What if instead of sitting down to a bowl of spaghetti or a plate of chicken we picked from a tray of canapés? It’s more social than “family style” food; handing over a giant bowl of food is for amateurs. With a canapé dinner, the table would become a great tangle of arms as people reached for their morsels of choice. And yet because canapés sound fancy with its French name, the jostling would be surprisingly polite, like when someone knocks into you on a crowded subway and apologizes rather than tells you to drop dead.
I mulled this over while nibbling on some paper-thin slices of gravlax and watching one more Jets season go up in flames. The silky salmon with its traditionally subtle mix of salt, sugar, and fresh dill, was quite delicious. The only thing missing was a little basket of pumpernickel toast points. And maybe a guy passing a tray of mini sliders (is that redundant?) or shrimp cocktail.
If you’re looking for the true family experience, having a loved one serve you waiter-style would be even more bonding, a true sign of giving and devotion. I could go on, but the quail eggs are boiling and the cucumber sandwiches seem to be getting a little soggy.
(NOTE: frying the leaves isn’t as hard as it sounds, though they do tend to burn. Make sure the oil isn’t too hot, stir with a slotted spoon, and remove when they gain color. I haven’t had too much success in a standard blender with the alioli; barring a stick blender, break out the whisk and make it the old fashioned way.)
Gravlax w/ Fried Artichoke Leaves
Makes enough for a few people to snack on for about an hour. Or 4 fancy appetizer plates. Or a platter for 4.
1 pound salmon fillet
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
½ bunch dill, chopped finely
1 lemon, sliced in thin wedges
Fried Artichoke Leaves (see below)
Alioli (see below)
1. Mix the salt, sugar, and dill in a small bowl. Spread half of it on a large piece of plastic wrap. Top with the salmon, skin down. Pour the rest over the fish and wrap tightly. Place in a shallow dish, like a pie dish and weigh down with a heavy baking dish. Refrigerate for 2 days.
2. Remove the salmon, slice paper-thin and arrange on cold plates with the artichokes, lemon, and alioli.
Fried Artichoke Leaves
1 lemon, halved
oil for frying
- To prepare the artichoke: peel off and discard all the dark green leaves, stopping when you’ve reached bright yellow leaves. Using a sharp knife, lay the artichoke on its side and cut off about half an inch from the top. Discard. Next, cut across just above the heart, a few inches down. Save these leaves for frying, If any are too green, discard, as they’ll be too chewy. Rub the body of the artichoke with the lemon to prevent discoloring. Cook it and eat. We’re worried about the leaves here.
- Over medium high heat, bring about 2 inches of oil in a large pot to 325 degrees. Add the leaves in small handfuls and fry until golden but not burned. The center should still be light colored. This takes some practice and about 30 seconds to 1 minute. (see Note)
- Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt.
Makes about 2 cups
4 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped finely
3 tablespoons water
1 cup oil, ½ olive and ½ canola
juice half of a lemon
salt and pepper
1. Add the water and garlic to the bowl of an immersion blender. Slowly pour in the oils, blending, until emulsified. Season with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. To make without an immersion blender, mince the garlic to smooth paste, add to a bowl with the water, and slowly whisk in the oils.