Caviar Pie

Don’t be put off by the name of this appetizer.  Although the words caviar and pie may seem incongruous, in this case they meld beautifully together.  Think elegance and home-cooking goodness, joined in the best kind of edible yin-and-yang.  The recipe comes form my friend Jamie, who in turn got it from her mother.  

The elegant, colorful layers display at the beginning only on the outside of the pie.  But as you cut into it, they show all the way through.  The presentation is lovely, but that's only part of the package here.  In each small bite of pie, you get tastes of each layer that are distinct, complementary, and addictively combined all at the same time.   

caviar pie

I worried momentarily about overselling this dish.  Then I remembered Saturday night when I brought it to a potluck.  I couldn’t get any good pictures because of the crowd around it.  In a flash the pie was gone, and all I had was an empty plate and friends asking me for the recipe.

Are you intimidated by caviar?  Don’t be.  You can find lumpfish caviar in ethnic food stores catering to Eastern Europeans and online through Amazon or other sources.  The instructions below for handling it are not difficult.  I used 5.5 ounces, which worked just fine.  While the cost of this appetizer is higher than most you might prepare, it is not outrageous on a per serving basis and it is quite an impressive contribution for a special occasion potluck or as the main appetizer at a large party. 

The preparation is easy, but does require patience and at least 3 hours for chilling the first 3 layers before you can put on the final (caviar) layer.  Although leftovers are delicious the next day, the pie is looks best if finished shortly before you present it.  For an evening party, start in the morning or early afternoon and finish it off at the last minute when you add the caviar layer, remove the outside of the springform, and place it on the serving plate.  

This recipe requires a special type of pan called a springform pan.  If you don't have one, check with friends or family members who bake frequently.  I used to borrow my friend Jamie's springform to make this appetizer, and only recently bought one of my own. 

Caviar Pie 

Servings – Many (10-15 perhaps)   Total Cost - $20.45 (for entire pie)  

Ingredients

ingredients for caviar pie appetizer
  • 6 hardboiled eggs, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mayonanaise
  • 1 ½ cups of Bermuda (red) onion, chopped very small (about 1 large or 2 medium onions)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • 4 – 5.5 ounces of black or red lumpfish caviar, rinsed and drained well
  • Oil or cooking spray for pan and small knife
  • Optional garnish – parsley and lemon  

Equipment

  • Pot
  • Cutting board
  • Medium knife
  • Small sharp knife
  • Small strainer with wire mesh and paper towels
  • Large and small spoon
  • Spatula
  • Fork
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • 2 medium bowls
  • 8 or 9 inch springform pan
  • Foil or plastic wrap 
  • Optional – handbeater to mix cream cheese and sour cream 

Preparation

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  • Mix the chopped eggs and the mayonnaise (basically egg salad without seasoning) and place that mixture on the bottom of the greased pan as the first layer of the pie.
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  • Sprinkle the finely chopped onion as the 2nd layer and spread it evenly over the eggs.
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  • Blend the softened cream cheese and the sour cream.  Especially if the cream cheese is not softened enough, you may need to whip them together with a beater.  I did that this time, but don’t always find it necessary.  
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  • Using a knife or spatula, gently spread that cream cheese/sour cream mixture over the onion as the third layer, being careful not to mix the layers together.
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  • Cover the pie with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours, up to a day. 
  • At the last minute, carefully place the caviar in a small strainer, rinse it under softly running cool water, drain it well, and gently pat the caviar in the strainer with a paper towel on the top and the underside to remove any residual moisture.  This step is important.  It rinses salt off the caviar and prevents the color from running in to the other layers.  Be gentle and take your time!!  This step is more like surgery or golf than hockey or football.  You don’t have to be a surgeon or a star golfer to do it well, but all hope is lost if you smash the caviar into the pie carelessly or with a heavy hand. 
  • After the caviar is rinsed and dried, delicately dot small amounts over the sour cream/cream cheese mixture.  Then spread it evenly over the pie with the back of a teaspoon.
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  • When you are ready to unmold the pie, have a plate at hand that is at least 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the springform pan.   After placing a bit of oil or cooking spray on the blade of a small knife so that it will glide, gently run the knife around the pan sides to loosen the pie.  You may need to do this in several steps, cleaning the knife a couple of times.  Then, holding your hand on the bottom of the pan, gently release the spring on the side so the ring around the pan enlarges and comes off.  
  • Put the bottom of the pan (on which the pie is sitting) on the large plate and garnish to hide the springform bottom on which the pie sits. I use a combination of parsley and lemon. 
  • Serve with lightly toasted slices of baguette-type bread or plain crackers. 
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