Happy New Year, everybody! May it be happy and prosperous for all of us!
I welcomed 2013 in the company of good friends. Before going dancing, we had very festive dinner, started with some traditional Russian salads, and crowned with a succulent roast goose and goose fat potatoes with rosemary. Although the dinner was hosted by my friend, I did contribute to the appetizer round by making a couple of dishes.
I don’t want to recite the whole story of how I stumbled upon an idea of making smorgastarta but I thought that New Year’s Eve dinner was the right occasion to try it out. The recipe below is a compilation of two recipes from Saveur and Gourmet. Its ingredients remind me of the ingredients used in traditional Russian holiday cooking. However, smorgastarta can also be made with cold cuts like ham and cheese, and can combine both sweet and savory ingredients.
Decorating smorgastarta is a fun enterprise. Depending on the fillings you made it with, you can use cold cuts, small shrimp, sliced radishes, grapes, sliced hard-boiled eggs – you name it! Use your imagination or Google! 🙂
- 18 slices white sandwich bread (or light rye bread), crusts cut off
Egg Salad Filling:
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped fine
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- salt to taste
Salmon with Mustard Sauce Filling:
- some butter to spread onto bread slices
- 5 oz smoked salmon, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tablespoon mild mustard
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- some warm water to thin out the sauce
- a few sprigs fresh dill, chopped fine
- thinly sliced peeled cucumber (enough to cover the salmon in one layer)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 3/4 cup whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
To decorate the cake:
- bunch of finely chopped fresh dill
- bunch of finely chopped fresh chives
- bunch mixed baby lettuce leaves (or butter lettuce leaves)
- unpeeled cucumber slices
- cherry tomatoes
- 1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped and mixed with a tablespoon of mayonnaise and some salt
Stack 6 bread slices together and trim crusts from the bread with a serrated knife. Stack and trim remaining 12 bread slices in the same manner.
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the egg filling and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the caster sugar and the two mustards. Little by little, drizzle the oil in, whisking constantly. If the sauce is too thick, add a teaspoon of warm water and continue whisking. Add more water if needed. Season with salt and taste, then add the chopped fresh dill and set aside. Note: this recipe makes more sauce than you need in this cake but you can use it in your morning bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
In a medium bowl, combine the frosting ingredients, mix well and set aside.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper arrange 6 bread slices side by side in 2 rows of 3 slices each to form a rectangle. Top rectangle with the egg salad filling, spreading evenly, and cover with 6 more buttered (!) bread slices in same manner, pressing gently on top and sides to form an even layer.
Top second layer of bread with the salmon slices, spreading evenly, drizzle with the mustard sauce and top with cucumber slices. Cover with 6 bread slices in the same manner to form an even layer. Trim the cake on all sides.
Cover third layer of bread with the cream cheese frosting, spreading evenly on top and on all sides.
Pat chopped fresh dill onto the sides of the cake.
Arrange some lettuce leaves along the perimeter of the cake, top with unpeeled cucumber slices to form a rectangular shape. Arrange a row of grape tomatoes on two sides, spread some egg salad in between, and sprinkle with chopped chives. Cover and chill for a few hours.
Cut into small pieces and serve.
P.S. Smorgastarta was a hit both at dinner and even more so when we came back from the night of dancing and celebrating 😉