Sunday, August 7, 2022

Elegant Smoked Trout Pate for Sunday Entertaining with Celia Wakefield

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: It's my Sunday, which means it's another amazing recipe from our own Celia Wakefield. I have had this smoked trout pate many time, and can assure you it is divine.  Take some time to put it together and, of you can't eat it at a lake house, you can enjoy it while sitting with your feet in a tub of cold water with a fan blowing on you!

Alfresco dining? We New Englanders look forward to alfresco weather through the winter and into the spring each year. I like to mark our first breakfast on the deck each year with a photo which I inevitably upload to Facebook to make friends envious both of the morning and of the deck with our lake view. As I write the temperature is in the 90’sF, and we have spent the past couple of days in the house keeping cool and dry. But I have not given up hope of Alfresco meals to come, hopefully with friends.


 

Thinking back to meals out of doors in England, one was always on a knives edge as to whether it would rain or no. I can think of several meals on a freezing beach wearing a damp suit because it was a matter of pride to go into the water, freezing or not. But reading about the heat wave in England makes me glad we live in Maine. Julia and I started discussing outdoors food well in advance of the next blog. We are on the proactive, planning train right now and we will have no procrastinating deadlines. If I want to bribe Julia all I have to do is promise her smoked trout pate. In fact when Julia asked me where I had found my recipe for Smoked Trout Pate, and would I share it with you I could not believe that I had not done so already.This is the story of immigration and recognizing my passion.


Arriving in the USA on July 31, 1969 brought me here at a tumultuous time in - Vietnam War, Betty Friedan and women lib, the ERA, Roe vs Wade, Watergate, Cosmo or did you read MS magazine? I was overwhelmed with a myriad new experiences; a guard with a gun, Friendly’s, Chinatown, my first road trip to Vermont culminating in a night in Victor’s bachelor pup tent where I awoke with claustrophobia  in the middle of the night and tried to leave via the side wall, being told loudly by the assistant in B. Altman's that she couldn’t understand what I was talking about. I realized I had a lot to learn. 

 

We lived on 34th and Third in a twentieth floor studio which Victor had found when he arrived early in 1967. Becoming pregnant, I was quite sure that life with a baby needed more space, so we bought a house in the NYC ‘burbs when we learned we would not be returning to the UK. I got used to suburban life, made friends and of course friends = entertaining which for me was a chance to cook something new.


Summers were filled with outdoor activities, festivals and alfresco dining; Shakespeare at Stratford, Ct., music at the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate, the home of the Yale Summer Music Festival, more music at Caramoor. So different from my previous life in London. Each event was an opportunity to create a new recipe and all that went along with it. 

 

Yes, I would pack a cloth, napkins, silver goblets - a wedding gift from my room mates in London - wine, the works. Wine or sangria went into a thermos so as evade the powers of whatever place we were eating. But it was at the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate that I first heard the Tokyo String Quartet and made Smoked Trout Pate as our share toward the diner sur l’herbe. I loved creating meals to go and while I enjoy a tasty sandwich, how much more fun was a spinach quiche, or boned chicken stuffed with Middle Eastern spices. Since my first alfresco efforts I have spread my wings into catering, demonstrations and even helped the Junior League with a cook book launch lunch. At a local country club of course.


But my smoked trout pate is very close to my heart. First with the arrival of the Cuisinart, making pate or pesto, not to mention pastry, spreads, compound butters etc. became a much easier task. I think of the hours spent at the turn of the twentieth century, in the kitchens of the gentry where a teenage girl would work away with a pestle and mortar on sandwich meat or fish pastes (as they were called) for tea on the lawn. With a food processor it becomes the work of a few minutes to mix to the needed consistency.


SMOKED TROUT PATE


Smoked trout usually comes in packs of two fillets which is pretty much the whole trout without the head. The best brand is Ducktrap from Maine but I also buy smoked trout at Trader Joes. I am sure there are other local brands around the country. The other important ingredient is unsalted butter. Here in Maine I can buy Kate’s butter which is also a local and I think spreading further than Maine now. To offer some ideas of quantity, I have made up as little as one fillet with about 2+ to 4 oz butter. But it is really better to use the whole two fillets unless someone in your house likes them for lunch. For a party as part of the food being offered I would use two packs which should give you enough to fill a 3 cup mold like my red fish. 

 

Presentation can be important for a party if people don’t know what it is which is why I use fish related molds or plates. Early in my catering career a lovely Italian man said to me that I should always serve the smoked trout pate molded like a fish whenever possible. I’ve had the fish mold for at least forty years.


Ingredients:


1 pack Smoked Trout fillets

1/2 # unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp grated horseradish (bottled not fresh unless you have it growing)

1/2 fresh lemon juice


1.    Soften butter,( usually a couple of hours on the counter)

 

2.    Squeeze a half lemon

 

3.    Bone the trout fillets - break the trout in half down the line between ribcage meat and top. Put the rib meat into the FP (food processor) with about a 1/4 of the softened butter.

 

4.    Taking the other piece of fish and starting from the head end, break into one inch pieces and carefully feel for the pinbones. The video demonstrates how to find and remove the pinbones even though the fish shown isn’t a trout. I realize that these are very small fiddly bones but in a smooth mix they do show up. I usually use my fingers to remove the pinbones but a small tweezer saves one's hands too.

  

 

 

5.    Add half the lemon juice and all the horseradish to the FP, with more butter and pieces of trout as you bone them. You may not need all the butter and lemon juice or you may find on tasting that you need a little more juice or some of the flavorings. 

 

6.    Mix in FP about 10 seconds then check the consistency. Add a little more butter if it is not smooth enough or tastes dry. You are aiming for a smooth consistency with a taste of the fish, lemon and horseradish. Not adding the butter all at once helps you judge how the mixture is coming together and you will know when it reaches a consistency you enjoy. The amount of fish in the pack is not a standard measure which is why I recommend adding the other ingredients a little at a time. 

 

 

7.    Scrape out into a buttered mold or onto a dish, cover with the used butter papers and wrap tightly in plastic, then refrigerate.

 


Time to serve! I usually serve smoked trout pate with water biscuits, but very thin crisp toast is great too. Did you notice there’s no salt in this recipe? There is plenty in the smoking mixture and the pate shows to its best on unsalted crackers. This is a gluten free recipe so it also goes well on the rice crackers which are GF. I have served it with crudities - in fact, anything it can be spread on.


ENJOY! I hope you enjoy trying the pate as much as Julia does and it is a star in my kitchen.

57 comments:

  1. Elegant, indeed . . . . thanks for sharing the recipe, Celia; I’m looking forward to trying this . . . .

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    1. Celia - you’re most welcome Joan, enjoy.

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  2. That looks so tasty, Celia - thank you! I will haunt Trader Joes for smoked trout next time I go. Question - do you UNmold it to serve?

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    1. Celia - great question Edith. Yes if molded it should be in molded. I know you’re a great cook (loving your books). My technique is to loosen around the mold edges with a thin knife, twist the mold a little, then wet a kitchen towel with hot water, wring out, cover mold briefly, upend again and pray! I try not to use the hot water method for too long as it can melt the markings on the pate. Good luck.

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  3. Fantastic, Celia. I truly love reading your life stories and reminiscences. I grew up attending the Shakespeare in Stratford. My elementary school used to bus us to performances and it is a highlight memory from childhood in the 1950's. I think it was where I first experienced live theater.
    Thank you for a recipe that sounds amazing.

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  4. CELIA: Thanks for sharing your smoked trout pate recipe. We're in the middle of another hot, humid weekend in Ottawa. Yesterday, it felt like 41C/108F and it already feels like 32C/90F at 7 am today, so a cool summer meal sounds like a good plan. I don't remember seeing smoked trout fillets in my regular grocery store but will look for them out at specialty shops or fish market.

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    1. Celia - you have my sympathy Grace, that is some extreme heat. We had rain last night but unlike past years that huge wet blanket of humidity over all of us isn’t moving. Good luck with finding the trout. You can get it by mail order but it becomes pricey. Any decent supermarket should have it.

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  5. Thanks Celia. This looks very good and simple to make.
    Danielle

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    1. Celia- you’re very welcome my sister Anon!

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  6. Brava Celia! Another hot weather recipe to spice up my usual rotation of pasta salad, chicken salad, and quiche.

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    1. Celia- you’re most welcome Margaret.

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  7. Oh my, Celia Wakefield! Once the temperature climbs down from the upper 80s and 90s I will wow my book group with this. Until then, off to find a fish mold.

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    1. Celia - as you can see from the photo I don’t always use a mold but good luck with your search. Just a word of caution, metal molds while easier to unmold from, can mark the pate. Not a chemist but it appeared to be the conjunction of lemon in the pate with the alloy. I’m still searching for a silicone one which would answer all unmolding issues. If you have success do please let me know.

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  8. Celia, thank you for another great recipe! I've been looking for a new hors d'oevres to serve guests, and since we both love smoked fish this will be perfect.

    My Steve often smokes his own fish, usually salmon brought back from Alaska by friends who go every year to fish. If I make this next time we have some I'll let you know how it goes.

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    1. Celia - Karen lucky you, Alaskan salmon. Have you ever made gravlax with it? I would love to do that. Smoked salmon should work though I usually don’t waste it on pate. I have served European cucumber slices topped with smoked salmon and a sprinkle of dill. Great for GF friends.

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    2. When we are lucky enough to get it, there's usually a lot. Salmon are pretty big.

      I've not made gravlax. Steve is only interested in well cooked meats and fish.

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    3. Come to think of it, though, we might have some trout in the freezer. Hmm.

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    4. Someone else suggested smoked whitefish, Karen, and that sounds good, too.

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  9. Sounds so delicious! Thanks Celia!

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  10. Celia - you’re most welcome Gillian.

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  11. I *LOVE* smoked fish, esp smoked trout, and turned into pate it's sublime. You used to be able to get it at Legal Seafood here in the Boston area. But if you haven't got a trader joe's nearby these days it's hard to find. I buy it whenever I see it, and Celia THANK YOU for the recipe! I plan to make it.

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    1. Celia - Hi Hallie, loved the pic of you with Rhys on Fb, I’m sure you had a great time. Legal made a smoked bluefish pate that I loved, loved - till they didn’t! Oh well. Whole Foods usually carries Ducktrap smoked trout but I don’t care for their pate.

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  12. Yes, I did read MS magazine, from the very first issue for a couple of years. Celia, you always make such delicious looking food and it always seems effortless. A favorite author from several years ago, Philip R. Craig, had a character who was always going on about his smoked bluefish pate that he made, from a smoker he made from parts scrounged from the dump. Then in his cookbook he finally gave us the recipe. However, since I never had either the fish, not the ability to catch any, I never made any. Hir recipe involved cream cheese, instead of butter, and he added minced red onion, which I don't think I would care for with fish. So I will now be on the look-out, Celia for smoked trout and see if I can make a batch of your recipe myself. Thank you.

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    1. Celia - thank you Judi. I still mourn the smoked bluefish pate from Legal Seafoods menu. It’s worth asking in your supermarket if they have or can get packs of smoked trout. Oh, and it freezes well too.

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  13. Julia, you have my sincere condolences on the loss of your father.

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    1. JULIA: You have my condolences on the loss of your father. Diana

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. Julia, I hadn't heard about your father. I'm so sorry. Sending hugs and love and a peaceful passing for his soul.

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  14. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 7, 2022 at 10:36 AM

    You are such an absolute treasure! Your recipes are always wonderful, but the way you relate them, and describe them, makes me fall in love with them and you again every time. And I love love love trout pate, it sounds terrible, I have to admit, but wow, it is swoon worthy.

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    1. Hank, it's so good, you can't even believe. Celia let me scrape out the Cuisinart, and I did so without shame.

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    2. Celia - Aww Hank, I'm blushing, such compliments from a real author, thank you my dear. I can't wait until either Julia finishes her book in which case we will have a launch party at Olivia's and you can all come and I can meet you.

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 8, 2022 at 1:20 AM

      Yes yes yes! I will get into the car right now if need be…. Xxxxx

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  15. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 7, 2022 at 10:37 AM

    Oh, yes, Hallie, the legal seafood bluefish pate. Was absolutely incredible. And I think it had cream cheese, didn’t it? oh, I absolutely loved it.

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  16. CELIA: Happy Sunday! The recipe sounds great! I can imagine the culture shock when you arrived in the States. I hope that you and your husband had health insurance when you had your baby, since we do not have NHS in the States. I remember living in England for two months. It only cost less than a pound to get my eyeglasses fixed when it broke. People thought that I was English or Irish with my auburn hair and freckles. Yes, I wanted to stay in England. If I only had married that cute British fellow. Oh well. I was at Oxford for the summer. I took a class there as part of my History studies at my Uni in the States. I remember MS magazine because I often saw the magazines on the coffee table in the living room. And policemen with guns! Yikes! That must have been scary! I do not like guns. Yes, my father taught me how to use a gun.

    Your summers sound idyllic. I can imagine how different life is in the States in contrast to living in England. For starters, driving on the right side of the road instead of the left side. There are different names like sweaters for jumpers. In the States, I have only seen Orange Marmalade. I remember that when I lived in England, there were more variety in the marmalades. I think perhaps because of the soil and where the fruits are growing on land?

    Diana

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    1. You know, Diana, that's an interesting question. I can't imagine the lack of a variety of marmalades is because of the types of fruit grown - the US has such a varied climate we can grow everything except, I think, the most tropical fruits here (and we can do those in Hawai'i!) I suspect it has something to do with taste (we like food sweet in the US) or even the availability of sugar, which was cheaper and more plentiful in the US all the way back to colonial times.

      I'd actually like to research this!

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    2. Celia - Hope your having a Happy Sunday too Diana. Yes it was a huge culture shock. When I first arrived Victor was 'on assignment' so all our health care was still provided by his employer and I had a private room in NY Hospital all paid by the Company. We miss those days though our health insurance is good even on Medicare. Language was interesting, I still find I get caught and of course, Maine is completely different. Marmalade - yes well, I now buy my English marmalade from Amazon, yes please don't ban me. A friend here has a place to buy Saville oranges and I need to get the connection from her.

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  17. This does sound elegantly delicious.
    When you say "1/2 fresh lemon juice" do you mean 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced? Or is the 1/2 a measurement, like tablespoons?

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    1. Libby, Celia juiced half a lemon, and kept the other half around in case it needed more after tasting.

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    2. Celia - Haha - you know what Julia did with the other half of the lemon! Yea, its summer G&T's all round. I only use fresh lemon, and the measurement is to taste. I do hope you make it Libby.

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    3. Thank you. I intend to do so.

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  18. I was so happy this morning when I saw it was a "cooking with Celia" post! And I adore smoked trout pate, but have never made it. So next time we're entertaining, or eating alfresco (not anytime soon in Texas!) I'm going to make this!

    And I love your stories, Celia!

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    1. Any sort of smoked fish pate or dip always makes me think of Caroline Todd, who loved them. One of our often remembered book tour highlights was the smoked white fish dip we had at a little place in central Florida.

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    2. My oldest daughter and her husband buy smoked whitefish dip from a place in Charlevoix, Michigan. They will go way out of their way to get some, if we ask. It's fabulous.

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    3. I really do love this pate, Debs, and it was the first time I'd seen Celia actually make it. I was surprised at how easily it came together - really, the only fiddly bit is pulling out the bones. And it keeps well in the frig, so it's the perfect showy bring-to-a-party dish.

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    4. Celia - Bless you Debs, all the JRW's are so kind to me. I can't wait for your new book. I am a HUGE fan and will want a signed copy please. Do you want a launch party near Boston? My daughter has a large house and would love to have all my friends over. You could make this with your eyes closed I know.

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  19. The dish looks wonderful and I love Ducktrap products. I grew up in Maine, now in Minnesota, and return to visit family and eat seafood--outside!.

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    1. I'll bet you can find some wonderful fish in Minnesota as well!

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    2. Celia - Hello my sister Anon, thank you so much. We are all short changed by Blogger. You should contact us when you come to Maine. I love to meet other JRW fans.

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  20. Celia, that looks divine! Al fresco dining with trout pate in a lake house sounds like heaven.

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    1. Jenn, it's SO GOOD. And yes, it's very nice to have a friend with a lake house :-)

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    2. Thanks Jenn, perhaps you guys will come for a Maine vacation sometime. I realize you must be going through more heat than you need right now.

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    3. Celia - Thanks Jenn, perhaps you guys will come for a Maine vacation sometime. I realize you must be going through more heat than you need right now.

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  21. Lovely stories, Celia! You moved here at a very tumultuous time. 1969 was not a stellar year! I love the ease of your recipe but I cannot eat smoked seafood. Bad things happen if I do!

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    1. You'll just have to admire it from afar, then Pat - we don't want you winding up in the ER because of a pate!

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    2. It wouldn't be an ER matter. More like my version of The Exorcist!

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  22. Celia - Thanks Pat, I do love sharing my tales so really appreciate everyone's feedback. I'm so sorry that smoked seafood doesn't work for you but keep out of hospitals at any price particularly now.

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