Smoked Salmon Cucumber Canapés

Smoked Salmon Canapes | Pinky's PantryI love smoked salmon. It’s delicious made with pasta or turned into a dip for crackers. But my all-time favorite way to eat smoked salmon is with bagels and cream cheese. These canapés are a take-off on the bagel and cream cheese idea. Instead of bagels, I used english cucumbers for a base. I made our family’s traditional cream cheese filling, but I substituted dill for the green onions.

If you’re wondering where to get smoked salmon, Costco carries a Norwegian brand called Foppen that is just wonderful because besides being delicious, the salmon is already thinly sliced and ready to use. The package comes with plain, peppered, and dilled slices. I cut each slice into strips and then roll each strip into a cone to make the little rosette shapes. It’s really easy and looks so pretty on your appetizer table.
Smoked Salmon Canapes | Pinky's Pantry

SMOKED SALMON CUCUMBER CANAPÉS

  • 1 lb. smoked salmon, very thinly sliced
  • 2 english cucumbers
  • 1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsps. fresh dill, chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt
  1. With a fork, score lines down the skin of the cucumbers. Slice scored cucumbers into rounds.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, mayonnaise, dill, and salt until well combined.
  3. Pipe a little cream cheese mixture on top of each cucumber slice.
  4. With a sharp paring knife, cut each slice of smoked salmon into strips approximately ¾ inch wide.
  5. Roll each strip into a rosette shape.
  6. Top each cucumber slice with a salmon rosette.
  7. If not serving immediately, chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Norwegian Smoked Salmon from Costco

Norwegian Smoked Salmon from Costco

Cucumber Date Salad

Cucumber Date Salad | Pinky's Pantry
I was watching “The Best Thing I Ever Made” on the Food Network channel and saw Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian make Grilled Salmon with Smashed Cucumber Date Salad. It sounded really good so I thought I would try it. Wow! I was definitely impressed! It was so easy to do and the salad had such surprising flavor combinations! I loved the bite of sweet date combined with the sour lemon juice and the creaminess of the walnuts.

Chef Zakarian served the salad as a bed underneath a piece of grilled salmon. I didn’t have any salmon when I first made it, but I did have Mahi Mahi so that’s what I used. Delicious! Since then, I’ve served this salad with other fish, like cod, and even with roast chicken. It goes great with anything. Its refreshing flavor is perfect for a summer meal. It’s easy to see why Chef Zakarian is an Iron Chef. His recipe is definitely a keeper!

GEOFFREY ZAKARIAN’S CUCUMBER DATE SALAD

  • 2 English seedless cucumbers, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
  • 3/4 cup finely sliced fennel, feathery fronds reserved for garnish
  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1/2 a large lemon)
  • 4 tablespoons fruity olive oil (preferably from Spain)
  • medium-coarse sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  1. Roll the cucumber pieces up in a clean linen napkin or towel, and then smash them to release the juices, pressing down hard with the heels of your hands while ensuring the towel doesn’t unroll.
  2. Transfer the crushed cucumbers to a cutting board and then coarsely chop.
  3. Combine the cucumbers, sliced fennel, dates, walnuts, chives and some of the fennel fronds in a salad bowl and mix gently.
  4. Dress the cucumber salad with the lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of fruity olive oil.
  5. Season with sea salt and pepper.
  6. Toss the salad lightly.
  7. Arrange equal portions on each of six plates and top each portion of salad with a piece of grilled fish or chicken.
  8. Garnish each plate with fennel fronds and serve.

NOTE:  If you can’t get fennel, you can just omit it. I’ve done the salad with and without fennel and both ways are equally delicious.

Isot Pepper Pork & Cucumber Stir Fry

Isot Pepper Pork Stir Fry | Pinky's Pantry
I was blog-hopping one day when I came upon a recipe for a Pork Cucumber Stir Fry. I was instantly intrigued. Really? Cucumber? I’d never heard of stir-frying cucumber before. I read the post and was even more intrigued. The author talked about something else I’d never heard of called “isot pepper.” Curioser and curioser. She described it as being “imported from Turkey… only a little hot, and with a mahogany color and a mellow, fruity, slightly smoky taste.” Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Thus began the great search for isot pepper. I scoured our local grocery stores, hunted through Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Nugget Market, foraged around the little food shelves at Ross, Marshalls, and Home Goods, and even checked our local health food stores. All to no avail. So I gave up the dwindling hope of physically purchasing it and instead turned to mail order. Voila! Success at last! Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? I should have started here from the get-go, but was really hoping to find it and bring it home on the same day. Anyway, I found it for a fairly reasonable price at The Spice House where it’s sold under its alternate name “urfa biber.” Is that Turkish? And as luck would have it, they were having a “free shipping” sale! The hardest part of the whole online ordering process was having to wait so many days for my pepper to arrive!

But it was worth it. The isot pepper, a reddish-black crushed pepper with a rich, raisin-like flavor and a little kick of heat to it, was delicious! The 2 teaspoons stirred into the dish were plenty hot enough for me, but Old Goat (who loves super spicy food) sprinkled lots more over his plate. And the cucumber was quite the surprise. It retained its crunch through the quick stir fry and meshed with the flavor of the sauce beautifully. This recipe comes together very quickly once you get all your veggies prepped and is wonderful served over hot, white rice.

ISOT PEPPER PORK & CUCUMBER STIR FRY
(Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • lemongrass stalk, tender part only, smashed and finely minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced into rounds
  • 3 stalks green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. isot pepper

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup water
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  1. In a bowl, mix the pork, soy sauce and cornstarch together with your hands.
  2. Heat a wok over medium-high heat, add pork and stir fry until cooked. If you want, you can heat a little canola oil in the wok first before adding the pork. I don’t bother because the pork renders its own fat. At first it will seem like it’s sticking to the pan, but just keep stirring and as it cooks, it will loosen and release.
  3. Once pork is thoroughly cooked, transfer to a bowl and wipe the wok clean.
  4. Put canola and sesame oil in wok and heat over medium flame.
  5. When hot, add garlic, ginger, and lemon grass, and stir fry for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add bell pepper and stir fry for another minute.
  7. Add cucumber and stir fry for one minute more.
  8. Add pork and green onions, and stir fry all together for another half minute.
  9. Give the sauce ingredients a quick stir and pour into the wok.
  10. Stir all together — the cornstarch will cook very quickly and there will be just enough sauce to coat everything lightly.
  11. Remove from heat and stir in isot pepper.
  12. Serve over cooked white rice.

NOTE:  When you plate this, scatter more isot pepper over everything with a generous hand before serving. Alternatively, you could serve this as is and pass a small bowl of isot pepper around for guests to sprinkle on themselves.

[Adapted from Blue Kitchen]