I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again. When it comes to choosing my favourite food blogs, I tend to lean towards those of the regular experimental home cook rather than the all-singing-all-dancing blogs of the would-be food stylists. Sure, on occasion I can be sucked in by the glossy and polished. Much as I try to wean myself off, there are a few such shimmering blogs that I simply can't resist. And occasionally comment on. Even though I know that my penny's worth will be lost amongst the hundreds of others that similarly worship at their altar of polished foodieness or addictive writing in one such case. But really, my real food blog love is reserved for those ever-so-slightly less perfect. Those who share their failures as well as their successes. We can't be perfect in the kitchen EVERY day. For me, a good food blog is as much about the writing as it is the food. I want to hear the story behind the dish. Even if that story tells of a dish that didn't turn out as well as expected. I loved reading about Wendy (of A Wee Bit of Cooking fame) as she journeyed her way from wedding cake disaster to wedding cake perfection. I found myself chuckling away as I read of The Phantom Chef's revolting goats cheese jelly. This is not because I take pleasure in people's failure, you understand. I just feel that these are people I can identify with. Whilst the vast majority of things that come out of their kitchen are perfection personified, there are the odd difficulties too.
All this preamble is to warn you that I am about the present a less than perfect dish. In my defense, I would like to tell you how delicious it was. It just didn't look as good as I'd hoped. What I had been planning, was one of those oh-so-pretty-when-sliced terrines that you feel awfully smug about slicing up at the table. The recipe came from a Christmas magazine supplement one year - I cannot remember which magazine or which Christmas. The photo showed a stunning terrine cut into a neat, firm slice with layers of smoked salmon, pretty green cucumber and creamy loveliness. It didn't look at all like this...
I remember that my mother made the terrine that Christmas. I recall that it was a little tricky to slice. But I seem to remember that it still looked vaguely akin to the picture. Smug smiles all round. I also recalled (too late)that I made the very same terrine soon afterwards for a dinner party and that I was disappointed that I couldn't slice the thing and that it looked all messy. Not a smug smile to be seen.
But as I say, I remembered this last fact too late. I remembered it upon slicing my latest effort. It was all soft and impossible to slice. The creamy filling oozed everywhere and ended up looking like a bit smoked salmony, cucumbery mess.
All is not lost however. It still tasted delicious. Plus I have theories for why it didn't quite go to plan. Firstly, in a rare health-conscious moment, I decided to opt for a low fat Boursin rather than the full fat beast. I've had a problem with using low-fat cream cheese in other recipes in the past. Next time (yes, I did say next time) I'll use the real deal. I'll also chill it for longer and weight it down with something heavier than a couple of packs of butter. Maybe this will help. Maybe it won't. Maybe I'll have to re-christen it 'smoked salmon and Boursin surprise'.
Smoked salmon and Boursin Terrine
80g Bousin cheese with garlic and herbs (or other brand of garlic and herb soft cheese, I guess)
200ml creme fraiche
2 tbsp freshly chopped dill
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
600g smoked salmon
1/2 a cucumber
salt and pepper
1. Mix Boursin, creme fraiche, dill and horseradish together in a bowl, season and then cover with cling film and chill.
2. Line a loaf or terrine tin with cling film leaving plenty hanging over the edge and then line the base and sides with smoked salmon...
3. Halve the cucumber lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Using a potato peeler, peel strips of cucumber and arrange half the strips on top of the salmon, lengthways.
4. Spoon half of the cream mixture on top of the cucumber and smooth over. Top with 2 layers of smoked salmon and then the remainder of the cucumber slices.
5. Spoon over remaining creamy mixture and top with 2 more layers of smoked salmon. Cover with overhanging cling film, weight down and chill for at least 4 hours, or ideally over night.
6. When ready to serve, unwrap and turn out onto a flat surface. Slice with a very sharp knife and if you are lucky you should get a perfect slice with layers of pink, green and white. If so, smug smiles all round. If not, you'll get something looking a little more like this...
If so, grin and bear it. It'll still taste pretty good!