When you invite friends over for dinner, there are usually one or two people who ask sincerely, “What can I do to help?” Line up the ingredients for the simple smoked salmon tart, hand your new assistant a printout of the recipe, and say, “Here. Please make this.”
Assembling the tart is easy. Pinching the pastry is fun. The results are wonderful. Your helpful friend, the other guests, and even you, who set up this whole production, will be impressed when the tart comes out of the oven. You will be a relaxed host, too, because you will have made the cucumber salad the night before and will have attended to other details while the tart is being made. Hand out the pilsners and do the most important part of entertaining – enjoying time with your guests.
The classic addition of cucumber salad
A few words about the cucumber salad. I refer to the recipe as a “enough to feed a threshing crew” recipe. The phrase was a favorite of my great-grandmother, a woman who had fed plenty of threshing crews in her lifetime. She believed in quantity as well as the quality. The recipe calls for eight cucumbers and I recommend you use a mandolin food slicer. The translucently thin slices absorb the vinegar and sugar well. Give it overnight in the refrigerator. It’s tart enough that a moderate amount is satisfying and you will easily have enough for your gathering. Anything that isn’t eaten as a salad can be drained and used to dress a sandwich the next day.
Ingebretsen’s very first reader poll on Facebook was whether or not people thought dill should be included in cucumber salad. The answer was almost 100% in favor of dill. I follow the crowd on this point. Its inclusion and its quantity is strictly to taste, but the salad is oh-so-much better for the dill being there in any measure. (To learn how dill got to the Nordic countries, read this.)
To add a little more substance…
If you want to add a little more substance to the meal, deli potato salad is a satisfying addition. Keep life simple. If you are local, stop by the Meat Market and pick some up. Add a shot of Lars Own Spicy Brown Mustard and mix in thoroughly to customize your salad.
One of the hard lessons learned during the last two years is that we need one another’s company. Even introverts are welcoming the expanded opportunities to exchange a few words with other living, breathing human beings. (Dogs and cats are lovely, but their conversational skills are limited.)
Be bold. Ask friends to join you for dinner.
The simple smoked salmon tart recipe is by Anne Gillespie Lewis, who is a master at quickly assembling food for guests. Whatever she sets on the table, it entices people to stay and chat, even if that wasn’t originally their intention. I know of what I speak. Anne is a neighbor. Many times I have planned to simply drop something off at her house or to pick something up, and I am lured in by her offer of cake and coffee. I always stay longer than I had intended and am always glad that I did.
So, now that Covid is receding and spring is coming, gather some friends on any pretext whatsoever. Set out a game of Farkel, grab a CD, or even some vinyl, and invite friends over for a listening party. Or simply tell your friends that you enjoy their company and you’d like them to sit around your house, eat a bit, and just be in one another’s presence.
Vǽr så god
Simple Smoked Salmon Tart
This serves six as an appetizer and four as a light main course. Consider combining plain and peppered smoked salmon for this recipe.
One sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
¼ c. or more, full-fat or reduced fat sour cream
½ c. or more smoked salmon, cut or torn in small pieces.
2 tbsp. red onion, finely diced
Dill, to taste, cut finely
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Sprinkle the counter and rolling pin with a little flour. Roll out the puff pastry until the folds are smoothed out. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Crimp the edges of the pastry slightly.
Spread the sour cream evenly over the pastry, adding more if needed to cover the surface completely.
Put smoked salmon and onion evenly over the sour cream and sprinkle dill over all.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden brown. Do not over-bake.
Take a pair of scissors and finely cut some fresh dill to add color to the tart. (Optional)
Cucumber Salad for a Crowd
1 1⁄4 cups distilled vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
a few sprigs of dill
Thinly slice the cucumbers, ideally with a mandolin so you can have paper-thin slices.
Put the sliced cucumbers in a large glass or ceramic bowl.
Combine the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer
for 5 minutes. Stir continuously to help the sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and let the
mixture cool slightly (warm, not hot, to the touch).
Pour the vinegar and sugar over the cucumber slices, toss in the sprigs of dill, and mix carefully.
Let everything sit for a couple of hours, then gently mix again. Chill, ideally overnight.
Var så god!