When I invite friends over for dinner I like to serve several different wines over the course of the evening. This way I can ensure that the wines match the food perfectly. And I also think it is more fun to serve different wines. I wouldn’t serve the same food the entire evening either would I? Tasting different wines makes great conversation topics. The rule of thumb when planning a dinner party is to count a half to a whole bottle of wine per person. That is around 3 to 6 glasses per person. That seems like a lot but if your dinner starts at 8 and ends at midnight that is a little over a glass per hour. And because you’ll serve food with the wines you’ll find that this amount of wine is not too much and works well. I always set an extra glass for water so my guests can alternate between water and wine. And for the guests that only taste in moderation because they have to drive later I put out an elegant container so they can empty their glass after a few sips. I keep a champagne cooler that I reserve for this purpose only.
It is important when you select your wines for the evening that they match the dishes that you are planning to serve.
When choosing the wine I start with the most important flavour of the dish. In this elegant recipe for a starter the main flavour is the salmon and this is a rich and fatty flavour. The puff pastry and the dressing add depth and different structures to the fattiness of the salmon. The zucchini and lemon bring some freshness to the dish. And finally the asparagus gives the dish some crunch and extra flavour. In my wine I am looking for flavours that balance the fats with freshness and some acidity. A dry white wine is what comes to my mind first. And since I am looking for freshness and acidity I prefer a wine that is from a cooler region. There are many different wines to choose from. A Chablis from the northern Burgundy could be an excellent choice. But make sure the wine has not been aged in barrel. This would add oaky flavours that are too rich. You can also opt for a white wine from the Loire Valley like a Pouilly Fumé. But I like to stay closer to my home and select an Entre Deux Mers. Made from mainly Sauvignon Blanc grapes, the wines from this region are crisp, elegant, and fresh. Just what I am looking for and perfect to accompany this easy and elegant starter.
Smoked salmon mille feuille with marinated zucchini and asparagus
Pate feuilleté or puff pastry, 250gr
Sesame seeds 2 table spoons
1 egg yolk mixed with a few drops of water
6 slices of smoked salmon
6 green asparagus
Lemon juice 3 tbs
Walnut or hazelnut oil 4 tbs
Pine nuts 30g
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C/mark 7. Place the puff pastry on a baking sheet that you have covered with baking paper to prevent sticking. Take a small tartlet form (preferably with sculpted edges) or a glass or pastry cutter to cut out 6 rounds of pastry of 10 cm in width. Remove the excess dough. Prick the pastry with a fork several times to prevent it from rising too high. Brush the pastry with egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake the pastry for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and risen and let cool. Roast the pine nuts in a hot skillet until they get a nice golden colour. This will bring out their delicate flavour. Take of the heat and let the pine nuts cool.
In the meantime prepare your marinated zucchini and asparagus. If you have a vegetable spiraler (this tool looks like a large pencil sharpener) use this cut your zucchinis in long spirals. They will look like spaghetti. If you don’t have a spiralling device use a coarse grater or your food processor to slice the zucchinis in large strips. Cut the woody stem off the asparagus (about 2-3 cm) and slice the spears diagonal in thin ovals. Make a vinaigrette (dressing) by mixing 4 tablespoons of nut oil and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice with salt and pepper to taste. Be careful with the salt because the salmon is already salty. All this you can do well in advance long before your guests arrive. When you are almost ready to start dinner you just need a few more minutes to put everything together. Mix the zucchini and asparagus with the vinaigrette and let the vegetables marinate for 10 minutes. The lemon juice in the vinaigrette will ‘cook’ the zucchini and asparagus and make the vegetables more tender.
Halve your pastry disks lengthwise in two like you would do with a bun and place the bottom halve on a plate. Fold a nice slice of smoked salmon over the pastry. Place a few spoons of the zucchini salad on top of the salmon and sprinkle with pine nuts. Finish with the top half of he pastry.