Category Archives: Fish-Seafood Dishes

St. Patrick’s Day Menu Ideas – Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté on Irish Brown Bread

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté on Irish Brown Bread

In my last post with the giveaway for “Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries,” I mentioned that for my culinary school menu project that was due last month I had created a menu for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party.  My family emigrated from Ireland on both sides, but long enough ago that there’s no culinary heritage that has been passed down to my generation, unless you count a fondness for potatoes and pork products.  My goal was to explore the tastes and dishes usually associated with this country and to create an alterna-dinner party for this holiday: one that does not revolve around Corned Beef and Cabbage, which is not the Irish national dish.

Irish Brown Bread

Fortunately, I have many friends who were willing to come over during the recent showing of Downton Abbey‘s third season here in the U.S. to sample my recipe experiments so that I could get my project done.  This is an appetizer that I created that seemed to be a huge hit with everyone.  Hearty, nutty Irish Brown Bread is a staple in many household kitchens. Here, it is served with a smoky, creamy trout pâté, a nod to the resources of Ireland’s rivers, with a bite from the heat of the horseradish and lift of freshness from the lemon zest and the parsley.  It’s the perfect nibble to go with a glass of good cheer!

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté on Irish Brown Bread

Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours, including baking time for bread

Serving Size: Makes approximately 24 portions (3 pieces per person for 8 people)


For the Irish Brown Bread:
(Recipe adapted from
1 3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour, preferably stone ground (the coarser, the better – I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 tablespoons cold Unsalted Butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats, finely ground
3/4 cup Buttermilk

For the Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté:
4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons Crème Fraîche
4 teaspoons prepared Horseradish
2 teaspoons Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
Grated zest of one Lemon
1/4-1/3 pound Smoked Trout


Irish Brown Bread:

To make the Irish Brown Bread, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter bottom and sides of a mini loaf pan (5 1/2 x 3 inches).  Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.  Add the butter into the flour mixture by using a fork or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles small pebbles, and the butter is blended in thoroughly.  Add the ground oatmeal and toss to combine completely. Stir in the buttermilk. The mixture will be sticky but all the dry ingredients should come together.

Dough mixed together

Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead it several times. Shape dough into a small loaf and place in the loaf pan. Bake bread for about 30 minutes, until knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out cleanly. Cool on a wire rack. (The bread can be made a day ahead, but should be toasted the day it is being served.)

Bread baked and cooling

About 30 minutes prior to serving the appetizers, preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the loaf of bread into 12 slices. Then, cut those slices in half diagonally to make triangle-shaped pieces.  Place bread triangles on an ungreased baking sheet on parchment paper and put them in the oven to toast. Do not allow the bread to take on any color. When the first side is lightly toasted, turn over and toast the second side. Remove toasted bread triangles from the oven when done and allow them to cool while making the Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté.

Toasted Irish Brown Bread

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté:

To make the Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté, mix together the cream cheese, crème fraîche, and prepared horseradish until smooth with no lumps of cream cheese. Fold in parsley, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Hold back about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon of parsley for garnish.

Mixing in everything but the trout

Break the smoked trout into pieces, some large and some smaller. Go through the trout to make sure that there are no bones.  Gently fold in the smoked trout. There should still be some small and large pieces of fish visible in the mixture. This is a rough, chunky spread rather than a smooth one.

Break up Smoked Trout into pieces

To serve:

Place toasted bread pieces on a serving platter. Top each triangle with a spoonful of the smoked trout mixture. Sprinkle each piece with a little bit of chopped parsley and the reserved lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté on Irish Brown Bread


Lent 2013 Kick-off – Meat-free Meals

Fab-u-lous Dahlin!Easter Bonnet – 5th Avenue NYC 2012

Today is Ash Wednesday.  Lent starts today, so scenes like this one from last year’s annual Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City are still a few weeks away.  As I mentioned last year, it’s also the start of “Oops!  What am I going to fix on Fridays now that I can’t have meat” and the annual menu re-programming phase.  Hopefully, you haven’t already blown it, like I did, by eating meat this morning at breakfast.  In looking through my recipes over the past year, I realized that I’ve added a few new ideas to my files which I’m sharing with you to round out your Lenten menu planning.



Ricotta-Stuffed Pasta Shells with Savory Tomato Sauce – a family favorite and so easy to whip together





Now that you’ve got a batch of homemade tomato sauce on hand, why not use it to make Eggs Cooked in Spicy Tomato Sauce – add steamed vegetables or salad to make a complete dinner





You could also really spice up a Friday night dinner with these Beer-batter Fried Fish Tacos with Kimchi and Guacamole






Or warm up the evening with some comforting Wild Mushroom Risotto (just be sure to use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock)





Pizza will make it on the menu at some point, so why not try Make-it-yourself pizzas using Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe




You can also see my post “Ack, it’s Lent – Recipes for Meat-free Fridays” for additional ideas on how to get dinner on the table while observing the season.  Hopefully, these recipes will help you and your family to break up the tune casserole / macaroni and cheese / take-out pizza / fish sticks ‘n tater tots rotation for Lenten Fridays.

Buon appetito!

Beer-Batter Fried Fish Tacos with Kimchi and Guacamole

1- Fried Fish-Kimchi-Guacamole TacoBeer-batter fried Fish Taco with Kimchi and Guacamole

After taking the Culinary Techniques course at the International Culinary Center, I have been having serious food cravings any meal that is not doused in a rich sauce or steeped in butter or that has the classic French flavor profile.  Looking at the jar of kimchi in my refrigerator from the demo last week with Kheedim of Mama Oh’s Premium Kimchee, my brain decided it was time to try to reverse-engineer the Fish Tacos from ABV (by the owners of Vinyl Wines and Earl’s Beer and Cheese).  Since its opening in January, ABV has become a popular gathering spot for Upper-Upper East Side folks (i.e., those living in the 90s and above) due to its extensive beverage list and unique dishes like the Tartare Pizza and Charred Strawberry Sorbet.


I was completely hooked from the very first bite I had of this dish with all the different layers of tastes and textures.  A slab of delicate, flaky fish surrounded by a hot, crisp crust lies on a base of spicy-sour kimchi and cool, creamy guacamole all held together by a soft, corn tortilla.  It is topped with a last-minute squeeze of lime, an extra sprinkle of cilantro and a few crumbles of queso fresco to give it an extra pop of freshness and tanginess.  This was my initial attempt at making this recipe, and I think I managed to capture most of the elements that appear in the dish at the restaurant.

ABV’s Fish Taco

I’ve marked this down as a Weeknight Supper option, as, with a jar of kimchi on hand, it really doesn’t take that long to pull this meal together.  I know that the ideal spot for eating this is on a beach, cold beverage in hand and ocean breezes wafting by.  Hopefully, that scenario is in your near future, especially with how hot it has been lately, but if it isn’t, at least these tacos might help keep things cool and refreshing.

Beer-Batter Fried Fish Tacos with Kimchi and Guacamole

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Serving Size: 4 appetizer portions (one taco per person) or 2 meal-sized portions (two tacos per person)


1/2 cup Kimchi, chopped

1 Avocado

1/2 Jalapeno pepper, minced

1 Tbsp White Onion, finely chopped

1 Tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped

Zest of 1 Lime

Juice of 1 Lime

1 pinch ground Cumin

1 pinch ground Coriander

1 pinch Black Pepper

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 cup Flour

1 pinch Salt

1/2 cup Beer (doesn’t have to be the highest quality)

1 whole Red Snapper (or other white fish), about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds OR

1 to 1 1/2 pounds Red Snapper fillets

Corn or Sunflower oil for frying

4 large White Corn Tortillas (I used ones from Hot Bread Kitchen)

Queso Fresco

12-16 whole Cilantro leaves

4 Lime wedges



Place the chopped Kimchi in a serving bowl and set it aside until ready to put together the tacos.


Cut open the avocados and remove the pit.  Scoop out the green interior and place it in a bowl.  Mash it with a fork until there are no big chunks.  This version of guacamole should be fairly smooth in texture.  Add chopped jalapeno, onion, cilantro, and lime zest.  Stir to combine.  Pour in lime juice, cumin, coriander, pepper, and salt and mix together thoroughly.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to put together tacos.

Ingredients for Beer Batter

Put 1/2 cup flour into a shallow bowl with a pinch of salt.  While stirring with a whisk, pour in 1/2 cup of beer and mix together until the ingredients are all combined completely and there are no lumps of flour.  It should resemble the batter for thin pancakes.  Let this sit for a few minutes while preparing the fish.

Red Snapper

I chose to use red snapper for this dish, but any white fish that won’t fall apart when fried would work.  I went by the guidelines at the fish counter at Whole Foods, truthfully, as I still find it confusing to figure out which is a “good fish” to buy versus a “bad fish,” environmentally speaking.  Feeling adventurous based upon my exploits in culinary class, I decided to buy a whole one and practice on it.  Needless to say, it is not really possible to take pictures while cutting up a fish, so I’ll have to let you imagine that I did much neater job of this task than was the actual reality.

Red Snapper Fillets

In the end, I had several large pieces.  To test the recipe, I cut a couple of them into long strips and left the others as they were.  I’m still not sure which size I prefer for this dish.  They both fry up really quickly and seem to hold onto their texture while maintaining a nicely crisp exterior coating.

Beer Batter

Put 1/2 inch of Canola or Sunflower oil into a heavy frying pan and turn it to a medium-high heat.  This is a great excuse to pull out the cast iron skillet as it will hold the heat better than other pans, which is why it is often recommended in fried chicken recipes.  While the oil is heating, prepare the fish.  Pour the other 1/2 cup flour onto a plate or into a shallow bowl.  Cover each piece of fish in the flour and shake off the excess.  Dip each piece of fish into the beer batter.  Shake off the excess and put it on a clean plate or cutting board while you check to see if the oil has reached the right temperature for frying.

Frying Fish

Drop a bit of batter into the oil.  If it sizzles immediately and begins to turn golden on contact, it is ready.  Gently place several pieces of fish in the pan, making sure not to crowd them together as they need room to cook.  Fry about 3-4 minutes on the first side, until golden, turn it over and cook another 3 minutes on the second side.  Remove fish from the pan and dry on paper towel.  You may have to cook the fish in a few batches.

Prepping Tacos

Set up the ingredients and begin to construct your tacos.  Begin by slathering some guacamole on a corn tortilla base.  Then spoon some of the chopped kimchi.  Gently lay a piece of the fried fish on top of the kimchi.  Sprinkle a few whole cilantro leaves plus a couple of large pinches of crumbled queso freso on top of the whole thing.  Serve on a large plate, accompanied by lime wedges.  These should be eaten while the fish is still warm to hot so that you get the right balance of hot and cold, crunchy and sour, and creamy and tangy.

Buon appetito!

Ack, it’s Lent – Recipes for Meat-free Fridays

It’s coming soon!

Almost everyone has this story.  You totally forgot it was a Friday during Lent until you realized you had eaten bacon for breakfast or had a chicken sandwich for lunch.  For me, I can eat vegetarian meals any other day of the week and then, on a Friday, I will crave a burger or spaghetti and meatballs like nothing else.  It will tear at my insides.  The next day, however, when I can actually indulge in one of those meals, I end up wanting falafel or something without meat.

You can’t really have pizza for every meal on Fridays

Fortunately, over the years, I have amassed a collection of recipes to help me navigate through the dietary path of observance during this holy season.  They are meat-free or can easily be adapted to be so.  This list should also help to avoid the reliance on the trifecta of fishsticks, tuna casserole, and pizza (English muffin or otherwise), that my folks put us through when we were growing up.


Risotto alla Gorgonzola

Swap out the Chicken Stock for vegetable stock or water.  This is great paired with the Spiced Pecan and Pear Salad




Farro Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Thyme-Roasted Mushrooms

Why not try this paired with a Salad with Balsamic Vinegar-Fig Reduction?  You can use dried figs to make the dressing if you can’t find fresh ones.




No one ever said you couldn’t do breakfast for dinner.  It looks even more elegant with this Smoked Salmon Hash (salad recipe also in the post).





Flounder Florentine with garlic-roasted potatoes.  Not quite fishsticks and tater tots, and probably healthier, too.






Shrimp-Grape-Almond Salad really does serve up as a meal.  If you separate the dressing and the cheese, this would make a great packed lunch.





Sole with Lemon-Butter Sauce is so quick and simple to make and tastes amazing.  Buy the freshest piece of fish that you can find to cook this dish (it is definitely worth going to your local fishmonger for it).  Serve it alongside crunchy Green Beans with Almonds or a tangy Spinach Salad and don’t forget the bread to sop up all that amazing sauce!


Aw, you knew I was going to throw in at least one tuna dish, right?  Here’s Tuna Tettrazini, which was the version of tuna casserole served in my parents’ house.  Easy to throw together after a busy work week and creamy, cheesy and comforting.  Here, I’ve served it with Peas with Sautéed Shallots.



So, here you have it: 7 Fridays in Lent and 7 meal ideas to fix for them.  I have many other Recipes that you can search from as well, too, to get some more inspiration.  You could even pull together a bunch of Appetizers and Salads for dinner, if you like.  I bet it wouldn’t be the first time you’ve done that and called it a meal!

Buon appetito!

Smoked Salmon Mousse

The acclaim for the Smoked Salmon Mousse I served last night has taken me by surprise.  I just thought it was a simple appetizer I’d throw together for friends to enjoy while watching the Downton Abbey finale.  From the emails, texts and Facebook posts I’ve seen in the last 24 hours, it seems like it was a huge hit with everyone, more than the other things that I made for us to munch on while waiting to see if Matthew and Mary would finally get together (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t watched it.).  It’s no small thrill for me to witness my friends enjoy my cooking, especially when the recipe is something I haven’t even attempted to make in years.

A Charlotte Mold – I tried to find a salmon-shaped pan but couldn’t locate one at any store in the city

The basic recipe is one that I found on many years back.  I’ve re-jigged it substantially here to fit my tastes.  By using wild-caught salmon in the fresh and smoked variety, the salmon-y flavor came through really intensely, like eating salmon spread slathered on a bagel.  Poaching the fish instead of using canned fish is actually an easy process, not dissimilar to the one for poaching chicken, but with less water and in a shallow pan.  It is also better than having to comb through a can of salmon with all the bits of random stuff in it, and taking the time to do this simple step really improves the flavor of the final dish.

Dill, scallions, and lemon – perfect with the salmon

In addition, I decided to add dill instead of cilantro to the mousse mixture and to amp up the citrus a bit by adding the lemon zest as well as the lemon juice.  I think that this gave it a nice tang as well.  Serving this with endive and radicchio made a crunchy, slightly bitter counterpoint to the creamy, richness of the mousse.

It does take a bit of work to put together, but the rewards are well worth it as the final dish is delicious!

In my original plan, I was going to be low-tech about putting this together, to keep in the Edwardian spirit of the evening, but in the end, I resorted to the efficiency of the food processor to give the mixture the texture for which I was looking, not completely smooth but not rough and chunky either.  Instead of using a machine to pull together the cream and the salmon, however, I decided that folding the fish into the whipped cream would give me a better result and lighter texture.  Something must have worked, as everyone really loved it.  This is one recipe I decided I should not keep hidden away in my files.

You are never too old to lick the bowl or spatula

Smoked Salmon Mousse

Prep Time: allow an hour cooking time, including time to poach the salmon, plus at least 8 hours setting time

Serving Size: 8-10 as an appetizer, maybe, as your guests will devour it


Waxed or Parchment Paper

Vegetable or Canola Oil

8-10 small dill sprigs

4 oz. piece of wild-caught Salmon

1/2 tsp. dry White Wine

1 small Bay Leaf

1 slice Lemon

1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. cold Water

2 3/4 tsp. boiling Water

1/2 packet of powdered Gelatin

1 1/2 tsp. Lemon Juice

3/4 c. Sour Cream

1/8 tsp. Tabasco sauce (add more to taste, but the dish shouldn’t be spicy)

4 oz. wild-caught Smoked Salmon, cut into small pieces

Zest of 1/2 Lemon, grated

2 Tbsp. Scallions, minced

1 Tbsp. fresh Dill, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. White Pepper, freshly ground

1/2 c. Heavy Cream (not whipping cream)

Endive and Radicchio spears


Prepare the Charlotte mold by cutting a circle of waxed or parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan.  Oil the bottom and sides of the pan.  Place the paper inside the pan on the bottom.  Put a very thin swipe of oil on the paper.  Place the dill springs on the paper.  These will end up decorating the top of the mousse when it is unmolded.

Decorate the bottom of the pan by placing sprigs of dill on top of the paper lining

To poach the fresh salmon, put it, skin side down, in a skillet with 1/4 cup water, bay leaf, and lemon slice.  With heat on low, let it come to a simmer and watch the fish as the color changes from bright, vivid pink to light rose pink.  When the color has changed about halfway up the side of the fish, turn it over to cook it on the other side.  When it the entire piece is light pink on the outside, give it another 30 seconds, and then turn off the flame.  Remove the fish from the water and set aside to cool.

Poached wild-caught salmon

Pour lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon cold water in a small bowl.  Sprinkle 1/2 packet of powdered gelatin over the liquid and let it sit for a couple of minutes to soften.  Pour boiling water over the mixture and stir to dissolve the gelatin. The liquid will start to look thick.

Dissolved gelatin

In the bowl of a food processor, pour in the sour cream and Tabasco sauce.  Add the smoked salmon and the poached salmon.  Blend until smooth, allowing for some texture in the mixture.

Salmons and sour cream blended together

Add the dissolved gelatin, lemon zest, scallions, chopped dill, salt, and pepper to the salmon mixture.  Pulse again, several times, until everything is thoroughly blended together.  Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning as needed.  There should be a slight tang from sour cream along with an herbal freshness from the dill, a bright citrus lift from the lemon, and perhaps the teeniest kick of heat from the Tabasco.  These flavors will change again with the addition of the whipped cream.

Mixture with the spices added and the texture a bit smoother

At this point, in a separate bowl whip the cream until it is in the soft to medium peak range.  Do not over beat it.

Whipped cream

Fold one quarter of the salmon mixture into the cream, lifting from the bottom to incorporate everything.  Continue to add the salmon mixture one fourth of a time (i.e., three more times), folding each time to keep the mixture light. With the last fold, make sure that the cream and salmon are completely mixed together.  Taste again for seasoning.  Refrain from eating it all before you put it in the Charlotte mold.



Fully folded

Gently spoon the mixture into the bottom of the Charlotte mold, taking care not to disturb the dill springs on the bottom so that they set up properly.

Mousse mixture in the bottom of the pan

Continue to spoon the mouse into the pan until there is none left in the mixing bowl.  Gently shake the Charlotte mold to make sure the mousse is level.

All the mousse is in the pan

Ready to go into the fridge to set up

Cover the mold with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to set up.  The mousse should be kept in the fridge for at least 8 hours and can be prepared the night before serving.  When ready to serve it, remove the plastic wrap and run a knife alongside the edge of the mousse in the pan to loosen it.  Place the bottom of the mold in a pan of hot water to loosen it further.  Take a plate or platter, put it on top of the mold and flip it and the pan over together to release the mold.  You might have to give the mold a slight shake to release it fully.  Discard the waxed or parchment paper.

Smoked Salmon Mousse

Serve the Smoked Salmon Mouse alongside endive and/or radicchio spears.  Don’t anticipate having any leftovers.

Buon appetito!

Potted Crab

Potted Crab.  Not one of those dishes that I typically bring out for guests, in fact, I’ve never ever made it before yesterday. The season finale of Downton Abbey inspired me to try my hand at some more English fare.  My friends and are hooked on the show, so we all decided to gather to watch the Christmas special, which we just got to see today.   Instead of trying to pull together a massive dinner that might have been served in the dining room of the great house, we opted for a few sweet and savory nibbles instead…and a couple of bottles of something with bubbles, as it was the holiday season after all.

I’m not sure if this dish is completely typical of the period, but preserving food in fat is not an uncommon cooking method.  Duck confit, rillettes, and potted crab all fit in this category.  It allows the food to be stored longer and also stretches out the portions.  I like to take some of the fat and spread a thin layer of it on toast or bread and then slather the food on top of it.  It is super indulgent, but a little bit packs a big flavor punch.  I can’t eat it all the time, but some days it is the perfect lunch or teatime snack or even just an excuse to invite friends over to watch a little telly.

Potted Crab with Toast

Prep Time: 1 hour (with cleaning the crab)

Serving Size: about 6 ramekins (as a cocktail appetizer, one ramekin will feed multiple people)


8 oz. unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted and clarified (see below)

1 c. Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Meat (not backfin)

1 c. Snow Crab Meat

1/2 tsp. Allspice, freshly ground

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. White Pepper, freshly ground

1/2 tsp. Lemon Juice, fresh

Toasted bread or crackers


Leave one Tbsp.  of the clarified butter in the saucepan with the heat turned off.  Put both sets of crabmeat into the pan.  Sprinkle salt, allspice, and pepper over the crabmeat and add the lemon juice.  Fold gently to mix everything together.

Drizzle about 1/4 tsp. (it doesn’t have to be exact) of melted butter in the bottom of each ramekin.

Spoon crabmeat mixture into ramekin.

Fill ramekin 1/2 to 2/3 the way full with the crabmeat.

Pour additional clarified butter over the crabmeat until the butter covers it.  This will be several tablespoons of butter.

In the end, there will be a thin layer of butter over the crabmeat.

Place ramekins in the refrigerator to set for several hours (2-3) or overnight.  Bring to room temperature before serving by setting them out on the counter for 30 minutes.  Serve with toasted bread and/or crackers.

Kitchen Witch Tip:

Why to clarify butter?  Clarified butter, is butter that has been melted and has had the milk solids separated from the butterfat.  Although this isn’t necessary to do in everyday cooking, clarified butter has a higher smoke point so food can be cooked in it at a higher temperature without it burning.  It can also be stored longer than regular butter and does not need to be refrigerated.  Ghee, used in Indian cooking, is the same product.  Clarified butter can also be referred to as drawn butter.

Place 8 oz. of unsalted butter in a saucepan and set over low heat.

Let the butter melt completely and froth up.

Skim off the frothy part, the foam, with a spoon or ladle and set it aside.

Once the foam has been removed, a clear, yellow liquid, the butter, without the milk solids, will be left behind.

Clarified butter will keep for months in the fridge.  The key is to store it in a tightly sealed container, as it is sensitive to picking up odors from other foods.

The foam is still usable, too, and it is good tossed with steamed vegetables, maybe even these Green Beans with Almonds (if using in that recipe, do not use the butter for sautéing, as it will burn quickly).

Buon appetito!