Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Smoked Mackerel Pate with Apple and Lime

Smoked Mackerel Pate with Apple and Lime

A new cookbook for The Gastronomer to review arrives at our doorstep at least once a month; thus over the past couple of years we have acquired a rather impressive recipe library. With such bounty in our bookshelves, it was pretty tough deciding on 15-20 dishes to make for her 2010 birthday present. With the exception of the Susanna Foo trifecta that I prepared for Meal #1, I resolved to go for diversity and make no more than one dish from each cookbook. I also stayed away from my old friend The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook--it was time to test myself with less user-friendly recipes.

Indeed, this recipe proved to be a bit of a challenge--making the pate was a breeze, but splitting the pieces of toast in half without breaking them was tricky, as was peeling the lime and separating the wedges without having them fall apart. As it turned out, a whole slice of lime on each toast section was way too much sourness for our tastes anyway, so we ended up eating most of the sections with small pieces of shredded lime that were the unfortunate byproducts of my initial peeling/separation efforts. The pate on its own was delicious--I'll definitely make it again.

Recipe from Appetizers by Shane Osborn.

For Pate
  • 5 oz smoked mackerel (skin removed)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lime
For Serving
  • 2-3 thin slices of white bread
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 lime
Make Pate

Put the fish into a food processor and process briefly to a paste, about 30 seconds. Add the softened butter and process again until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and add half of the lime juice, to taste (reserve the rest of the lime juice for the apple).

Make Melba Toasts and Serve

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the broiler (unless you prefer to use the toaster). Toast the bread slices until lightly colored on both sides. Cool slightly, then remove the crusts and cut each slice horizontally in half. Rub with your fingers to remove loose crumbs. Cut into quarters, then halve each toast to make wafer-thin triangles. Place on a baking sheet. Leave in a warm place for 10 minutes to curl, then bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Peel, halve, and core the apple. Cut into very thin slices and toss in the reserved lime juice to prevent discoloration. Peel the lime, removing all pith, then cut the sections from the membrane. Place a generous spoonful of fish pate on each melba toast triangle and top with an apple slice and a lime section.

Yield: 16 toast sections
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: Not given
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 35 minutes
Substitutions: The original recipe called for smoked eel (which alas, I couldn't find) but listed smoked mackerel as an acceptable substitution. I used Blue Hill Bay peppered mackerel from Whole Foods. Since the mackerel was already nicely seasoned, I didn't add any salt or pepper to the pate. The recipe suggested to bake the Melba toasts for 10 minutes, but I burned my first batch, and ultimately found that ~6 minutes was more appropriate with the bread I was using.
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