Mustard-Chive Butter Toasts with Lox: Appetizer of Champions!

The perfect appetizer for any event. The only thing you’ll have to change are your shoes.

5.00
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Makes: 20 toasts • Prep Time: N/A • Cook Time: 8-10 mins

Straight from the Forq Kitchen!
by Rachel Silver


Mustard-Chive Butter Toasts with Lox: Appetizer of Champions!

Growing up, my parents and I used to walk to our downtown farmer’s market every Sunday and buy slabs of scrumptious smoked salmon and lox. By the time we walked home, that salmon would be long gone. This week I decided to go back to that farmer’s market in hopes of finding the same delectable salmon. Success! But the walk home was excruciating—it took all my Vulcan willpower not to eat the salmon. But we’re here to cook something, right? So to heck with my intense cravings. *Slaps hand away from salmon.* I can do this. We can do this. Let’s cook some tasty toast appetizers. (Please, before I go mad.)

The Cured Salmon, AKA Lox

I picked up these nifty packages of herb-crusted lox. I couldn’t help but turn them into lovely salmon swirls. Who says you outgrow playing with your food?

What’s the Difference?

Let’s talk about salmon. Before swooning over the other ingredients in this recipe, I’m going to address a common misunderstanding and talk about the difference between cured salmon and smoked salmon.

There is a difference between smoked and cured salmon (aka lox).

Lox is prepared by salt-curing, or brining, salmon. Brining means submerging the salmon in salt, sugar, and possible other seasonings. There are different types of brines: dry-brining (curing) and wet-brining. Wet-brining brines the salmon by submerging it in a solution of water, salt, and optional sugar and spices. Dry-brining cures the salmon by submerging it in a dry salt and sugar mixture instead. The purpose of brining is to intensify the flavor of the fish, and cause the salmon to absorb the extra liquid and salt, which makes the salmon juicier and intensifies the flavor of the fish. Meats that are brined (chicken, steaks, etc.) are tastier since they are more tender, juicy, and flavorful. In grocery stores brined meats are often marked as kosher, since brining is a necessary procedure for preparing kosher meat.

There are commonly three types of lox: lox, gravlax and nova lox. Lox is cured or brined and is traditionally made from the salmon belly. Most of the lox you find in the grocery store is not traditional salmon-belly lox. Gravlax comes from Scandinavia, and is cured with traditional herbs and berries such as fresh dill, juniper berries, pepper, and some liquors. Nova lox comes from Nova Scotia, and is cured or brined and then cold-smoked.

All are delicious.

Smoked Salmon is prepared by first salt curing or brining, just as with lox. The next step differs, depending on which type of smoking method is used. There are commonly two types of smoking methods: cold-smoking and hot-smoking. Cold-smoked salmon is smoked in an 80°F environment and looks similar to lox when prepared. Hot-smoked salmon is smoked with heated wood smoke so it gets cooked all the way through and becomes flaky, firm, and drier—when prepared it looks similar to a filet of cooked salmon, but has a slightly firmer outside that forms.

I picked up these nifty packages of herb-crusted lox. I couldn’t help but turn them into lovely salmon swirls. Who says you outgrow playing with your food?

The Baguette

While at the farmer’s market, I also picked up a fresh baguette. (Bragging time.) Um….Yum.

Cooking bread is a personal choice. I prefer slightly crunchy bread, but it’s a fine line between crunchy bread and hard-as-rock or dry bread. If you have your method down pat, pay no heed to my tips. But if you’re feeling lost and seeking guidance to warming-bread-until-warm-and-crunchy-but-not-dry (like I was), I’ve got you covered.

If you want the outsides crunchy but the insides soft, use the broiler. Just a couple minutes is enough—be wary that it’s important to check on bread in the broiler every minute or so because it takes mere seconds for broilers to burn and ruin the toasts.

If you want the less-crunchy-more-warm-and-soft warming method, reconstruct your baguette from the baguette slices, wrap this in foil and bake them in the oven. It’s hard to offer an accurate time estimate, since both baguettes and ovens vary greatly. Generally 10-15 minutes at 375 is a good estimate, but check on the baguette toasts to see how they’ve cooked.

The Herbs

Finely chop the chives and dill. If possible, try to find a lemon off the tree. Tree-picked lemons truly are the best. If an off-the-tree lemon is too difficult to find, and a store-bought lemon is the only choice, I won’t tell.

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The Zesty Butter Spread

Warning. Proceed with caution… butter…

…two whole sticks of golden love to be exact.

I can’t help it. Cooking with dairy. What can I say? You know the terrible saying, “those who can’t do, teach”… well… “those who can’t eat something cook if for others.” You’re welcome.

When juicing the lemon, don’t fear the pulp. Pulp is good. Pulp is excellent.

Add the butter (room temperature for easy mixing), mustard, and lemon goods together and whisk. Sprinkle in the rest of the herbs and continue to whisk.

This does taste as good as it looks.

Putting it All Together: The Toasts

The treacherous part is over. I should have taken my own advice and used room temperature butter. I was impatient and wanted to start cooking NOW. At least I got my arm workout in for the day. On to the fun part.

Adorn the toasts with the zesty butter spread, lox, and an herb garnish. Any way you want. If you enjoy capers and slices of red onion on your morning cream cheese and lox bagel, feel free to get creative and experiment with your garnish. I made way more than I could possibly eat because I couldn’t stop creating these little toast beauties. Luckily I have neighbors.

These are truly tasty. So tasty.

Directions

Here’s how to make this delicious recipe

Preheat the oven to 375. Slice the baguette into thin slices. For bread that is crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle, place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and put in the broiler for just a couple minutes. For bread that is less crunchy, but still warmed, wrap baguette slices in foil and bake them for 10-15, or more depending on the oven and the baguette size. Slices should be golden and crispy, but not hard or dry.

Toast_Lox_4

Slice the baguette into thin slices, and bake until golden and crispy

In a bowl, mix together butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, chives, dill, Dijon, salt, and pepper until blended. Use room temperature butter.

Toast_Lox_5

Mix together butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, chives, dill, Dijon, salt, and pepper

Spread a generous layer of the butter mixture on your baguette slices, and top with a slice of smoked salmon. Or two. Garnish with chives and optional capers.

Toast_Lox_6

Spread a generous layer of the butter mixture on your baguette slices, and top with a slice of smoked salmon

Eat many!

Ingredients

  • 1 long, thin French Baguette
  • 2 sticks butter
 room temperature
  • 3 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 10 oz lox (cured salmon)
  • capers optional garnish

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Who’s Cooking Today

Rachel Silver

Rachel Zoë Silver, a recent Cal Berkeley graduate, has been a foodie since her first sushi at three years old. With heritage from the Pacific Northwest, she learned early how to select the best fish from the Pike Place market. Her parents, also cooks and foodies, schlepped her to the best restaurants up and down the West Coast and through Italy. Rachel was still missing her front teeth when she mastered her grandmother’s Apple Pie recipe. She is still as excited by food as she was when, at 18 months, discovered on the pantry floor, hands and face smeared brown, she declared, “Chocolate is Yum!”

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