Holiday Cheer and Roasted Potatoes with Smoked Trout and Avocado
“Tis the season for giving, sweet indulgences, and things that sparkle. Break out the pretty glasses, the ones you’ve been “saving for good” and fill them with the expensive champagne you stowed away for a special occasion. Pull that sequined top from the back of your closet and give yourself a reason to wear it. Have a cookie for breakfast, maybe two; Santa won’t miss them when he slides down your chimney. Even if the Mayans get it wrong and the world doesn’t end December 21st, 2012, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate. It just might take a little digging to find them, and where you find them can be surprising.
Holiday cheer is in short supply this year for many of my close friends and family who are wrestling with physical impairments, life threatening illnesses, depression, death, and divorce. Helplessly watching their struggles from the sidelines brought on a case of the blues the likes of which I haven’t seen since my mom died in 2000. Holiday baking didn’t interest me. Holiday shopping interested me even less. Greg decorated our tree alone while I watched from the couch in a fetal position. No boozy eggnog, no Johnny Mathis, not yet.
In an effort to shake the blues Greg and I wrapped the branches of the little tree in our backyard with a thousand tiny white lights. Remember Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation? I teetered on the tall, dilapidated fence next to the tree, while Clark, er, um, Greg swayed back and forth on the extension ladder. We could hardly wait for darkness to fall, and when it did our tree was a luminous sight to behold. Two days later, the twinkling branches were dark again thanks to a sharp-toothed squirrel with an appetite for holiday lights. It was the final blow. I returned to the couch for more thumb sucking.
Depressed people are hard to be around for long periods of time, and by Saturday morning I was damn tired of myself. A holiday party was on the calendar for that night. Maybe a party was what I needed, but how could I expose innocent holiday cheer seekers to my bah humbugging?
I was conjuring up a believable excuse for bailing on the party when I got a text message from my sister. It was the message she swore she wouldn’t send this year, the very message I’d given up on receiving. My joy gushed out in wet, messy sobs. I hurried to find Greg and share the news. I looked everywhere before finding him in the backyard, swaying once more on the extension ladder perched next to the sad tree, except the sad tree was twinkling again. Greg triumphantly held up a roll of electrical tape when he saw me. His game with the squirrels was tied now at one to one. The doorbell rang before I could make it outside to congratulate him. I wiped at the tears on my face and walked to the front door. Our neighbor was standing there with a giant, red poinsettia in her arms. All of this–the message, the lights, the flowers–happened within the span of a few minutes, a few magical minutes. Yes, Santa, I believe.
There was still time to fetch the ingredients for the roasted potato appetizer I wanted to make for the party that night. And I knew right where to find my favorite black, sequined top and sparkly shoes.
Roasted Potatoes with Smoked Trout and Avocado
These are equally tasty with smoked salmon and capers. You’ll find the recipe variation below. You can also build these on toasts instead of roasted potatoes.
2 pounds small red potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup crème fraîche (You can substitute 1/3 cup sour cream plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream.)
2 tablespoons grated horseradish
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 avocado, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
6 ounces smoked trout, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh minced chives (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Wash potatoes. Cut into 1/2” thick rounds. Place on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and tender but not mushy. Let cool. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to assemble.
- Stir together crème fraîche, horseradish, black pepper, and salt.
- Top each potato with the sliced avocado. Arrange the smoked trout on top of the avocado and drizzle with the horseradish crème fraîche. Sprinkle with minced chives if using.
Roasted Potatoes with Smoked Salmon and Capers
Substitute smoked salmon for the trout. Eliminate the avocado and sea salt. 2 tablespoons of capers will contribute enough salt. Substitute 1 tablespoon of minced shallots for the chives. Top potatoes with smoked salmon, spoon the horseradish crème fraîche on top and finish with minced shallots and a few capers.