Several hours prior to our dinner guests’ arrival, I was still uncertain about the nature of my hors d’oeuvres. Rummaging through the fridge for inspiration, I came up with a few creative options and got to work. A day earlier we had purveyed a variety of seafood, meats, and produce at Arthur Avenue, in the Bronx (see pix below) so I was confident that I would have an assortment of delicious ingredients to use in several inventive dishes. It wasn’t until after I was almost done that I realized there was a common thread to my food preparations and presentations. Was it subconscious, I wondered? Here is what I gathered and assembled.
It’s hard to resist the elegantly tiny quail egg, so I boiled a handful which I then peeled and cut in half, arranging them in a pattern on a serving plate, around a whole unpeeled quail egg. Using a snack-size Ziploc back with a tiny hole cut into one corner, I squeezed a dab of spicy chili mayo on each half egg and topped that with the tiniest fresh leaves from the oregano plant that grows in my kitchen. For the first time ever, I bought some flounder roe the day before so I decided to prepare a dip with it (see recipe below) and to serve it with bits of my homemade salt-cured salmon and some red and green caviar. In case you haven’t yet seen the pattern here, my hors d’oeuvres turned out to be all about small eggs – quail eggs, roe, and caviar — perfectly fitting for springtime and an early Easter celebration with some friends. I’d like to thank our surf and turf oviparous friends for their oval contribution to my “pretty” hors d’oeuvres offerings or, as Andrea commented, “wonderful appetizers, so tasty and artfully prepared.” Those were a few of the adjectives I heard last night – and, thankfully, they were all good!
Creamed Flounder Roe
Poach a whole piece of roe in warm salted water for about 5 minutes, careful not to let it boil. Drain and transfer briefly to a bowl of iced water. Remove the membranous skin from the roe and dip the piece(s) in a beaten egg, then coat with fine breadcrumbs and sauté in a pat of butter. When done, transfer the sautéed roe to a small food processor and add 1-2 tablespoons of goat cheese and 1-2 tablespoons of half and half or cream and some chopped dill. Keep pulsing until a creamy consistency is achieved and add more liquid and salt if needed. I served mine over oven toasted Indian cumin mini-papadums, but any delicate cracker or crostini of your choice will do.