Last weekend I was in charge of the menu for my friend's baby shower. I had to come up with some good appetizers; healthy dishes that girls would like to pick on, but not feel gross about eating. One of my favorite people at the Farmers Market is the Trout Man. I will return to this post and tell you all his real name next week. He sells fresh trout, smoked trout, sunchokes, and this week, ramps. I can't resist buying a smoked trout whenever I see him, so there is usually one hanging out in my refrigerator. They are so great to have on hand, because when you do not feel like cooking, or need to add an easy protein to something, it is already prepared and fully flavored. They come whole, but do not be intimidated because the skin peels right off, and the flesh can be separated from the bones quite easily.
Anyway, back to the dip story. I decided that I would try and use the ingredients I had in my fridge, which meant putting the trout to good use. A dip would be the best way to stretch it out to serve 10 people. Now I am not a cream cheese fan. I love creme fraiche, lebne, clotted cream. . . but for some reason I hate cream cheese. I cannot bring myself to buy a package of Philadelphia ever. My favorite substitute, essentially for its texture and taste, is Tofutti brand. With a tub of their "Better than Cream Cheese", a local smoked trout, and some herbs and vinegar, this dip could not have been easier to put together. It was a total hit at the Shower, and made a star appearance again at Easter. (Though at Easter it was outshown by the Muhammara). I made it for a cocktail party last night, and the whole thing was eaten quite quickly.
So here is the no-fail Smoked Trout Dip!
1 smoked trout (preferably local), skinned and filleted
1 tub of Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese
1 scallion, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons red onion or shallot, minced
4 tablespoons sherry or apple cider vinegar
1-2 tablespoons freshly minced chives
In a small bowl, cover the onion with the vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes.
Use a food processor to whip up the cream cheese. Add the smoked trout in pieces to the bowl and continue to process. Drain the vinegar and add to the bowl, as well as the scallion.
Stir in the onion and chives and serve with crackers.
Makes about 1 3/4 cups of dip.