good tastes february


Skim the recipe section of most January magazines and you’ll find a slew of diet dishes purporting to help you “lighten up” and keep to your (post-holiday-binge) resolution to eat healthy in the new year. But I’ve never been big on resolutions; rather than tell myself what I can’t or shouldn’t do, I’d rather ring in 2015 focusing on all the things I want to do and experience.

Enter smorrebrod.

At first, the connection between Danish open-faced sandwiches and my aspirations for living a happy life in the new year probably isn’t obvious, but let me explain. While I’ve never been to Denmark, I’ve seen (and eaten) variations of its native dish, smorrebrod, in Vienna, Budapest and Reykjavik. I’ve seen people of all ages and walks of life linger over these beautiful little creations, and it always reminds me to slow down and remember that eating shouldn’t be only about satisfying hunger, but rather about appreciating what’s on the plate and being grateful for the opportunity to savor it.

These open-faced sandwiches, for me, encapsulate what I love about eating and cooking: they’re fun to make, to look at and to eat—and they’re as much about the process of creation as they are about filling my belly with something delicious.

Most of the flavor combinations will likely be familiar to you: egg salad and olives, roast beef and horseradish, salmon and cream cheese. The Italian salad (“italiansalat”) will probably be new unless you’re Danish or have been to Denmark. Named not for the flavors in the dish but rather for its resemblance to the colors in the Italian flag, its Danish counterpart contains peas, carrots and white asparagus. I substituted shallots for white asparagus to give the dish a bit more punch.

When you make your smorrebrod, be creative with the garnishes and the construction; that’s half the fun. Hopefully they will inspire you, as they do me, to slow down, be in the moment and enjoy the beauty that’s all around you…and on your plate.

Salmon and Garlic Chive Cream Cheese Smorrebrod
makes 1 smorrebrod

1 slice 4” x 4” European dark bread, such as Rubschlager Pumpernickel
1 to 2 tablespoons garlic chive cream cheese (recipe below)
1 slice smoked Nova salmon, cut to fit the bread
Fresh dill, for garnish
Slice of lemon, for garnish

Carefully layer the ingredients, in order, on the bread.

Garlic Chive Cream Cheese:
1⁄2 cup whipped cream cheese
1 heaping tablespoon chopped chives
1 small garlic clove, minced

Combine ingredients and refrigerate.

Egg Salad and Olive Smorrebrod
makes 1 smorrebrod

Egg Salad:
8 hard-boiled eggs, with one slice set aside
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1⁄2 -3⁄4 cup sliced manzanilla pimento-stuffed olives, with a slice set aside
1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Sliced radish, for garnish

Smash the hard-boiled eggs with a fork; add the other ingredients and combine well. To assemble the smorrebrod, place a portion of egg salad on 1 slice 4” x 4” European dark bread, such as Rubschlager Pumpernickel, and top with the slice of hard-boiled egg, the olive slice and sliced radish (optional).

Roast Beef and Horseradish Mayo Smorrebrod
makes 1 smorrebrod

1 slice 4” x 4” European dark bread, such as Rubschlager Pumpernickel
1 tablespoon horseradish mayo
(recipe below)
Small handful of arugula
2 thin slices of roast beef
2 sliced plum tomatoes
1 heaping tablespoon fresh grated horseradish or fried onions (or both!)

Carefully layer the ingredients on the bread to create your smorrebrod.

Horseradish Mayo:
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Pinch of salt and white pepper

Combine ingredients and refrigerate.

Ham and Italian Salad Smorrebrod
makes 1 smorrebrod
1 slice 4” x 4” European dark bread, such as Rubschlager Pumpernickel
2 thin slices of deli ham
1⁄4 cup Italian Salad (recipe below)
Small handful alfalfa sprouts

Carefully layer the ingredients on the bread to assemble the smorrebrod.

Italian Salad:
1⁄2 cup carrots, cut into small dice
1⁄2 cup peas (fresh or, if frozen,
thawed and completely dried)
2 teaspoons minced shallot
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
Pinch salt & white pepper

Boil the carrots until tender, plunge into an ice bath, remove and pat dry. Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate.

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