Bluestem's Smoked Salmon Panna Cotta

Bluestem's Smoked Salmon Panna Cotta

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Bluestem: The Cookbook to give away this week.

An amuse-bouche, that enticing pre meal bite compliments of the kitchen, is one of those lovely little touches that makes a meal really special. And while the amuse is firmly situated in restaurant territory, we love the idea of serving them at home. Adapted from Bluestem, this Smoked Salmon Panna Cotta is simple entryway into the world of amuse-bouche at home.

For the elegance and big flavors of these bites, the recipe is remarkably simple; it's just a matter of simmering cream with smoked salmon and gelatin, buzzing it in the blender, and leaving it to set up overnight. Topped with a spoonful of smoked salmon roe and perhaps a sliver of scallion, these tiny panna cottas are just a few intense spoonfuls of creamy, salmony mousse.

Why you should make this: If you're going for elegant, it doesn't get better than serving an amuse-bouche before your meal. Plus, the wow factor that this recipe brings won't have you tied up in the kitchen.

Next time we might think about: This recipe got us thinking about all sorts of other savory panna cotta options. Perhaps next time we'll be kicking off the meal with miniature Serrano ham-infused panna cotta.

Adapted from Bluestem by Colby Garrelts and Megan Garrelts. Copyright © 2011. Published by Andrews McMeel. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:serves 8 to 10 as an amuse-bouche 
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:30 minutes plus overnight chilling time


  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin 
  • 5 ounces smoked salmon 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons smoked salmon roe 


  1. 1.

    Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the cream and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. 

  2. 2.

    Heat the cream over medium-high heat to dissolve the gelatin. Add the salmon and sugar and turn the heat to high. As soon as the panna cotta base comes to a simmer, remove it from the heat. Watch it closely, as dairy products have a tendency to boil over quickly. 

  3. 3.

    Carefully transfer the hot panna cotta base to a blender. With one towel-wrapped hand held tightly over the lid, puree the base until liquefied. Strain the hot liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. 
Pour the liquid panna cotta base into small molds, about 1 inch in diameter, or into a 13 by 9-inch pan. Chill the molds on a level shelf in the refrigerator for 6 hours, or preferably overnight. 

  4. 4.

    To loosen the panna cottas from their molds or the pan, heat the molds or the bottom of the pan briefly in a shallow pan of hot water. Unmold the panna cottas from molds onto a large spoon or into a small serving dish. If you poured the panna cotta into a sheet pan, punch out cylinders with a 1-inch ring mold dipped in warm water. 

  5. 5.

    Top each panna cotta with a bit of the roe and serve immediately.