Labor Day this year was off to a bad start, the over-dramatized arrival of Hurricane Hermine forcing us to change our long-standing vacation plans at the last minute from a lazy weekend at a Maryland beach to something further inland, like Cayuga Lake in Western New York. The inconvenience proved to be worth it, though. Firstly, the weather was beautiful up there. Then, while Maryland isn’t known for its wine (only its one wine critic), the Finger Lakes are, and I got to try McGregor Vineyard‘s wines made of Eastern European Saperavi, Sereksiya, and Rkatsiteli varietals. And lastly, I went fishing with Captain John.
I’ve been fishing with John for years now — in fact, he guided me on my first-ever fishing trip. This time, we launched from Long Point State Park on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, very close to Ithaca. We focused on lake trout all day, and we had some good action: six fish landed, running from 23″ to 29″, and a few sunburned pictures to prove it. Four of those (fish, not pictures) went home with me, so it’s time to get cooking!
This gave me an excuse to redo some of my existing lake trout recipes, and take better pictures for my Throwback Thursdays on Facebook. You can admire some of the results by revisiting the Salmon Coulibiac, Cured Lake Trout Roe, and Vodka-Cured Lake Trout. In fact, I ended up with so much trout roe that I had to look for other ways to prepare it, and I’ve started working on a bottarga recipe (which, unfortunately, requires more work).
Today’s recipe uses several of those cured trout preparations, albeit in small amounts. The main attraction is a potato cream soup with a poached egg, and if I tried to use my whole stock of lake trout this way, I’d probably be able to feed a few hundred people. The idea is inspired once again by Culinaire Saisonnier magazine. While slowly catching up with my pile of back issues, I came across Nadia Santini‘s crema di patate con uovo pochè, caviale e bottarga di tonno, which she serves at her restaurant Dal Pescatore in northern Italy. And though I wouldn’t go so far as saying that Eastern Europe starts in Lombardy, it seems to me that by changing a few things, and maybe turning a blind eye to the olive oil, we get a dish that could easily appear on the table of a restaurant several hundred kilometers further east. I will just be careful not to pinpoint any precise location on a map, and to stay on the theme of Italy’s relationship with its oriental neighbors. (I could also point out that it’s quite unfair that Saint Petersburg is sometimes called the Venice of North, yet nobody refers to Venice as the Saint Petersburg of the South.)
The recipe is almost shockingly simple. No siphon required, for once. It calls for a piping bag to top the croutons with whipped ricotta (which by the way could be reformulated to include tvorog), but they’ll taste just as good if you use a teaspoon. And if you’ve read Kenji López-Alt‘s The Food Lab, egg poaching will hold no secret for you. As much as I’d love for you to try my trout recipes, you can substitute with store-bought equivalents just this once, replacing the vodka-cured trout with smoked salmon, the trout roe with salmon roe, and the trout-bottarga-whose-recipe-I-haven’t-published-yet with “regular” bottarga of grey mullet or bluefin tuna.
Potato cream soup
Yields 4 servings
25 g celery, brunoise
15 g peeled onion, brunoise
50 g olive oil
330 g peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, medium dice
black pepper, ground
35 g chicken stock
35 g water
220 g milk
- In a pot over medium heat, sauté the celery and onion in the olive oil until soft.
- Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, then cook until very slightly colored, stirring regularly.
- Add the stock and water, cover, and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked.
- Transfer to a blender, and process until smooth.
- Heat the milk to 70 C / 160 F, then whisk in the potato mixture. Rectify the seasoning, and reserve.
Yields 4 servings
12 (about 80 g) small bread slices, halved
about 40 g olive oil
- Place the bread slices on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle both sides with the olive oil.
- Toast in a 200 C / 400 F oven for about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Reserve.
Yields about 8 servings
20 g cream cheese
135 g whole milk rocotta
20 g milk
4 g lemon juice
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, ricotta, and milk on medium speed.
- Scrape down the sides, then add the lemon juice and salt, and mix again. Scrape down the sides and mix once more.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fit with a decorating tip.
Yields 4 servings
salt (see below)
potato cream soup
20 g milk (see below)
about 80 g whipped ricotta
40 g lake trout roe (or salmon roe)
20 g vodka-cured lake trout (or smoked salmon)
small piece of lake trout bottarga (or regular bottarga)
black pepper, ground
- Bring a large saucepan of water mixed with 1% salt to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting.
- Proceeding one egg at a time, break each egg into a cup, then tip into a strainer and allow the excess white to drain. Lower the strainer into the saucepan, and tilt the egg out into the water. Cook for 3 1/2 minutes, gently stirring the water with a spatula every once in a while.
- Take the eggs out with a skimmer, and reserve in a bowl filled with hot water.
- Reheat the potato cream soup, adding a little bit of milk if it seems too thick.
- Pipe some whipped ricotta onto each crouton. Top 1/3 of them with lake trout roe, 1/3 with cured lake trout, and 1/3 with lake trout bottarga grated with a Microplane grater.
- Divide the potato cream soup between bowls. In the center of each bowl, place a poached egg, surrounded by 6 assorted croutons. Season the egg with black pepper. Drizzle the soup with olive oil, and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.