Friday, March 21, 2014

An Appetizer to Pair with Prosecco

That little dark green spot - Prosecco area
That little dark green spot - Prosecco area
One of the wines I chose to use in the upcoming Winefest Renaissance wine tasting event (for the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club of Aberdeen) is Mionetto Il Prosecco. I had the very great pleasure some years back to actually meet Mr. and Mrs. Sergio Mionetto at a Mionetto luncheon wine tasting. Three Mionetto Proseccos and a Moscato were served with small portions of foods created to set off the flavors of each wine. It was an amazing experience, though I am not truly fond of any sparkling wine. "What!?" you might say? "You don't like sparkling wines?" Nope. It's the fizz I object to, which is the whole point of a sparkling wine, I realize. I cannot deal with the fizz in any beverage, so I completely left off drinking any soft drinks a very long, long time ago. 

Still. I know that sparkling wines are high on most peoples' lists, and so I am pleased to serve a Prosecco in my part of the wine and food pairing. Prosecco is a grape grown in  the hills north of Venice and Treviso, where the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene mark the limits of the Prosecco area. The "Il Prosecco" line covers the lower end wines of Mionetto, though they are still a pleasure with their fresh, crisp, fruity flavors, and easy to open little bottle caps. At the Mionetto Prosecco tasting luncheon, each Prosecco was served with seafood; shellfish in particular. I love seafood, and shellfish in particular, though I have a slight allergy. If I am willing to swell up for a few days, I can eat it. My husband, however, dislikes any seafood, and shellfish in particular. If a very white fish has enough breading and is smothered with enough tartar sauce and ketchup, he will usually tolerate it. Shellfish however, he will not even try. Needless to say, we left that luncheon and he got a burger. I ate everything and some of his! 

Green Pea Pancakes & Smoked Salmon Mousse
Green Pea Pancakes & Smoked Salmon Mousse
Anyway, back to the wine event. I am planning to pair the Il Prosecco with Green Pea Pancakes with Smoked Salmon Mousse. I have not tasted the pairing myself, but I must say, the little appetizers are amazingly good. The crispness and fruitiness of the wine should pair well the Green Pea Pancakes, as well as the Mousse. I had originally planned to make little cheese wafers to hold the mousse, but then saw a recipe in the latest Food and Wine Magazine for Green Pea Pancakes (page 52) and got an idea. The recipe in the magazine is a thinner batter, meant to be made as small pancakes in a pan. I wanted the pancakes to be a little thicker, easier to pick up, and more uniform. 

Green Pea Pancakes
Green Pea Pancakes
I racked my brain overnight and came up with the idea to make them in the bottom of muffin tins! I added to the batter such things as capers and fresh dill and more flour than called for and spooned the batter into buttered muffin cups. They came out so pretty. Perfectly round and a bright, beautiful green. The lovely soft pink of the Smoked Salmon Mousse makes a great combination of colors that are very eye-catching. They are very easy to make too, which is always a plus. The pancakes can be made in advance and frozen, which is what I am doing. I made a first batch and we ate over half of them in taste testing! I made a second batch yesterday and those are all neatly frozen. They will remain frozen until the day of the event, and then brought to room temperature.

The Smoked Salmon Mousse is a simple enough recipe. It should not be made more than a couple of days in advance as the fishiness factor rises with time. Here are my recipes:

Green Pea Pancakes

Makes 24 to 34, depending on the measure
Green Pea Pancakes
Showing the size

1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons capers
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh dill
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convection). Butter the lower half of the muffin tin cups, or use a cooking spray. Set aside. 

Set the frozen peas in a colander and run hot water over for a few seconds to soften. Place the drained peas in a food processor. Add the salt, capers, egg and yolk, lemon zest, dill and cream and process until fine. Add the flour and pulse to combine. I find it easier to pour the batter out into a measuring cup before dropping by tablespoon into the muffin cups. Use a tablespoon measure or a small cookie scoop measuring approximately 1 tablespoon. Depending on your measuring, you may get up to 35 pancakes, or as little as 24. 

Bake the pancakes for about 8 minutes, or until set and dry, but not browned. Allow the pancakes to cool for about a minute before gently running a small spatula or table knife around the edges to loosen. Turn out onto waxed paper, top sides down, to allow them to cool and dry enough not to stick to each other. 

Make Ahead: Set them in a single layer on a tray or baking sheet and freeze solid before stacking them in a well sealed container or freezer zip-top baggies for up to a month. 

Top view of Green Pea Pancakes with Smoked Salmon Mousse

Smoked Salmon Mousse

Ateco extra-large open star tip #829
Makes enough to top about 24 Green Pea Pancakes

1 (4.5 ounce) chunk smoked salmon
8 ounces cream cheese
4 scallions
2 - 3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Remove any skin from the salmon, break the fish into chunks and place in a food processor with the cream cheese, scallion (white and light green parts, roughly chopped; reserve the dark green tops to garnish), lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of the juice. Process until very fine. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Use a small spoon to place portions of the mouse onto the little green pea pancakes, or if you are adept with an icing bag and tip, use those for a lovely presentation. Garnish the appetizers with thinly sliced dark green scallion tops.

I find that using a piping bag with a large open star tip makes for a beautiful presentation. I love Ateco extra-large open star tip # 829 for this purpose, as well as many other beautiful applications like one giant scallop atop a cake slice. If you do not have a large icing tip, or know how to use an icing bag, just use a spoon to place a small amount of the mousse on the little green pea pancakes.  

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.