When July arrives, Puerto Ricans flee the bustle of city life and make their way to one of the many strips of beach in our 100 x 35 mile island. Salty air clears away the noise and staleness of the mundane. Be carefree, darned it – it almost screams at us. It has been quite the breezy – if hot – weekend here at the Humacao beach where we try to spend most long weekends. The wind has cleared up many rain showers fairly fast, lulled us to nap, and given us a soundtrack to relax to. I will definitely miss it once we are back to daily grind.
Beach weekends call for meals that are easy to pull off, often prepared before heading to our destination. The snacks concocted for taking to the beach or entertaining need to be simple enough to be prepared with basic kitchen equipment. On previous visits to the Humacao apartment, I’ve hauled over my stick blender/mini food processor combo, and this time considered tossing in a microplane grater in my bag this time around. I’m glad I didn’t. Faux-grating lemon zest was not the arduous task that gadget marketers make it out to be.Salmon rillettes are a popular take on this traditional French spread made with fatty meats and fish. I had experimented before with a sardine version as part of the French Fridays with Dorie experience (while here at the beach apartment, coincidentally). There are many recipes readily found for salmon rillettes from Thomas Keller, David Lebovitz, and of course, Dorie Greenspan. This version is not like most, as these rillettes are bound with yogurt cream cheese instead of the more traditional butter. What all of them have in common is the combination of cooked and smoked salmon. These are added in a 2/1 proportion of cooked to smoked salmon, so the stronger cured fish doesn’t overpower the whole dip. To round out the flavors, scallions, lemon zest and juice are added. Although I prepared the traditional version a few weeks back, I like this take better.
For the sake of convenience, instead of poaching the salmon – as in the original preparation – I substituted for canned skinless and boneless sockeye. I filled out “half sandwiches” and chilled them. It made the most satisfying bite to enjoy at the beach: cool, with bursts of saltiness and that lemony finish. The salmon rillettes with cream cheese and chives are also great to top crackers and to scoop up with veggies.