I felt my mom's presence today, even though she died over twenty years ago. I made her creamy, smoky Salmon Mousse appetizer recipe today for a parent meeting. First, I went to my file box of old family recipes where I found the recipe on a scrap of paper in my handwriting. This recipe is always a hit at parties, so I knew I wanted to share it on my recipe blog. However, my handwritten note has no attribution for the author of the original recipe. Then, I remembered that many of my mother's appetizer recipes came from a book called The Rainbow Cooks Hors D'oeuvre. I have some of my mother's old cookbooks at the top of my book shelf, and I hoped that this one was still there. When I climbed to the top shelf, there was the cookbook I was looking for in all its 1973 glory. When I opened the book, I was relieved to find the "Salmon Ball" recipe inside.
What I didn't expect was how emotional this would be for me. On the page I found my mother's handwritten notes for how she tweaked the recipe. Her recipe notes made me feel my mother's presence in my life today, like I was receiving her experienced advice for how to make the recipe better just as I was about to make it. A tear rolled down my face as I felt overwhelmed with emotion. In addition, the cookbook page was even stained with food just like my scrap of paper. The parallel food stains made me feel connected to her, like we both had the same experience making this recipe. The liquid smoke in the recipe must be messy when poured, so use with caution. I also saw the food stains as her imprint on the cookbook which made her feel present today. I am thankful for this feeling of closeness to her.
Next, it was time to get my Salmon Mousse Spread to my meeting. Once again this dish garnered positive reviews, and people wanted the recipe. The smooth and smoky spread tastes great on multi-grain crackers or cucumbers. I like to serve it in a bowl like a dip surrounded by the accompaniments. Next time I want to serve the salmon mousse for brunch with bagels. The best part is that this dish can be made the day before. In fact, I think it tastes even better the second day. My mother served it as the original recipe describes: the salmon mousse is formed into a ball and then rolled in pecans and parsley to decorate the outside. She put the ball on a pink depression glass plate and surrounded it with sesame melba crackers. The image of her dish is still vivid in my mind. Her dinner party guests always enjoyed this appetizer, and this recipe has become a family staple.
Recipe for Salmon Mousse Spread
Adapted from a vintage charity cookbook: The Rainbow Cooks Hors D'oeuvre
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
1 pound (15 to 16 ounces) canned red salmon, skinless and boneless
1 8 ounce block of cream cheese, soft. Regular or reduced fat.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated onion
1-½ teaspoons white horseradish
Scant ½ teaspoon Wright's Liquid Smoke, hickory flavor (near the BBQ sauce at the market)
1. Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften for about a half hour.
2.. Drain salmon. Remove skin and bones, if any. Flake salmon with a fork in a medium sized bowl.
3. Put all the ingredients in the bowl with the salmon, and combine well with a fork or spoon.
4. Serve salmon spread in a bowl as an appetizer with crackers and cucumbers, or serve as a spread for bagels for brunch or dairy meals. Make ahead and store in the refrigerator or serve immediately.