A scrumdiddlyumptious appetizer with prawns

by Bumble Ward
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blue-yellow-table-setting-l.jpgMy favorite thing about book club is that I get to hang out with some of my favorite women in the world. It has become a highlight of the month. We're a diverse lot: both Brits & Americans; a full-time student, a pilates instructor who's writing her first novel, a painter, a former big-time film exec, a pr maven, an ex-pat marketing exec who now raises chickens (and is most generous with her eggs), an actor turned set decorator, a talent manager and me.

The way we've set it up, one person hosts and cooks a main course, and other people bring starters, puddings, wine, etc. Miranda, this week's host, is completely fabulous – an American blue blood, Ivy League-educated, a beautiful blowzy blonde who speaks her mind and loves to have people around her dining room table. Her stepfather, a famous painter, once gave her this piece of advice "Lay the table so that it still looks good when the food is finished" so her tables are filled with glasses and plates in shades of blue and green and turquoise, and bushels of flowers from her garden, and mercury glass candle holders.

We feasted on pasta with oven-roasted vegetables (and special spelt pasta for one of our group recently diagnosed with Celiac's).  And we laughed and laughed as we dissected Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America. (I hated it; everyone else loved it.)

The book this month is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Wendy, who is all kinds of clever (and a brilliant writer to boot) brought a spectacular appetizer and I begged her to share the recipe. It may sound incredibly 1986 but I promise you, it's completely worth it. The recipe is from Josceline Dimbleby's book Almost Vegetarian, "bought at Sainsbury's yonks ago." From Wendy:

Smoked Salmon in Prawn Cream with Dill and Green Peppercorns
So bloody easy. (That's me not Josceline).

2 oz unsalted butter
8 oz peeled (cooked) prawns *(in LA, these are referred to as bay shrimp)
5 – 6 oz greek style yoghurt (a small carton) – last night I used non-fat
1/4 whole nutmeg grated
8 oz smoked salmon
2 teaspoons green peppercorns
handful of fresh dill, chopped finely
2 - 4 pinches of chilli powder
salt

Get out your food processor

 

Melt butter gently in small saucepan. Put prawns and yoghurt in food processor. Add melted butter. Whizz thoroughly until smooth. Turn mixture into bowl and season with grated nutmeg, chilli powder and a little salt. Slice salmon into small pieces. Keep some back for "prettiness at the end" and stir remaining into pureed prawn mixture. Either spoon the mixture into small dishes or keep it in the big one and put in the fridge for several hours. Mix dill with chopped peppercorns and sprinkle all over dish with remaining smoked salmon.

And serve with melba toast.

Or do what I did, which is plonk it all together, run out of time to refrigerate it and serve it in lettuce leaves.

Bumble Ward is a blogger and writer living in Los Angeles.  She grew up with a Norwegian mother and an English father and spent every summer on an island in the Oslo fjord.   www.misswhistle.com

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