(The Nosher via JTA) – The older I get, the easier my recipes become. I’ve cooked my share of three-pagers and struggled through dozens of works of culinary art. I’m finished with all that.
But I still want to serve delicious food that looks attractive, especially when the weather gets warm, the sun is shining and I’d rather be outside on the porch spending more time with my family and friends.
It can all be done, even when you want to serve fancy-looking food. For example, when I have guests on a Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon, I usually serve hors d’oeuvres before the meal – just a nibble or two. And yes, I could skip the cooking altogether and offer store-bought somethings from the supermarket condiment bar, but I prefer to make my own, like these lox and bagel bites, which have come in handy on numerous occasions. They take about 15 minutes to prepare and look so pretty on a platter that people think you actually spent a lot of time fussing. The recipe is versatile, too.
All you have to do is chop smoked salmon (you could use any smoked fish), add some sort of onion (I like the color contrast of red onion, but scallion or chives will do), mix in a few drops of olive oil and lemon juice for flavor and enrichment, and add a bit of fresh dill (it could be parsley or cilantro).
For a quick tidbit, spoon the mixture directly onto some bagel chips (or use potato chips, crackers, matzah, pumpernickel rounds). For dairy, spread a thin layer of cream cheese (mascarpone, sour cream, etc.) on the chips first. You can make the salmon mixture a day ahead, but finalize the actual hors d’oeuvre up to an hour before serving (longer than that can make the chips soggy).
This recipe doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg either. Smoked salmon can be expensive, but when I am going to chop it up like this I buy the “ends” and “pieces” that my supermarket sells for less than half the price of sliced (many stores do that).
That’s all, folks. Enjoy the time with people instead of pots and pans.
Bagel Chips and Lox
1/4 pound smoked salmon pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Few drops of olive oil
Few drops of lemon juice
Cream cheese, dairy sour cream, crème fraiche or mascarpone cheese, optional
Chop the smoked salmon into tiny pieces and place in a bowl.
Add the red onion and dill and mix thoroughly.
Sprinkle in a few drops of olive oil and lemon juice and mix.
If you’re making dairy-free appetizers, top bagel chips with salmon mixture and serve.
If using dairy, spread the bagel chips with cream cheese, sour cream, crème fraiche or mascarpone cheese. Top with some of the salmon mixture.
RONNIE FEIN is a freelance food and lifestyle writer. She is the author of four cookbooks and was a contributing editor to “The New Cook’s Catalogue,” the 25th anniversary edition of the James Beard original.