Kitchen Accomplice: 'Molded Salmon Mousse' is the quintessential 60s cocktail fair

Do you remember the uproarious party in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?  Of course if you saw the film, the answer is axiomatic.
Nowadays, I see various publications touting retro foods for gatherings with friends – just the fare that Holly Golightly was likely to have nibbled on while setting people’s hats on fire with her cigarette at the end of the somehow stately, long holder.
 I will give you an example of my top favorite 60’s cocktail fare.  Add this together with yours and get your retro gear out and plan a party! 
I remember once going to a prominent alum’s home while in college. 
He was pointing out that the lovely chandelier in his beautiful dining room had never been lighted – he and his wife always ate by candlelight. 
I was impressed at the on-going romance in their lives.  They were divorced shortly after -- but not before I had a chance to sample her incomparable molded salmon mousse. 
This is how she did it.

Molded Salmon Mousse

Serves about 20 as part of a party buffet; can be halved

1.5 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
Dash of Tabasco 
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 cups flaked red canned salmon, skin and bones removed
1 cup heavy cream
Watercress or fresh dill, crackers, pimentos, for garnish and serving.

Soften the gelatin in the cold water in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the boiling water and whisk the mixture slowly until the gelatin dissolves.
Cool to room temperature.
Whisk in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, diced shallot, Tabasco, salt, and dill.
Stir to blend completely and refrigerate until the mixture begins to thicken slightly, about 25 minutes.
Use a food processor to puree the flaked salmon (use a little cream if the mixture sticks).
Fold this pureed salmon into the slightly gelled mayonnaise mixture using a spatula.
In a separate bowl or the base of your mixer, whip the cream until it is thickened to soft peaks and fluffy.
Fold gently into the salmon mixture (don't worry if a few small white streaks remain).
Transfer the mixture to a 6- to 8-cup bowl or decorative mold.  
Cover and refrigerate for at least five hours.
To serve, dip the bottom of the mold in a basin of hot water for 20 seconds, then overturn onto a serving dish.
Garnish with fresh dill or watercress. If using a fish shaped mold, use an olive to make the fish "eye" and pimento strips to make scales.
Add crackers or toast points (I like Carr’s water biscuits) for serving.
This does not promise a divorce-free existence but will add to life’s pleasures enormously.

Judge Kirkendall is a retired probate judge. 
He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. 
He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges and can be reached at


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