I dream about hosting Christmas one year. So far there has always been a reasonable excuse why we can't do it (much to my husband's relief). For a while it was that our house was too small for the enormous extended family, then we visited my family in California, same house is still too small, then we moved to Moscow, then we got a bigger house but we had a second baby, then we moved to Moscow again.
Someday I will get there. Some day my house will be twinkly and the sounds of Christmas music will float across the room and people will be drinking mulled wine and all the kids will be screaming as they open their gifts from Santa. For my husband's family, Santa (or Ded Moroz) makes a jolly appearance to hand out presents which are earned by reciting poems or singing songs.
So for now we come rolling into Christmas jetlagged or scraping together 'good enough' decorations and we go to someone else's house. Which is also really nice. The whole no set up or clean up thing has its benefits.
If you happen to be hosting a sit down Christmas dinner, I found this great ("vintage", as in, from the 90s) recipe for the first course. Chilled herbed cream rolled up in smoked salmon atop green salad and garnished with caviar. It makes a wonderful start to a festive and special meal. Any of our caviar will make this dish shine, but I would recommend Estate, Reserve or Select.
Wherever you are spending Christmas (or whatever winter holiday you celebrate), I hope you are happy, full of joy, and surrounded by love and warmth.
Green Salad with Smoked Salmon and Caviar (serves 4)
Bon Appetit, February 1996 (epicurious.com)
1/4 cup chilled whipping cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or green onion tops
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared white horseradish
2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons Tsar Nicoulai Estate, Reserve or Select Caviar (approximately 1 ounce)
4 6x5-inch thin slices smoked salmon (about 6 ounces)
5 cups (packed) mixed baby greens
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1. Beat cream, 1 tablespoon chives and horseradish in medium bowl to stiff peaks. Fold in 2 tablespoons caviar. Season to taste with pepper. Place salmon slices on work surface. Spread 2 tablespoons caviar mixture down center of each, leaving 1/2-inch border on short sides. Fold short sides in, then roll up smoked salmon, starting at 1 long side. Place seam side down on plate. Wrap salmon bundles in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.
2. Place greens and remaining 2 tablespoons chives in large bowl. Whisk oil and lime juice in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over greens and toss to coat. Divide salad among 4 plates. Top each with salmon bundle. Top with remaining 4 teaspoons caviar and serve.
When I host parties, I have a hard time reigning it in. I get over zealous and want to make every single thing from scratch and have it be super fancy and amazing. This is all well and good, but if you are hosting a holiday party, things can just get a little hectic. I wanted to provide another super simple idea for a great small bite to include in any of your upcoming holiday gatherings.
I am using Tsar Nicoulai Golden Reserve Caviar again. Our suggested Traditional Signature Bite for this specific caviar is to serve it on toasted and unsalted buttered challah bread, French brioche, or an English muffin and creme fraiche. My mother was visiting and kept asking me if I wanted to just bake the challah bread instead. I told you this is where I get it from. I insisted I was going store bought with this. Simple is the key!
I sliced up challah bread I purchased from Whole Foods about 1/2-1 inch thick and then cut out little circles with a round cookie cutter. I dipped one side in melted unsalted butter and lined the circles on a foil lined baking sheet (buttered side up). I toasted them in the oven at about 350 degrees for a minute or two. Unfortunately you just have to watch it. There is no exact time that is going to work for everyone. I won't lie - I may have burnt the first one (or two) batches.
Once they have cooled slightly, top with a generous 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of caviar and some microgreens for color. Oh - I left out the creme fraiche this time, but you don't have to. The subtle sweetness of the challah perfectly complemented the salty, buttery caviar.
If you are having about 10 people, I would suggest around 2 large loaves of challah bread and a 1-2oz jar of caviar (it depends on the size of the loaf and the amount of caviar you plan to put on each one). Extra bread is good to have in case of burned batches. Leftover caviar will undoubtedly be taken care of, so more is always better!
Sweet potatoes usually make a cloyingly sweet appearance on Thanksgiving under a singed layer of marshmallows. Don't hold it against me, but I much prefer the buttery goodness of a rich Yukon gold mash and find their orange counterpart a bit superfluous at the table. I do, however, like sweet potatoes themselves without all the sugary fuss.
It's always hard to bring new ideas to the Thanksgiving table, but if everyone is open to a sweet potato alternative (or addition), this dish from the Food Network website is a good one. It's a simple baked sweet potato chip, topped with an herbed creme fraiche and some caviar. Great as an appetizer enjoyed in a foggy cloud of champagne, wine and friendly warmth. Recipe is below.
I chose to top these home baked chips with Tsar Nicoulai Golden Reserve Caviar to make them extra decadent. With an almost shimmering golden color and smooth, buttery finish, this rare caviar will make your guests feel extra special.
The marathon of holiday festivities approaches us. Wishing everyone a lovely, safe, and friendly season. If you are away from home, we are with you in spirit. If you are needed at work, we thank you for all you do.
Sweet Potato Chips with Creme Fraiche and Caviar (serves 10-12)
2 sweet potatoes
Salt + pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 oz jar of Tsar Nicoulai Golden Reserve Caviar (other grades of our caviar would also work well here)
1. Slice sweet potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 425 degrees F until crisp, about 15 minutes, then cool on a rack.
2. Mix chopped chives with creme fraiche; dollop on the potatoes and top with 1/2 teaspoon of caviar.