A long time ago in a land far far away… just kidding the land was Sacramento, California and it was only a few years ago (feels like forever though), my sister took me to a new restaurant downtown called Magpie Cafe. My sister has always been savvy to the best parts of Sacramento, both new and old, so I knew I would love it before we were even there.
Sure enough, I ended up ordering a sandwich that was different and a little funky. If someone else had described it to me, I have no doubt I would not have been interested. You would have lost me at “smoked trout”. But that day it jumped out at me. The description on the handwritten chalkboard menu was simple and to the point. Smoked trout, lemon and cream cheese. It came with a salad. The dish that arrived at our table, however, was not so simple. The flavors and textures were balanced and surprisingly complex. I loved it instantly. I used to return to Magpie’s for this specific sandwich every so often when I was in the area and it was perfect every time. In the summer they would replace the lemons with cherry tomatoes, which was also very good, but I am partial to the lemon version, peel and all.
Now, living in San Diego, I still periodically crave this sandwich. However, I cannot justify an 8 hour drive just for the sake of food. (As it turns out, Magpie’s has since grown and moved to a bigger location (yay for them!!), but it appears that they no longer serve this sandwich.) Luckily it is easy (and quick) to make at home.
Smoked Trout Tartines
Inspired by the sandwich of the same name at Magpie Cafe.
*Note on herbs: Feel free to substitute for whatever herbs you have on hand. I think lemon zest would be a lovely addition to the cream cheese, but I did not think of this until later.
Serves: 8 tartines (for reference: we typically eat 2 tartines per person)
4 oz. (1/2 c.) cream cheese
1 tsp. each of fresh dill and chives, chopped (optional, but highly recommended)
1 Tbs. finely sliced scallions (optional, but highly recommended)
6 oz. Smoked Trout, dry packed, or patted dry if packed in oil
A handful of micro greens
Salt & Pepper
Prepare the herb cream cheese: Mix the scallions & herbs into the cream cheese until evenly mixed and the cream cheese is easily spreadable.
Prepare the lemon: Cut the lemon in half, length wise (through both ends). Lay the flat side down and trim the ends until you can start to see the flesh. Slice the lemon into ~1/4 in thick slices, using a very sharp knife or mandolin. Cut each slice in half, then in half again. You should end up with 4 hamster sized pizza-shaped lemon triangles. I used 4 ‘pizza’ slices on each of the 8 tartines, and had about a quarter of a lemon left when all was said and done.
Prepare the trout: Flake the trout into large-ish pieces. You want them to be similar size in surface area to the lemon wedges. Be on the lookout for bones.
Prepare the bread: Slice the baguette into 8 slices, about an inch thick, on an EXTREME diagonal, a smidgen above horizontal (like a 160 degree angle). It will seem crazy at first, but it will result in perfectly long and narrow pieces of bread. Lightly toast the slices.
Assemble: Spread the cream cheese on the toasted slices. Top with the trout and lemon wedges, peel and all (go with me here), alternating as you go. In a small bowl, toss the micro greens with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Top each of the assembled tartines with the greens.
Please note: These do not store well for very long, so eat shortly after assembly. If you plan to make them more than a half hour or so in advance, really dry out the toast on a low-ish heat to give them their best shot at maintaining a bit of crunch when they are served.
P.S. Looking to make a cake for a special occasion? Check out my banana layer cake post!