A popular food trend that originated in France, 'verrines' are intended to be indulgent little surprises that please the eye and offer unexpected textures and flavours. Chic patisseries in Paris, including Pierre Herme, Jean-Paul Hevin and Fauchon, showcase them, and prominent French chefs such as Guy Savoy, Yves Camdeborde and Helene Darroze feature them on their menus. They can be as simple as a soup passed before dinner or a dazzling dessert presented at the end of a meal. The word verrine refers to the vessel itself and literally means 'protective glass.' Intriguingly composed, they're a study in textures, flavours, colours and temperatures. A beautiful glass might be filled with a layer of warm sautéed wild mushrooms topped with a crisp potato and prosciutto galette; another may feature rich lemon custard, fresh blueberries and sweet lavender shortbread. If you subscribe to the idea that starting with an impressive appetizer and ending with a splashy dessert guarantees that dinner will be fabulous, then verrines are perfect for entertaining: They have sparkle, they have flair and can be assembled ahead of time, just like this luscious and creamy Avocado Dill Mousse & Smoked Salmon Verrine, the perfect amuse-bouche to usher in Spring.
Avocado Mousse & Smoked Salmon Verrines
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
8 oz smoked salmon
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
5 oz garlic and fine herb Boursin
3 oz crème fraîche
2 tsp chopped fresh dill, plus sprigs for garnish
Place the diced avocados in a food processor along with the crème fraîche, Boursin, lemon juice, salt, pepper and fresh dill, and blend well until smooth. Slice the smoked salmon into smaller pieces, and set aside. To serve, fill each glass with a spoonful of avocado mousse and top with salmon pieces and garnish of fresh dill. A small dollop of caviar or slice of lime would also be a nice garnish.