Lemony Smoked Salmon Dip

Lemony Smoked Salmon Dip

This is a recipe I think Ina would appreciate, especially when she notices that I followed her high/low rule by serving elegant smoked salmon with simple potato chips straight from the yellow Lay’s bag. This recipe also closely follows the make-ahead and low or no-cook rule by helpfully improving with time in the refrigerator and requiring a minimum of mixing and prepping to be incredible.

Last time I made this dip I whipped up a batch the night before knowing it was exactly the type of item I could hand off to literally any early arrival - up to and including a middle-schooler - and say “put this in a bowl, sprinkle it with these herbs, and pour chips around it” with utter confidence it would be perfect when guests walked through the door.

Lemony Smoked Salmon Dip

SuperBowl parties are coming up, so add this baby to your repertoire and sleep soundly smug in the knowledge you have a knock-out appetizer up your sleeve and it took almost no effort to prepare.

Lemony Smoked Salmon Dip (serves: 8-10)

Ingredients:
8 ounces smoked salmon
2 cups whole milk greek yogurt (I prefer a milder flavor like Fage here)
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup minced fresh chives, plus more for serving
1/3 cup tablespoon minced fresh dill, plus more for serving
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Instructions:
In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, minced herbs, lemon juice, salt* and pepper until well combined. *Both smoked salmon and potato chips are pretty salty (duh) so go easy here!

Using your fingers, pull the smoked salmon into large pieces and fold into the yogurt mixture until evenly distributed.

Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the dip with more chives, dill and freshly ground pepper. Dip can be made 2 days ahead. Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate.

Re-written and adapted from Bon Appetit’s Lemony Smoked Trout Dip by Alison Roman.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
100%. I used a medium mixing bowl, chef’s knife, medium cutting board, and rubber spatula. The recipe is easy to eye-ball, but if you want to be precise then measuring cups & spoons.

Lemony Smoked Salmon Dip
Lemony Smoked Salmon Dip

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart | Image: Laura Messersmith

It’s citrus season again and the produce section is once more bursting with oranges, pink lemons, and my favorite: grapefruits. When I was younger the only way I could eat bracingly tart grapefruit was with heaping spoons of sugar. I admit, this pretty much defeats the purpose of consuming fruit in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there. As my taste buds matured I needed less and less sugar and today I sip freshly squeezed grapefruit juice without wincing.

My mood needs the bracing boost of sharp citrus. But for folks still on the fence, this bruléed grapefruit tart strikes a happy medium between lovely sweetness and teeth aching acidity by combining the milder ruby red or pink grapefruit variety with just the lightest sprinkle of toasted sugar and a simple, crisp crust.

Now, if it just tasted delicious I’d be sold, but this dessert has the extra benefit of also looking impressive. Elegant, concentric overlapping circles of grapefruit segments glistening under the melted sugar fooled my friends into thinking it came from a bakery. High praise. Imagine my enjoyment when I revealed that the entire process took place entirely in my own kitchen.

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart | Image: Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart (serves 8)

 Tart Shell Ingredients:
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Filling Ingredients:
4 large ruby red or pink grapefruits
1/4 cup orange or citrus marmalade
1/3 cup finely crushed butter cookies or honey graham crackers
6 tablespoons coarse sugar

Instructions:
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar together with an electric hand mixer. Add the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.

Press the dough into a 9 inch round false-bottom tart pan making sure that the finished edge is flat and the corner between the sides and bottom is sharp. Refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prick the bottom of the chilled tart shell all over with a fork, then line with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. These steps will prevent the shell from puffing up. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing the paper and beans.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

To prep the filling, cut a thin slice from both ends of each grapefruit. Place the cut end on a cutting board and cut away the peel and the white part of the rind. Slip the knife along the sides of the membrane dividing the segment to remove the slice of grapefruit.

Spread the marmalade over the partially baked crust. Sprinkle with the crushed cookies or graham crackers. Arrange the grapefruit slices over the crust in concentric circles starting from the outer edge. (You probably won’t use every single piece.) Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the coarse sugar over the grapefruit.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Remove tart from oven; turn on broiler (or pull out your kitchen torch). Sprinkle tart with the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until sugar is lightly browned and the edges of the grapefruit just begin to singe.

Let cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Re-written and adapted from Better Homes and Garden’s Broiled Grapefruit Tart and Ina Garten’s Lemon Curd Tart.

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, indeed. I used a medium mixing bowl, an electric hand mixer, measuring cups and spoons, a rubber spatula, a 9 inch false bottom tart pan, a medium cutting board, a serrated utility knife, and a kitchen torch. Parchment paper and dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights round out the equipment.

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart | Image: Laura Messersmith

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage | Image: Laura Messersmith

Am I the only one who’s just now realizing how delicious (and frankly, super simple to make) pork chops are? They’re quickly becoming my favorite thing to make for quick weeknight suppers, special occasions, when guests are coming to dinner. In part that’s because they’re a little unexpected – not your standard chicken or obvious “fancy” steak. It’s also because when a pork chop, especially a really flavorful, bone-in cut, is prepared simply it’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Case in point, just read the ingredient list below – I’d be willing to bet that the only items not on hand are the meat and the herbs, everything else is almost certainly in the pantry already, just waiting to be called into action. But don’t be fooled – just because the recipe is brief doesn’t mean it’s ordinary or boring. In fact the results are deeply savory and satisfying – just right for a chilly October evening.

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage | Image: Laura Messersmith

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Garlic & Sage (serves: 4)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (6-8 ounce) thick-cut, bone-in pork chops
Kosher salt
ground black pepper
8 fresh sage leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and season generously on all sides with salt and pepper.

When the oil is hot and beginning to smoke, add the pork chops to the pan. Cook on one side until golden brown, about 1 minute. The turn and repeat the process on the other side, cooking for 1 minute. Continue to turn each minute for about 7–10 minutes until the chops are deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 135 degrees F.

Remove pan from heat and immediately add the sage, garlic, and butter. Swirl together the juices and aromatics, then tilt the skillet and spoon the pan sauce over the pork chops – bone and fat cap included – for 2-3 minutes. Transfer pork chops to a platter and rest at least 5 minutes - the internal temperature will rise to 145 degrees F.

Serve immediately with juices from the pan spooned over the top.

Re-written and lightly adapted Bon Appetit’s Your New Favorite Pork Chop by Alison Roman.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a large sauté pan, tongs, medium cutting board, large spoon, chef’s knife, and paper towels.

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage | Image: Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage | Image: Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines | Image: Laura Messersmith

I first tasted a version of this salad when I was living in Cambridge and working near Beacon Hill. Occasionally we’d walk over to a café on Charles Street called Panificio for lunch where their Chicken Tarragon Salad quickly became my favorite menu item. The addition of the grapes; the chopped fresh herbs made it special and elegant – a daring flavor combination to my newly awakening palate.

Since ten dollar salads on the regular weren’t really in the budget at the time I began making tarragon chicken salad for myself at home and even relied on it to impress Mike the first time I cooked for him. I worked all morning carefully slicing the grapes, washing the greens and trying to make everything perfect. We wedged ourselves in at the black and white table – an old counter top from my grandparent’s farmhouse transformed by a thrifty uncle – and began a tradition of connecting over a meal.

It’s been an awesome 8 years since that lunch. Our current kitchen is different, but still tiny, the black and white table is still with us, and I’m still making our favorite chicken salad. This time with a small refresh using basil in place of the tarragon. Why mess too much with a good thing?

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines | Image: Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines (serves 4)

Ingredients:
3 pounds (4 split) bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Kosher salt
ground black pepper
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup seedless green grapes
4 slices multigrain bread
2 cups mixed baby greens or spinach

Instructions:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides generously with salt and black pepper. Place the chicken skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Set the roasted chicken aside to cool.

Meanwhile, finely chop the basil leaves and slice the grapes in half. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, carefully remove the meat from the bones and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Place the chicken in a medium mixing bowl; add the mayonnaise, basil and grapes. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir to evenly combine.

Toast the slices of bread and top with the greens and the basil chicken salad. Serve immediately.

Adapted and re-written from Ina Garten’s Chicken Salad Veronique inspired by Panificio's Tarragon Chicken Salad.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Since day one. I used a rimmed baking sheet, medium mixing bowl, medium cutting board, chef’s knife, measuring spoons, and a rubber spatula.

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines | Image: Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines | Image: Laura Messersmith