Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Galette

What is a galette?

I tried this unlikely recipe from a new cookbook I received for my birthday from Fortnum and Mason. It is a gorgeous-looking book an inch and a half thick, with creamy pages, a hand-sewn hard cover in brilliant blue, and color illustrations.

For those who don’t know, Fortnum and Mason is an 18th-century department store known for its gourmet groceries. They are still at 181 Piccadilly, in London England, just as they have been for over 300 years. They claim to take extraordinary care over the origins of everything they sell.

So I opened the book with great interest to the first page… only to find Porridge! Just three ingredients – water, salt and oats. Thankfully there were suggestions for toppings to add flavor to what was a painful childhood memory for me.

Many of the other recipes were for British standard fare – grilled kippers, toasted crumpets, sausages, ham, scotch eggs, and various puddings. But one recipe in particular caught my imagination and I gave it a try. I took it to my art group’s potluck closing lunch. People liked it, so I’m posting it here. I, too, thought it was flavorful and “oh so pretty” in my new serving bowl.

The recipe for the pancakes was perfect, but the quantities for the other ingredients were way off. So I’m posting the directions here how it best worked out for me. The biggest problem was with the smoked salmon. It called for 500 grams, a quantity that was going to cost me over $70. This put the dish way out of reach financially… so I bought 200 grams and cut the rest of the ingredients in half. The galette was fine and served 12 easily as an appetizer.

By the way, I changed the name of the dish from a gateau, as it was called in the recipe book, to a galette. “Galette” is a French word for a pancake made with buckwheat flour and usually with a savoury filling. It designates various types of flat, round, or free-form crusty cakes. Well, that is exactly what we end up with here. Now away we go!

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Galette

Serves up to 12 as an appetizer or 6 as a lunch or brunch dish

Make the pancakes

  • 50 grams all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams buckwheat flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200 milliliters milk
  • about 4 teaspoons butter for greasing the pan
  • 8-inch (20-cm) frying pan, preferably with a heavy base
  1. Add about 1 teaspoon butter to the pan and place over medium heat on the stove top until hot but not smoking. A drop of water should crackle when splashed on the surface.
  2. Ladle about half a cup of batter onto the hot surface, tilting the pan so that it fills the base. Cook for one or two minutes, until the surface is covered in bubbles and turns from glossy to dull.
  3. With a spatula, flip the pancake and cook for one more minute. Both sides should be a golden brown. Transfer to a tray.
  4. Turn the heat down a notch and add another teaspoon of butter. If the butter smokes and burns, the pan is still too hot. Wipe out the burnt butter and try again at a slightly lower heat. Getting the temperature right is the hardest part of this recipe.
  5. Ladle another half cup of the batter into the buttered pan and repeat as above. When the pancake is golden on both sides, remove it to the tray.
  6. Cook the remaining two pancakes as directed. You end up with four 8-inch pancakes and no batter left.

Make the cream cheese and spinach filling

  • 150 grams fresh spinach (about one standard-sized bag – I used baby spinach)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 250 grams full-fat cream cheese (one large box) at room temperature
  • 40 milliliters whipping cream (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • grated zest of one (well-scrubbed) lemon
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • salt and freshly ground white pepper (or several shakes of TexMex seasoning) to taste
  1. Saute the shallot in the butter in a 10- or 12-inch pan over medium heat until the onion turns translucent.
  2. Add the washed, unchopped spinach leaves and saute just until they turn color, soften, and reduce in size. Remove from the pan and put them on a few sheets of paper towel. Squeeze the water out as much as you can. Then chop finely on a cutting board.
  3. Put three-quarters of the cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. If it needs softening, you can warm it for a few seconds in the microwave. With a wooden spoon, mash it until it stirs smoothly, working in some salt and pepper (OR some TexMex) to taste. Gradually add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the whipping cream until the mixture has a smooth, soft consistency.
  4. Reserve the remaining quarter of the cheese for the topping.
  5. Add the spinach, lemon juice and zest. If the mixture is too firm to spread, add another tablespoon of cream.
  6. Finish by mixing in the chives.

Building the galette

  • 200 grams thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives to garnish
  • 8-inch (20-cm) springform cake pan OR shallow decorative plate
  • parchment paper cut into an 8-inch (20-cm) round
  1. Line the base of the cake tin with parchment paper OR use your decorative bowl, unlined.
  2. Cover the paper in the tin or the bottom of your bowl with one of the pancakes.
  3. Lay thin slices of smoked salmon in a single layer over the pancake. No need to overlap, but don’t exceed the edge of the pancake.
  4. Spoon one-third of the cheese mixture into the center of the smoked salmon and carefully spread it smoothly to the edges.
  5. Place a second pancake on top of the cheese, add the smoked salmon layer, then top with another third of the cheese mixture.
  6. Place the third pancake, smoked salmon, and the last of the cheese, as before.
  7. Finish with the fourth pancake.
  8. Beat the remaining one-quarter package of cream cheese with a tablespoon or two of whipping cream until it can be very easily spread over the top of the galette. if you have enough, ice the sides as well.
  9. Sprinkle one or two tablespoons of chopped chives on the top of the galette to garnish.
  10. Chill for 4 hours or, even better, leave it in the fridge overnight, to set firmly.

To serve

  1. Keep the galette in the fridge till ready to serve. Cut it into wedges when you take it from the fridge and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving to heighten the flavor.
  2. Serve with a sharp tomato and oregano vinaigrette (recipe follows). You might think the dressing is optional but in fact it packs a marvellous flavor hit. Highly recommended.

Tomato and oregano vinaigrette

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 50 grams ripe tomato, diced (about 1 medium tomato)
  • 100 milliliters tomato passata (a thick tomato sauce without added seasonings)
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry or wine vinegar
  • 50 milliliters good-quality olive oil
  1. Put all the ingredients in a glass bowl and let them marinate for a few hours. Then blend them with a hand-held electric blender, strain through a sieve, and check the seasoning.
  2. If you need to correct the balance, add a little more vinegar, sweetener and/or salt to taste. It should be quite thick.
  3. Guests can top their galette slice with the dressing or leave it on the side to dip. Delicious!

Nutrition

Buckwheat is a grain-like seed that shares many similar properties to cereals but does not come from grass as most other cereals do. It is a pseudocereal, as is Quinoa. It is a highly nutritious whole grain that many people consider to be a superfood. Among its health benefits, buckwheat may improve heart health, promote weight loss, and help manage diabetes.

Smoked salmon, which is prized for its salty, fireside flavor, is often considered a delicacy owing to its relatively high cost. It’s commonly mistaken for lox, another salmon product that’s cured but not smoked. Salmon boasts high-quality protein, essential fats, and several vitamins and minerals. In particular, it offers a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, supplying two essential fats, EPA and DHA, that are important for brain function, heart health, and healthy aging (1Trusted Source). These fats are considered essential because your body cannot make them, so you must obtain them from your diet. But enjoy smoked salmon in moderation because of its high salt content. The high cost should help somewhat with limiting your intake.

What's cookin' with you?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: