of white bread
1 cucumber, peeled into ribbons
- Whizz 200g smoked salmon in a food processor briefly, so that it remains bitty and hasn’t turned to mush. Add the creme fraiche, cream cheese, and whizz briefly again.
- Put into a bowl and add the fennel, sugar, lemon juice, chopped dill (to taste), salt and pepper.
- Grease 6 ramekins (which can hold about 100ml of water) with the oil, then line with the remaining salmon.
- Spoon in the mixture, and then seal by turning over the edges of the salmon, and adding a further piece to ensure there are no gaps.
- Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight.
- To serve, turn out on to plates (they should come out with a little coaxing using a knife), and surround with the cucumber ribbons. Add a dill garnish to the top, and scatter around, and add the lemon quarters. Serve with the melba toasts.
To make the melba toast, toast sliced bread in a toaster, then when it pops up immediately slice the toast again and cut off the crusts. Place in the oven, middle, non toasted side up, and leave until the toast starts to curl and brown. This will take about half an hour, but keep an eye on it!! Carefully remove, and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.