Crispy potato nests with a petite dollop of creamy lemon-dill filling, then topped with a morsel of smoked fish make these little treasures perfect for passing at a small party.
My favorite way of serving them is accompanied with a flute of Champagne; the combination makes a proper elegant nibble for a special occasion or celebration.
The contrast between the warm, salty, crispy potato and the cold creamy filling is a fleeting pleasure to be enjoyed soon after being assembled.
To be at their best, they must be baked then filled at the last moment these are best reserved for a small gathering of just a few (or two.)
But they are worth it.
Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche in Tiny Potato Nests
Yields 24 filled nests (recipe is easily halved)
1/2 to 3/4 pounds of potatoes, Russet or Yukon Gold, peeled
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill (or heaping 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Pretty fresh green herb for garnish
Smoked salmon (or other smoked fish) for topping; as generously as you like.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F)
Position rack to center (if you have the option, a bit closer to the bottom of the oven than the top, as the delicate tops tend to brown more quickly than the base of the cups.)
Generously grease the mini-muffin cups, be thorough; it will save you aggravation later. Cooking spray does not work as well for this recipe.
Finely shred potatoes with a mandolin (these should be very finely shredded). In a medium bowl, stir together grated potato, egg, salt and pepper. Squeeze any excess liquid from shredded potatoes. Spoon mixture, evenly divided, into 24 well-greased mini muffin tins.
With a spoon or fork, push the grated potato up the sides to make a nest shape. Just try to distribute the shreds to resemble a basket. The charm is that they will all be different so don't fuss about perfection; just try to form a nest shape.
Drizzle a small amount (about ¼ teaspoon) melted butter into each nest.
Bake in preheated oven until golden and cooked through 15-20 minutes. If edges/tops begin browning too quickly, loosely cover top of muffin pan with foil. When done remove pan from oven and cool on rack. When cool, remove from muffin tins and place on serving dish.*
Make filling ~ while nests are baking (or can be made a couple of hours ahead):
In a small bowl, stir together crème fraîche (or thick sour cream), lemon rind and dill. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate. Give it another stir before filling nests.
Place a small spoonful in each slightly cooled "nest", dividing evenly.
Place a small piece of smoked fish on each one and garnish with a bit of fresh green; dill, chives, watercress, etc.
*Note: If you have difficulty removing potato nests from the mini-muffin tins, allow them to cool for a bit, then "encourage" them to release with a thin bamboo skewer (or tip of a knife.)