Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Potato cakes with smoked salmon and herb crème fraîche

Potato cakes with smoked salmon and herb crème fraîche

There was a time when I always had in my fridge a package of smoked salmon. At that time - don't think it was decades ago, just three or four years - my life was completely different than it is now: I lived in Italy (but this is not particularly relevant), my son was not born yet, my future husband worked and lived during the week in a different city and, most important fact of all, I worked. And my job conditioned a lot the rest of my life. I know that all jobs do, but working as a business consultant for a big consultancy firm makes a little more difficult to plan the day schedule: I never knew at what time I would have come back home in the evening, when I came back home. Because I often worked at the clients premises, that could be hundreds miles far from Milan, and maybe finished meetings at 7 pm; then I had to take my car and come back home and, of course, arrived very late. Since my days where a little unpredictable - and I am not a huge fan of fast foods/take away/home delivery - I liked to have always on hand some ingredients to prepare me a decent dinner at any time. And smoked salmon was perfect for this purpose: it goes well with salads and other veggies (I always have vegetables in my fridge, and eat them every day, twice a day if possible), it is tasty, has a wonderful, comforting color and, to me, can add a sense of luxury even to a last minute, improvised meal.
As it saved many of my lonely, late dinners, I still have a sort of affection for smoked salmon, and sometimes buy a package of it. But now, not having the problem of improvising dinners in less than fifteen minutes, it risks to arrive very close to the expiry date without being taken into consideration. And a package of forgotten smoked salmon was the input for this "potato cakes with smoked salmon and herb crème fraîche" recipe.
Actually the potato cakes come from a Jamie Oliver's recipe: he serves them with smoked salmon and boiled eggs. I eliminated the eggs (that I prefer to cook differently) and added some crème fraîche, flavored with two herbs,chives and dill, that in my opinion perfectly match the taste of salmon.
I served this dish for dinner with a rich mixed salad, but it would be perfect for a weekend brunch or a lazy, indulgent breakfast.

Potato cakes with smoked salmon and herb crème fraîche

Potato cakes with smoked salmon and herb crème fraîche 
serves 2
For the potato cakes:
350 g potatoes, peeled
2 spring onions, finely sliced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon butter
3-4 slices good-quality smoked salmon
For the herb crème fraiche:
100 ml cup crème fraîche
2 tablespoons minced dill and chives (but also other fresh herbs work well, e.g. parsley, )
freshly ground pepper
fresh chives, finely chopped, to garnish

Boil the potatoes in water until just cooked. Drain well and, when cool enough to handle, grate on the coarse side of a cheese grater into a mixing bowl. Add the spring onions, salt and pepper, flour and half the butter and mix well. Divide into 6 equal balls and pat into flat rounds. Leave covered in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours (overnight if you can).
When ready to serve, make first the herb crème fraîche: in a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside at room temperature while assembling and cooking the cakes to let the flavors meld (actually the herb crème fraîche can be made up to 24 hours in advance; just remember to take it out of the fridge before starting to cook the cakes).
Potato cakes with smoked salmon and herb crème fraîche

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the rest of the butter. Gently fry the potato cakes, 2 or 3 at a time, for 2 to 3 minutes each side until light brown. Keep warm until you cook the others.

Arrange a couple of potato cakes on each plate and top with smoked salmon. Spoon herb crème fraîche over the salmon, sprinkle over the chives and serve. 

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