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 made the Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Select Caviar
dish a couple months back, I had a lot of extra boiled cauliflower florets leftover. Not wanting to waste them, I put together a dish that is a twist on our Luxe Signature Bite for our Golden Reserve Caviar
. The Signature Bite is vanilla bean butter poached lobster atop cauliflower puree and dolloped with caviar. My dish is less intimidating but no less "luxe" and makes another great small bite for the holidays.
I took the leftover florets, mashed them up, mixed in some breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper to taste, until I could shape the mixture into patties. I set the patties aside in the fridge while I prepared the lobster. At one of my local grocery stores they will actually steam the lobster for you. This is amazing and one of my most favorite things ever. So I had a few lobsters steamed, cleaned them and cut the meat into bite size pieces. I then melted some butter in a saucepan and scraped in some vanilla bean.
Next, I took the cauliflower patties out of the fridge and pan fried them, making sure they were nice and crispy on both sides. I tossed the lobster pieces in the vanilla butter and topped each patty with the lobster. Then I dolloped with Golden Reserve Caviar and garnished with microgreens for color.
I love that I salvaged some leftovers and created a fun and decadent dish to share with you.
Order some Golden Reserve Caviar and make these for your next party.
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.
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.