Our kitchen is all about seasonality. We want to taste the seasons. In the mood for early summer entertaining, with loads of fresh produce from farm and garden and farmers’ markets, I decided to make a terrine with the ingredients from this month’s Paper Chef challenge: dried mushrooms, thyme, vodka and salmon. To that I added leeks, which are plentiful at this time of year, and fresh mushrooms from a nearby farm that sells a variety of mushrooms at our weekly farmers’ market. I added both regular thyme and lemon thyme from my pot garden.
With summery colors of pink and light green, it made a beautiful accompaniment to a cold buffet that also included dark bread, a pea and pea shoot salad, asparagus and other seasonal fare. I loved how the unmolded terrine looked like a cake with pale green fondant and lemon thyme “flowers.” Wedding season anyone?
The flavor powerhouse in the terrine is the mushroom filling, which I made by first infusing hot cream with ground dried mushrooms and then adding it to mushroom duxelles made with shallots, butter and vodka. These were layered with braised leeks in a salmon and smoked salmon base buzzed in the food processor with an egg white and cream.
After baking the terrine in a bain marie, I weighted it down and let it cool before refrigerating it to serve the next day. Remove about an hour before serving so that it can be unmolded gracefully and decorated. It should be served cool for flavor rather than cold.
Salmon Terrine with Leeks and Mushrooms in Vodka Cream
Mushroom in vodka cream (see below)
2 leeks, white and light green sections only
¾ lb skinless salmon
2 oz smoked salmon
1 egg white
1 tsp lemon thyme leaves
1/3 c heavy cream
Prepare the mushroom filling (see below) and set aside to cool.
Prepare the leeks, one for lining the pan and the inner sections of that one and the second for filling. Lightly score one leek along the crease (there’s a little notch on one side) to release one layer at a time. Reserve the center bit. Parboil the leek “leaves” in lightly salted water and set aside to drain, stretching them out flat. Chop the remaining leek center and second leek into ½-inch (or smaller) pieces. Braise in a covered pot with a little butter and water until tender. Season with salt and pepper. The leek mixture should be dry, but if not, dry it in a towel. Set aside to cool.
Buzz the salmon, smoked salmon, lemon thyme and egg white in a food processor and add the cream while the motor is running. Season well.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter a small (2-cup) ceramic loaf pan. Arrange the leek strips neatly in the pan as a liner, and scoop in 1/3 of the salmon mixture, smoothing it out. Add half the sautéed leeks, top with the mushroom mixture and finish with the remaining leeks. Spoon in the rest of the salmon mixture and fold the liner leeks over the top. Place in a pan of nearly boiling water that comes about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the loaf pan and bake for about 40 minutes. An instant read thermometer should read 150 degrees.
Place a foil-covered piece of cardboard cut to fit the pan on top and weight it down. After the terrine is cooled, refrigerate it, weighted, overnight. Remove from the refrigerator about an hour before serving, let it warm up for about half an hour and unmold it. (You can put the pan into a pan of warm water to help release it.) Garnish with more thyme. Serve chilled, sliced in ½-inch slabs. Makes 12 appetizer servings or 6 supper servings.
Mushrooms with Vodka Cream
1/3 c heavy cream
2 tbsp pulverized dried mushrooms (mixed types or a single type ground in a food processor)
1 tsp butter
1 shallot, minced
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms (about 8 cremini)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp vodka
Salt and pepper
Heat the cream to the boiling point, add the pulverized dried mushrooms and set aside, covered, to infuse. Heat the butter in a pot, add the shallots and cook slowly until translucent. Turn up the heat and add the fresh mushrooms, cooking, stirring occasionally, until dry and lightly browned. Add the thyme, stir to combine, then deglaze with the vodka until evaporated. Add the infused mushroom cream. Continue to cook if it’s not already thick.