Smoked Salmon Pâté

by Jenn on June 13, 2010

in Daring Kitchen,Diabetic Friendly,Dips and Sauces,Flops,Gluten Free,No Cook,Seafood,Snacks


I don’t usually write about my failures in the kitchen – after all, who wants to try a recipe that didn’t work?  However, at the risk of sounding cliché, I’m learning the slow lesson that life is not always about the end result, but about the process that one went through to get there.

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

Daring Cooks always post on the 14th of the month, but I made this attempt over two weeks ago.  So it appears a little out of order if you remember it was just last week that I had a miraculous find of guar gum in a natural foods store.  This attempt happened before I had guar gum and before I found gluten free bread mix.  We were charged with making baguettes, and after finding an awesome gluten free baguette recipe to try, learned that it would not happen without xanthan or guar gum. So, I took one of my sandwich bread recipes, and made a go without any binding agents by adding in some extra eggs and playing with the ratio of flours a bit.  I have also since learned from one of my favorite gluten free chemists that gelatin or agar agar should never be used in baking, because they turn the products too brittle.  I guess when making pitas or pizza dough it hasn’t been a problem for me because they are pretty flat to begin with, but for a crusty bread, brittle is definitely not a quality I’m looking for.

Unfortunately, playing with flour/liquid ratios in baking is tricky business, and when the ingredients are already quite pricy, one really has a limited number of tries to allow themselves to work on this.  I tried anyways.  After rising though, it was apparent that this dough had the air trapping ability of a rock – in fact, it even looked like a rock. I knew there was no way this was ever going to turn into bread, so I ended up making mini flatbread rounds out of it during the 2nd “rising time” (if you can call it that). As a flatbread, it’s not bad. As a yeasted bread, it’s a TOTAL failure.

So, while I don’t have a new gluten free bread recipe to share, I can share the lesson that I learned.  Gluten free breads NEED a gum as a binding agent.  They need it like I need an espresso in the morning in order to function.  They need it like I need my internet to not shut off randomly during the day when the router is in the apt. two floors below me and if those tenants don’t happen to be home at the time I’m sunk unless I make the commute into back work after just leaving the place.  Yes, I know that last sentence is a run on.  My very life is a long run-on at times.  Though now that I have the proper ingredients, I will be trying that baguette recipe I found.  I just haven’t had time yet!

For the pâté, I kept it pretty simple, combining smoked salmon, garlic and cream cheese, and then wrapping it in a mustard/chive & dill pesto. I own no dishes that could mold anything, so I rolled it into a baguette shape and sealed it shut in some plastic wrap and placed it in my fridge. After 24 hrs it still hadn’t set. There are gnomes in my fridge, they turn the dial up to max temp. when my husband and I aren’t looking.  Seriously, every time we go into the fridge the dial is turned up, and we are both turning it down.  No idea how it keeps getting turned back up!  As a result, nothing in our freezer freezes and our fridge is not a proper temperature for storing much of anything, let alone allowing a pâté to set.  So if you are looking for something quick that you can throw together, this smoked salmon pâté is awesome!  If you are looking to fulfill the requirements for this month’s Daring Cook’s challenge, it’s a total failure.  These were the mandatory requirements:

-You must prepare one pâté recipe listed below (exceptions are allowed for participants with food restrictions, and vegans may choose their own substitutions) and one bread recipe of your choice.
– Your pâté has to 1) be baked or refrigerated (or both) for a significant amount of time, so that 2) you
have to be able to unmold it onto a serving dish. This is to avoid the possibility of someone puréeing a bunch of vegetables, putting the mixture in a jar, and calling it “vegetable pâté”: that is not a pâté, that is a spread.

So in the end, my pâté is no better than a food processed spread that anyone could make in 10 minutes, exactly what I was supposed to avoid.   Oh, and my pâté is not one of the recipes listed.  I think I’m probably the worst at following directions in all of the Daring Cooks!

If your fridge actually gets cold though, I highly recommend this smoked salmon “pâté”.  It would be great on top of baguette slices, or even crackers, and a tasty party appetizer if you have company over.  Again, no cooking required, so perfect for summer!


8 oz. smoked salmon
4 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 batch chive & dill pesto
2 tbs. mustard

1.  Purée smoked salmon, cream cheese, and salt together until homogenized.  Transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap and roll it into a long shape like a baguette (this is a little messy).  Then cover entire roll with plastic wrap, twist the ends to seal it and keep in the fridge for 15 minutes to keep it cold.
2. Remove from the fridge and unwrap.  Mix pesto & mustard together.  Gently press a layer of “pesto” all around until you have covered the entire roll.  Then re-wrap and place in the fridge at least 2 hours for it to “set”.  Though if you are quick you can probably just skip this 2nd chilling step and serve immediately.
3. When ready, remove from the fridge, slice with a clean sharp knife, and enjoy!



Heather @CeliacFamily June 14, 2010 at 4:05 am

Looks good to me! And I love that it’s a quick and easy recipe to prepare.

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 7:03 am

Thanks! It was quite tasty, just not really what the goals of the challenge were – But I will definitely be making it again!

chef_d June 14, 2010 at 4:55 am

Yummy looking smoked salmon pate, I will definitely try this!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 7:04 am

Thanks! I hope you like it!

Jessica June 14, 2010 at 5:49 am

Jenn!! This looks fabulous! I just forwarded it to my mom!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 7:04 am

Oh awesome! If she tries it, let me know what she thinks!

jo June 14, 2010 at 7:17 am

Looks really good and I love that it’s smoked salmon. Great job on this challenge and great photos too.

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 10:40 am

Thanks so much!

Rosa June 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

That pâté looks wonderful! A summery and flavorful dish. Yummy!



Jenn June 14, 2010 at 10:40 am

Thanks! It’s quite summery, and I love anything that doesn’t require turning on a stove right now!

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

It looks wonderful and hey – I ended up making the food processed “spread” too, even though it set in the fridge overnight. I also didn’t make the bread, so we can join the naughty corner of Daring Cooks this month together!

I love that you posted about something that didn’t work – it really makes you so much more human!!! Who wants to come to a blog and read only about perfect, intimidating sounding recipes? Thank you for showing that the process is SO important – even more important sometimes than the end result!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 4:40 pm

well good to know I am not alone this month! Yes, sometimes it is good to write about what doesn’t work out, maybe it is just as important as what does come out well…

Saskia June 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Good work! I have to admit, we didn’t exactly follow the challenge requirements either. I like to think we all followed the spirit, though.

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Thank you! Yes, the spirit was there – there was lots of spirit I assure you!

Julie M. June 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Looks good to me! Even if you didn’t follow exactly, it still sounds like you had a great end result and as they say it’s not the destination that matters so much as the journey you took to get there. Nice work!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Thank you!

Audax Artifex June 14, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I feel you are too harsh on yourself I think your “pâté” looks wonderful and gluten free baking is really really hard in it self and your flat breads are a great idea and a valiant effort without binding agents well done. And your photo is superb. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Aww thanks Audax – it was just a little depressing when I reread the instructions and found my creation was exactly what it should not have been…but you are right – it was still quite tasty, and the flatbread rounds worked rather well considering. So it was not a complete loss. And now that I have found the ever elusive guar gum you can expect a gluten free baguette attempt soon!!

lo June 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Looks great to me! I think this challenge really was all about the journey — and you’ve mastered that aspect! Will be rooting for you in your search for better GF bread!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Thanks! If I make a successful GF baguette I will make sure to let you know!

Maranda June 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I still think yours is one of the best looking pates. I’m actually really excited to give it a try!!! It looks so delicious and the ingredients make me hungry. I think you did a fantastic job!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Oh thank you so much! I’m glad you like it!

Feng June 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm

wow, you’re pate and gluten free bread looks amazing!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Thank you! I can’t wait to make it again!

ap269 June 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm

This looks very tasty! I’ll definitely make this salmon spread – we LOVE smoked salmon!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Thanks! If you try it I will be curious to know what you think!

blepharisma June 14, 2010 at 7:31 pm

I love the look of the pesto around the pate. Nice!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Thanks! I wasn’t sure of the match til I tried it, but the flavors worked really well together.

Miriam/The Winter Guest June 14, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I’m glad you left me a comment, so that I could discover your blog! Maybe you’re unruly, but I must admit your pâté looks delicious… I’m a salmon geek.

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Oh thank you!! I love salmon pretty much any way myself…but smoked is my favorite!

Charli June 14, 2010 at 8:04 pm

I once read a published paper titled something like “Why ___ does not work for ___” and can just picture some poor graduate student wasting 4 years on something determined to get at least some sort of paper out of the deal. But sometimes it really is about the process and figuring out what doesn’t work so you can do it even better.

At least you got a tasty (and beautifully appetizing, from the looks of your picture) treat out of the deal. 😉

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Ha yes I have read papers like that too….I’m glad we got a tasty lunch (or 2) out of it!

Valérie June 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

It really doesn’t matter that your pâté didn’t hold: you tried, and that’s really all we ask. And it looks beautiful and delicious, regardless! Thank you so much for cooking with us this month!

Jenn June 14, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Thanks Valérie! And thanks for hosting! It was definitely a learning experience for me!

monkeyshines June 15, 2010 at 2:35 am

Sorry this challenge was so, er.. challenging. I think that your result looks really tasty. And it sounds like you have a source for another attempt at baguettes which is great!

Jenn June 15, 2010 at 6:18 am


Robert June 15, 2010 at 3:36 am

Set up or not, you created a beautiful dish. I have made a similar smoked salmon dish many times. None of my attempts looked nearly as beautiful. That pesto really does set off the color of your pate.

Jenn June 15, 2010 at 6:19 am

Thank you! I think figuring out how to photograph the pâté was also a good challenge!

Meg @ Gluten-Free Boulangerie June 15, 2010 at 5:09 am

I just wanted to bring up your point about not using gelatin or agar in baking…I have used both in yeasted bread and have never noticed any brittleness. I wonder if it depends on what other ingredients are used with it?

Jenn June 15, 2010 at 6:44 am

You know, it may depend on the other ingredients, and the amount used. Do you use other binding agents in combination with the gelatin like egg whites? I asked about using gelatin in the comments of the baguette recipe I found and he told me that gelatin could not be used to replace the guar gum in his recipe.

When I use gelatin, I notice great things before baking – in the absence of a gum, geltain does wonders for being able to handle gluten free dough. When working with both my pizza and my pita dough it’s wonderfully malleable before it goes into the oven. However, the pitas never puff up into characteristic balloons like that of wheat-based pitas – suspect that heat treatment removes the elastic quality that the dough had before baking, sufficiently “hardening” the bread to prevent it this from being able to occur. I’d like to test exactly what the difference is in outcome if I switched to using a gum instead.

If I understand the chemistry correctly, I think a gum would not only provide stretchiness to the dough, but also be more stable upon baking so that some of that elasticity is still retained in the final product. I should run a test of 3 batches of bread – no binding agent, gelatin, guar gum, maybe with my sandwich bread (something I know I can make). Haha, I always turn my cooking into a big chemistry experiment! I can never get away from science 😉

I would be very curious to see your bread recipes that use only gelatin – I searched the internet for hours, asking the Daring Kitchen and the Twitterverse as well and was unable to find any!

Donna June 15, 2010 at 5:31 am

Such beautiful presentation – so elegant. Great job!

Jenn June 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

Thank you! I’m glad you like it!

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz June 15, 2010 at 6:59 am

I know how hard it is to post what you think is a failure. But I think your results are awesome. I am hungry now and its bed time by looking at your pics. Thank for participating in our challenge.

Jenn June 15, 2010 at 7:15 am

Thank you Evelyne for hosting, and thanks for the encouragement!

Sortachef June 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I don’t know, Jenn. It all looks really good to me… Scrumptious, appetizing, and tasty with a good photo to boot!

Jenn June 15, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Aww thanks! It really was tasty, just not what I was originally going for :)

tariqata June 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Challenge requirement or no, your smoked salmon pate sounds like all kinds of delicious to me!

(Also, I have those same fridge gnomes! Very odd.)

Jenn June 15, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Thanks – ha where do those fridge gnomes come from anyways?? gah!

Lynne June 15, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Your bread looks awesome and the texture of it looks great with the smooth salmon pate which also looks wonderful with the chive and dill pesto.No one would ever know that your flatbreads weren’t intentional, but it’s great that you can make your “failure” into something so delicious looking.

Jenn June 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Thank you! It was def. a learning experience!

Shree June 15, 2010 at 8:04 pm

ooh a lovely no-cook pate! great idea

Jenn June 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Thanks! I’m all about no-cook these days, it’s too hot to turn on the stove for very long!

Magic of Spice June 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm


debbie T June 16, 2010 at 1:27 am

hmm, this looks really yummy. I think I would like the salmon much more than the trout in the original recipe!

Jenn June 16, 2010 at 11:30 pm

haha – I love smoked salmon, but I think next time I would like to make the trout and make a proper pâté! We should switch :)

Lisa June 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm

You would never know there was any problem at all with this gorgeous pate, and the idea of smoked salmon is right up my alley – why didn’t I think of that?!?! Beautiful and delicious job!

Jenn June 16, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Thank you so much! I’m glad that it was still yummy & tasty, even if it wasn’t what I originally intended :)

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