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.
This Friday, November 3rd, a Tsar Nicoulai Caviar trio pack hits the shelves in West Coast Whole Foods stores. The caviar "flight" features three grades of our sustainable, farm-to-table, American white sturgeon, malossol caviar - Golden Reserve, Classic and Select - and comes with a mother of pearl spoon. Our perfectly packaged set makes for a great gift this holiday season as well as the easiest secret weapon for an extravagant get together. Living across the coast, I don't get to visit the farm nearly as much as I would like. Enjoying these caviars as a tasting feels like I am exploring our beautiful farm in Wilton, CA.
Unable to resist an excuse to have people over, I gathered a few friends for some caviar and bubbles. Armed with this trio pack, some creme fraiche and mini blini (both available on our website or Whole Foods), I was able to put together quite a spread with hardly any effort. In addition to the caviar topped blini, I made Joanne Weir's Celebration Pizza with Smoked Salmon and Caviar. I didn't have anything in particular to celebrate for this party, except becoming everyone's favorite friend and relative - caviar will do that! And so can this pizza.
For the Celebration Pizza, pizza dough is baked with cheese and red onions (no pizza sauce) then topped with smoked salmon, a creme fraiche drizzle, caviar and chopped chives. Everyone that came over went straight for the pizza - it was too pretty and luxurious to resist.
I seriously adore my friends and family. Spending time with them, eating good food and drinking fun things, just warms my heart. As much as I love intense menu planning (something I inherited from my mother), the trio pack helped me focus more on the love and laughter of the moment spent with some dear people.
Joanne Weir is an award winning chef and beloved by many in San Francisco and across the country and world. She has multiple cooking shows (on PBS and CREATE) and has published several cookbooks. Joanne also teaches cooking classes in San Francisco and hosts culinary journeys across the globe. Don't doubt for a minute that I didn't immediately email her culinary journeys link to my husband with the subject line, "Gift Ideas for Olga" (copy and paste if you would like to do the same: https://www.joanneweir.com/international-culinary-journeys/). We've partnered with Joanne to create some beautiful recipes for our caviar. We look forward to sharing more of them with you and to spending more time with Joanne.
Pick up your trio starting November 3rd in participating Whole Foods stores and get yourself ready for all the holiday festivities that lie ahead! Scroll down for each caviar's flavor profile.
Don't live on the West Coast? Visit the seafood department of your nearest Whole Foods and they can special order for you.
Caviar Trio Tasting Notes
The trio features three grades of caviar with three distinct flavor profiles and colors
Golden Reserve (Gold) - This exquisite and rare caviar with its medium to large bead and glowing golden color has a smooth, buttery finish that will completely exhilarate even the most discerning palate.
Select (Grey) - A premier caviar plated within the finest restaurants in the country. Praised by connoisseurs for its smooth finish, gentle pop, beautiful dark brown to platinum hue, and creamy medium to large sized bead.
Classic (Black) - A complex flavor noted for its brine finish. It has a medium grain size with a bold jet black color and a delicate surface that melts on your palate.
So it's Fall! We are going to be a little cliche here and embrace all. the. pumpkin.
Traditional pumpkin spices include ginger, so when I came across the Minimalist Baker's Pumpkin Sage Biscuits in my search for something "Fall" and "Halloween", (not something that is commonly linked to caviar), they just begged to be matched with our naturally infused Ginger Whitefish Roe.
These delicious, flaky biscuits would definitely be welcomed at an autumnal brunch or dinner or a classy Halloween themed gathering. They are easy to make and the subtle pumpkin and sage flavors pair so beautifully with the Ginger Whitefish Roe's pleasant sharpness.
Move over, Pumpkin Spiced Latte. You've been replaced.
Pumpkin Sage Biscuits with Creme Fraiche & Ginger Whitefish Roe (serves 8)
adapted from the Minimalist Baker to be non-vegan
3/4 cup unsweetened buttermilk
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (you can also use a 2:1 mix of unbleached all-purpose & whole-wheat pastry or whole white wheat)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp sea salt
pinch each ground cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter + more for topping
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (canned, or from a roasted pumpkin)
up to 3 Tbsp fresh sage, roughly chopped or torn (or sub 1 tsp dry sage)
creme fraiche and Tsar Nicoulai Ginger Infused Whitefish Roe for topping
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
2. Measure buttermilk in a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl then whisk in pumpkin puree.
3. Mix flour(s), salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg (if using) in a large bowl.
4. Add cold butter and use a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers to combine until small pieces remain and it looks like wet sand. Work quickly so the butter doesn’t get too warm. Add chopped sage and mix once more.
5. Using a wooden spoon, stir gently while pouring in the buttermilk-pumpkin mixture 1/4 cup at a time. You may not need all of it. Stir until just slightly combined – it will be a little sticky, but not too much.
6. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with a bit of flour and then very gently turn the dough over on itself a couple times – hardly kneading.
7. Form into a 1-inch thick disc, handling as little as possible.
8. Use a 1-inch thick dough cutter or a similar-shaped object with sharp edges and push straight down through the dough, then slightly twist. Repeat and place biscuits on a baking sheet in two rows making sure they just touch – this will help them rise uniformly. Gently reform the dough and cut out one or two more biscuits – you should have 7-9 depending on the size of your cutter.
9. Brush the tops with a bit more melted butter and gently press a small divot in the center using your thumb. This will also help them rise evenly, so the middle won’t form a dome.
10. Bake for 13-17 minutes or until fluffy and golden brown. These take a little longer to bake than traditional biscuits because the pumpkin adds extra moisture.
11. Garnish the top with creme fraiche and a generous spoonful of Ginger Infused Whitefish Roe. You can also halve the biscuits and garnish each open faced half.
I am pretty sure I have mentioned that growing up my parents threw a lot of dinner parties with interesting people. Russian circus performers, Georgian dancers, boisterous family friends - people from all over the world. My mother's meals during these loud and hilarious evenings never disappointed. She is known for her culinary talents and my parents are both revered for their endless hospitality.
Usually an impressive and thoughtful plated dessert finished the meal. It was my job to help my mom plate them and then I got to bring them out to the guests. This was always my favorite part. As I would carry out the dishes, the warmth and laughter swirling around the room would be chased by a chorus of "oooohs" and "aaaaaahs". Nowadays, if I can, I try to throw in a plated dessert when we host our own guests at our home. The little girl in me still can't get enough of that moment, making each person feel special.
Many times the dessert was a panna cotta. My mother played around with flavors and accompaniments. It was only recently that I realized panna cotta can be savory too. Somewhere I came across the idea of a cauliflower panna cotta and it felt like a fitting dish to top with some Tsar Nicoulai Caviar. Some of our signature bites top creamy vegetable soups and purees with caviar so the pairing isn't an outrageous concept. My mom also happened to be in town at the time of this experiment so it was a no brainer!
The basic steps to panna cotta are warming and flavoring cream (sometimes with milk), adding some gelatin and letting it cool in a ramekin or mold. Here we are adding in pureed cauliflower with the cream. You can also add a small amount of Parmesan cheese to the warm cauliflower+cream mixture to add a layer of complexity.
Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Select Caviar (6 servings in 8oz ramekins)
adapted from Lunds & Byerlys
1 pound cauliflower, stems removed, cut into florets
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1.5 cups cold water
1 package unflavored gelatin (like Knox)
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
A few teaspoons of grated Parmesan cheese, optional
1 ounce jar of Tsar Nicoulai Select Caviar
1. Place cauliflower florets in a saucepan with butter and water. Simmer 20-30 minutes. Add cream and cook an additional 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower has softened.
2. Puree cauliflower and some of the cooking liquid in a food processor until smooth. Strain the puree.
2. Sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon of cold water and let soften 2 minutes. Warm half of puree in same saucepan and add the gelatin. Stir 2 minutes. Add remaining puree and combine. If using, add Parmesan cheese. Season with salt to taste.
3. Divide among 6 (8-ounce) ramekins. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
4. To unmold, run the tip of a knife around the circumference of the panna cotta and place ramekin in a shallow pan of hot water 20-30 seconds. Unmold onto serving plate. Alternatively, you can leave it in the ramekin.
NOTE: I also played around with different dishes to serve the panna cotta (without unmolding). One was a pretty tea cup. I also tried small shot glasses and yogurt jars which end up more like hors d'oeuvres.
5. Top with about 1 teaspoon of caviar depending on your panna cotta shape and size.
Even in California the perfectly summery days can become numbered. On the East Coast the humidity isn't always welcome, but by the end of summer we are desperately trying to hold on to it - putting in a last ditch effort for one more glorious weekend by a beach, butter slicked fingers, cracking open whatever seafood. Then come the drips of watermelon juice or melting popsicle down our arms. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, but as summer ends, I cling to the sunny, sticky, thick days so fiercely.
This dish turned in to a sort of ode to summer vegetables as we draw closer to a season change. The farmer's markets are always full of shiny yellow summer squash and deep green zucchini so I picked those up for a take on the Tsar Nicoulai Truffle Infused Whitefish Roe Luxe Signature Bite. I diced those, leaving them a bit big. I also cut up some mushrooms, diced some onions and halved bright and juicy cheery tomatoes. The amounts don't really matter because the leftover vegetables make their own great side dish or topping for toasty crusty bread, but I would grab about two each of medium sized zucchini and squash.
I like the taste of caramelized soft onions so I sauteed them first in some hot oil over medium heat. Once the onions were translucent, I tossed in the mushrooms. When the liquid from the mushrooms began to evaporate, I added in the zucchini and squash. I didn't want any of the other vegetables (besides the onions) to get too mushy. Crisp-tender is what I was going for with slightly browned edges. The tomatoes went in last until they were just a bit scorched and letting out their sweet and tart juices.
While all the veggies are cooking, prepare whatever pasta you like - enough servings for however many people you are treating to this bright and filling dish.
I used linguine and composed the plate by making a tall pile of pasta, which I tossed in a little olive oil and salt, in the middle and bordered with the colorful vegetable mix. Garnish with fresh parsley and top with Tsar Nicoulai Truffle Infused Whitefish Roe.
If you use something like penne, I think it would be best to toss the vegetables and pasta together, then add dollops of truffle caviar on top. You can also make this signature bite quick by purchasing a cold pasta salad (preferably no mayo dressing) and adding the roe on top. Make it extra summery by grilling your vegetables before chopping them up and tossing them with the pasta. The possibilities are plenty.
Our flavored roes are infused with all natural ingredients. The Truffle is earthy and rich and can add a level of sophistication to the simplest of dishes. You can also use it for cheese platters or serve simply with unsalted chips.
Enjoy the rest of summer, my friends.