Appetizers in my house get short shrift. My mom once said to me that she didn’t understand why anyone would want to fill their guests up with food before you sat them down and served them dinner. Not that she ever needed the edge that ravenous hunger can give a cook but limiting hors d’oeuvres to a bowl of cashews was her idea of ensuring the success of her dinner. I’m just lazy. I just keep hoping that by the time my guests have dinner and dessert, they won’t remember that I just put down a block of cheese and some grapes for an appetizer.
After weeks of blogstalking and baking out of Dorie’s book I decided that for this weekend’s guests I would reach back into my own recipe clippings and cook some of the very first things I ever prepared for others. This recipe is the very first I ever clipped out of Gourmet Magazine. It was in my first subscribed issue and I ended up cooking my way through the entire issue. The feature was on picnics with various dishes presented visually on a turned over canoe on a lake. Gourmet was not very practical– more about the fantasy of cooking than anything else and could be a bit intimidating…perhaps leading to its ultimate downfall?
This is one of those recipes that you will make once and then forever have it committed to your memory as you will be inundated with requests to bring them with you to potlucks and picnics. Removing the seeds from the peperoncini takes away the heat, leaving just enough to get cooled by the salmon dill cream. People expecting them to be too spicy will be pleasantly surprised by the great combination of flavors. Be sure to mince the shallot fine so you don’t clog your pastry bag tip. And while I’m thinking of it, just go and get a pastry bag if you don’t have one. They are cheap and cutting a hole in the corner of a Ziplock just won’t cut it for this one. Make them a day ahead for even more ease on party day.
Peperoncini Stuffed with Salmon Dill Cream
Lovingly clipped from Gourmet Magazine
This is what you will need:
- 35 to 40 (three to four 9-ounce jars) peperoncini (pickled Tuscan peppers), drained
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
- 3 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, chopped fine
This is how you make it:
- Trim the stem ends off the peperoncini at an angle and, wearing rubber gloves, discard the seeds and ribs.
- Let the peperoncini drain on paper towels.
- In a bowl cream the cream cheese with the butter until the mixture is smooth, add the dill, the shallot, the capers, and the lemon juice, and combine the mixture well.
- Stir in the salmon and salt and pepper to taste, transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch decorative or plain tip, and pipe the smoked salmon and dill cream into the peperoncini.
- The peperoncini may be prepared 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.