Monday, April 07, 2008

Salmon Rillettes (Page 18)

  • Date: Friday, April 4, 2008 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Randy, Peter M, Bert, Bruce, Dan, Vigleik, Tony, etc...
  • Recipe Rating: B-

I had this recipe in mind for a party a few weeks ago, but then I didn't make it, so I figured I would try it for the AMS special session dinner I hosted on Friday. I wasn't impressed by this recipe. It was by no means terrible, but I also didn't particularly like it. My main issue was that it had many ingredients, yet the flavors of those various tasty ingredients (shallots, capers, mustard, lemon, Cognac, etc...) were all overpowered by the flavor of the smoked salmon. This recipe, strangely, called for both smoked salmon and poached fresh salmon. The point of the un-smoked salmon wasn't clear to me as the flavor of the smoked salmon was so dominant you could hardly appreciate that there was fresh salmon in there. I think this recipe would have been hugely improved by cutting the amount of smoked salmon in half. Even if you love smoked salmon this recipe doesn't make sense. If you love smoked salmon so much that you only want to taste smoked salmon, then why bother with all those other ingredients? You could just put smoked salmon on your bread. All that said, this recipe didn't taste bad, and the texture was nice. However, I won't be making it again.

Here is the recipe.

I had imagined, when I originally thought about this dinner party for math hot-shots, that I would just cook food from The Book, as I always do for dinner parties. I had no intention of telling them about the project or making them grade, but I figured if I carefully selected recipes that seemed sure to be good, then I could get away with book-cooking for the evening. That was my plan. In then end, after my horribly delayed return from California earlier in the week, I found myself stressed out and tired, with not enough time to write my talk, or make dinner! When I still hadn't decided on a menu at 8pm the night before the big party, I decided a big book dinner was not the way to go -- too stressful and too time-consuming to make an entire dinner of new food. I couldn't abandon my project for the evening though, so I made a compromise with myself that I would make appetizers and desserts from The Book, and the main course, soup, salad, and vegetable from my normal repertoire. So that's what I did. And let me tell you, this was one time that I was really glad that I didn't try to pull off a huge book meal. For one thing, of the 5 recipes I made from The Book that night, only one was actually good, and one was truly a disaster. Also, even as it was, making an easy entree (soup, salad, etc...) that I had made many times before, I was cutting it pretty close on time. Probably I should have abandoned the book altogether for the evening -- it's a little embarrassing serving food that isn't spot-on to people that you respect (and who don't know about the project -- when people know they are eating project food I have no problem serving up a pile of who-knows-what). I hope they didn't walk away thinking, "Wow, she's a lousy cook..." But even if they did, it's not the end of the world. In that particular crowd it's a bit more important what they think of my math than my food!


Magdalen said...

Teena, Teena, Teena -- It is possible, I suppose, that you know people with WAY higher standards of cooking than I do, but I have to protest this notion that anyone could walk away from a dinner you made thinking, "Wow, she's just not that good a cook," regardless of what you served.

I'm a good cook. Not great, but competent. One thing I can do that impresses people is cook and socialize at the same time. Not that hard to do, right? Well, it miraculously blows people away everytime, and I really can't see the wonder in it.

You are undoubtedly a better cook than I am. I would hazard a guess, therefore, that people are impressed with your cooking regardless of what you serve. After all, even the worst recipe will have been prepared correctly, it just won't have been a great recipe.

What surprises me is not that you would worry about serving previously-untried Book recipes to your colleagues, but that you'd worry they would think ill of you. Surely people tell you how impressed they are with your cooking skills? C'mon -- admit it!

ana rita said...

for the record, I am impressed with teena's cooking skills.

Teena said...

Magdalen: OK, you're probably right. I'm sure no one walked away thinking, "Wow, that was bad." I find it very difficult though to do less than my best work for people who I respect. It transcends not just my cooking, but all aspects of my life. I strive to always put my best foot forward. So in the presence of people who don't know about my project, it makes me a little uncomfortable to make food knowing that I could have made better...

All that said, I'm sure no one was judging me too harshly after the meal that I served. Except maybe me!

Ana: Thanks! Looking forward to cooking with you again soon!

mike said...

Hey, I just found your blog and really like it. It neat to compare some of the same dishes we've made from different books. Check out my version rillettes:

Keep up the great writing!

Teena said...

Hi Mike -- Welcome! Your project looks so fun too. I look forward to following along on your blog!