Sunday, July 22, 2012

Celebrating Nora's Salmon Mousse

BREAKING NEWS:  Today we are giving away an advance copy of Lucy Burdette's fantastic new novel, "Death in Four Courses," the dishiest of mysteries and the second in her Key West food critic mysteries to a lucky commenter!  

HALLIE EPHRON: My sister Nora and I disagreed on virtually everything (I barely notice my neck and carry a purse the size of a mailing envelope, just for example.) But on one topic we were completely in synch: food. 

Many Christmases ago she sent me and my sisters Delia and Amy each an accordian pleated  file with copies of her favorite handwritten recipes tucked in. I think it was around the time that "Heartburn" came out because some of the recipes are in that book, too, like the key lime pie that Rachel Samstat throws in her philandering husband Mark's face.

Among the other recipes were "Mrs. Hellman's Pot Roast" which required a can of cream of mushroom soup and an envelope of dried mushroom soup. I never tried to make it. But a recipe I've made over and over is Nora's salmon-yogurt mousse -- the perfect summer treat. It's absolutely delicious, cheap, and healthy.

WARNING (from Hallie): Do not be tempted to use anything but FRESH dill in this, and if you adulterate it with "low fat" mayo or yogurt, you're on your own.

Nora Ephron's Salmon-Yogurt Mousse

1 cup fresh dill
1 cup (she specified Hellman's) mayonnaise
2 cups plain yogurt
1 peeled and sliced cucumber
1 envelope gelatin
1/2 cup boiling water
1 T lemon juice
2 small onions sliced
2 dashes of Tabasco
3 drained anchovies
1 lb. canned salmon with juice (pick through to remove bones)

Chop dill. Mix 2/3 of it with 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 1 cup of yogrt. Chill to serve as garnish with cucumber slices.

In a food processor, combine 1/3 of dill with gelatin, lemon juice, oion, and 1/2 cup boiling water. Process for 1 minute to dissolve gelatin. Scrape side with spatula to push any clinging gelatin into the mixture. Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup of yogurt, salmon and juice, Tabasco, and anchovies. Process 60 seconds until smooth.

Pour into 4-cup mold rinsed in cold water (do not dry). Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve with garnish.


  1. This sounds wonderful. I'll have to try it. My favorite part will be picking the salmon bones out of the canned fish. As kids my sister and I fought over those little bones when Mom was making salmon cakes for dinner.

  2. Really??
    In an article I once read about 'how to get your daily allowance of calcium' they talked about leaving those bones in. (It's either that or six cans of sardines.)

  3. Love the special instructions, Hallie, like only fresh dill, full-fat mayo, and a rinsed mold.

    I also used to love salmon bones! And my sister and I also only agree on one thing, our mother's salmon patties!

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Even though I've come to the point of not really caring to cook much I still look for new, fun recipes (what's with that, I wonder?). This sounds yummy!

    I'm also fascinated with other peoples' cookbooks - looking at their notes in the margin, figuring out which recipes are the most well-loved by the amount of stains and splatters, etc. I think the gift of a someone's favorite hand-written recipes is a treasure, especially from your sister, Hallie. I love this.

  5. I so agree, Kaye! I have my mother's Joy of Cooking -- the cover and most of the index long ago parted company with the pages. But you can easily see which recipes she and I made. Paging through is like a trip down memory lane.

  6. Karen, if you're still there... do you have your mother's salmon patties recipe??

  7. I don't have a mold, but this sounds delicious. Salmon is a delicious way to get your calcium! I wonder how you eat this. Just on the fork, or do you slice it and eat it on crackers. Yes, I have lived a sheltered life. Ha ha.
    I learned to cook with the Kate Aitken cook book, which I threw out when it fell apart. I now regret that.
    Kate Barley - I also read recipes for fun and recreation. Seldom do I cook with all the recipes I use. Sometimes I do, though. This might be one dish I do make.

  8. How to serve: slice it (it's not super firm) and put big chunks on plates with a few cucumbers and an extra puddle of the sauce. It can be a main course or appetizer.

  9. I was with you until I saw anchovies. I can't eat anchovies. The smell takes me back to the pier in California where my Dad and I used to cut up anchovies and use them for fishing bait. Fishing with Pop was a pleasant experience, but I'm not eating fish bait.

  10. I used to hate anchovies... and the little ones in the can are awful if you eat them straight. But 3 of them ground up with all this salmon just adds a nice fishy/salty edge. Substitute a little salt if you leave them out.

    AND... anchovies in Italy are a revelation. The files are about 4" by 2," served brined with lemon and olive oil. SpectACular.

    Do you pass on squid too? Frequently used for bait but mmmmm so delicious. Those fish know what's good.

  11. Salmon bones? Okay, you lost me.

    What's the deal with salmon bones?

  12. Nope. not an anchovy girl. With Jack here. It's like eating--hair.

  13. Salmon has such great nutrients, protein, and love the recipe for the summer. Many thanks. Ate salmon patties all my life.

  14. Hank, salmon bones in the can are little round things that would be crunchy if you don't remove them or if you don't crush them. I always remove them since I don't have a food processor and it messes up the texture in my opinion.

  15. Hank, the bones in canned salmon are edible, and contain a ton of calcium.

    Hallie, would this recipe work as one of those fancy, fish-shaped dishes? With scales made of cucumber slices?

    The recipe for salmon patties is very easy. One can of salmon per four servings, one egg, and enough crushed saltines to bind it when mixed together, probably about a half cup or so. This depends on how juicy the salmon is, and whether you drained it or not. I have made it both ways, well drained and not so well, and I think I like it better with less liquid.

    Form into patties about 3 inches across; cook on medium low heat on each side until lightly browned. Our family always preferred to have these with baked macaroni and cheese. Yum.

  16. Hank (Yes, Virginia...), there are bones in canned salmon. Usually you pick them out before you prepare whatever you're making. Not surprising, they are a great source of calcium should you wish to eat them, which I do not. Please, put them over there with Jack's anchovies.

  17. Indeed this recipe work GREAT molded in one of those fancy, fish-shaped dishes? It just won't have the crisp detail of say a Jell-O mould.

    Copying down that recipe for salmon patties. Sounds like something we used to eat when I was little, on parents' night out. It's been years since I bought saltines.

  18. omGOSH!! i have heard about NoraEphron's recipes & i will treasure this one!!

    thank you for the share & also thank you for the giveaway!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  19. That sounds superb, Hallie, and thanks for sharing Nora's recipe. But could you also use, say, leftover grilled salmon?

    Salmon bones, anchovy spines, great stuff. Hey, I even munch on chicken bones. Learned it in West Africa - yum, sucking the marrow out. Most people think it's kind of an awful habit, though, including the one I live with.

  20. It sounds delightful and wonderful to read this today as I happen to find the movie Sleepless in Seattle playing this morning.

  21. I'm with Jack and Hank on the anchovies. I use dilled garlic in their place in lots of things. Think it would work in this?

    Also, no salmon bones. Pick them out of the canned stuff. It's too easy to get calcium from other yummy things. Salmon patties are one of the easiest things in the world to make. My grandmother always served them with creamed peas.

  22. Joining Hank, Jack and Linda--they do taste like hairy fish bait!

    Such fun to have a batch of old family recipes--hope we'll see more Hallie! I have a recipe card for chocolate cake from my namesake grandmother, Lucille Burdette, but I haven't been able to get past the big wad of Crisco it calls for...

  23. Thanks, Hallie. We have another heat wave predicted for this week and now I know what's for dinner!

  24. You're right, Hallie. I also used squid for bait, but fried up in yummy batter, I don't recognize the smell when I'm served Fried Calamari. In Rome my wife said the same thing as you about anchovies -- while she was plunking them down like candy -- but the smell was the same to me.

    With an appropriate substitute, however, the recipe sounds delicious. Didn't mean to start a brigade of cold-water throwers. :)

  25. I never thought Salmon Mousse would make me cry, but I am sitting here in tears of joy. First you made me laugh. As I prepared for the AAW that you taught at last week, I started your book "Never Tell a Lie", to see how your wrote. I then wondered how Nora would be different from you so I downloaded her book. All week, I kept thinking, Hallie doesn't carry a bag. What's up with that. But I have a sister, so I know how sister's can be. Then I read on. Salmon after death? After my mother died, I decided to make a cookbook of my mother's favorite recipes for the grandchildren. I called my sister to find out what she thought was a "had to have recipe".
    Salmon soup. Were we raised by the same mother? I had never ate salmon soup in my life. Seems when she was young, there is 13 years difference in our ages, Mother would if Mother would make salmon patties for dinner, Dad would say, "There are mighty good, but I think you salmon soup is better." Then when she made the soup, "I think this soup is mighty good but your salmon patties are better." By the time, I came along salmon patties were history.
    One of my favorite traditions in life, is inviting our loved ones who have passed over to our table by sharing with others the foods that we shared with them. But just the thought of it makes me cry.

  26. I grew up on salmon fishcakes made with canned salmon--was this a fifties and sixties thing? And I still make them occasionally, but Edith, I have recently discovered a great and easy recipe for fresh salmon cakes from the fab Robin Ellis: I use the summer version, substituting a little regular flour for the chickpea. My husband doesn't like salmon, but loves these, so it's a win-win.

    Thanks for sharing Nora's mousse with us, Hallie. It sounds delicious. Will get a mold and try it next time I have more than two people to feed.

  27. Family recipes equal yummy food and fantastic memories! Thanks for sharing Nora's wonderful-sounding recipe [which I can't wait to try]. I am fortunate enough to have many favorite recipes from my mom, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother . . . treasures all.

  28. Deb, I grew up with salmon loaf and salmon cakes, too. Maybe it was a 50s/60s thing. I can't stand salmon now. On a trip to Ireland we were served salmon at almost every meal. Yuck! I considered the Guinness to be my sustenance.

    And I'm in the camp that anchovies (furry fish) are vile.

    We have a recipe that's now into its fourth generation. It's an Irish Bread that HAS to be made in a cast iron "spider" which has also been passed down. Family recipes are awesome!

  29. When I was cleaning out my mother's house, I threw away some of her recipe files because I was so overwhelmed with "stuff." I've always regretted it. Making someone's special recipes is such a great way to remember them.

    Thanks for sharing this, Hallie.

  30. Edith if you tried to use leftover grilled salmon you'd have to do something to substitute for all the liquid in with the canned salmon. Some white wine would probably work... but getting the proportions right could be dicey.

  31. That's so sad, Kate Flora ... but I know how overwhelming it can be dealing with so much "stuff."

  32. Cast iron spider?? I have cast iron cornbread molds that I recently de-rusted. Cast iron makes the best crust.

  33. Hallie, a cast iron spider is a cast iron skillet with little cast iron legs.

  34. I still have the little recipe box that I got as a young bride, filled with cards from both our families. Most of the recipe cards were written by people who are now gone yet continue to nourish us with their love in this beautiful way.

  35. (Hope it's legal to comment twice in a day.) Speaking of ancient family recipes: Every Christmas I make each of my grandmother's versions of sugar cookies (varying amounts of sugar, butter, and in one, a cooked egg yolk), and my great-grandmother's pumpkin pie recipe (think half the milk and twice the spices - yum).

    When I was a child, my mother and I were the only two in the family of six who liked creamed tuna on toast. I LOVED creamed tuna on toast, which involved the oil from the tuna can, peas, careful stirring and so on. When I was maybe 10 and working on populating my own (new) recipe box, I asked her for the recipe, assuming it was a long-passed-down family secret. I was crushed when she said, "Go look it up in Joy of Cooking." ;^) It was only later that I realized she really never enjoyed cooking other than sweet baking.

  36. This sounds so good! When using the canned salmon, we always left the bones in.

  37. The recipe was from me, posting anonymously because my Nook apparently hiccuped.

    I think it was a 50's dish, since it seems to have been a diet staple in so many others' childhoods, too.