I’m a bit of a nomad. In my short life, I’ve lived in various parts of California (Sacramento, Los Angeles, Orange County, etc.), Alaska, Wyoming, Oregon, along with a very brief stint in Mexico.
I have fond memories of most of these places, but none of them compare to my memories of Alaska. My family and I lived in Anchorage, Alaska for 3 years – from the time I was 8 until I was 11 – and I can honestly say that there is no better place to be a kid. My sisters and I built sled runs in our front yard, we fed moose from our deck, we hiked, skiied, fished, and adventured. Alaska was a magical place for kids. I was too busy being young and wild and free to be bothered by the long, dark days of winter. I loved Alaska.
And to this day, whenever I eat smoked salmon, I can’t help but think about Alaska. During our time there, my parents bought a boat and got really into salmon fishing. One year, my mom caught a 65 pound King salmon (Naturally, we had it stuffed. His name is “Sam the Salmon” and he still hangs on the wall at my parent’s house.). Needless to say, we ate a lot of salmon in those days. We ate so much salmon that I grew tired of it. I remember thinking to myself (or whining, aloud), “Salmon for dinner? Again?”. Only in Alaska, I suppose.
(A photo of us from the Alaska days, with our giant stuffed Salmon. This was our Christmas card photo one year.)
But as much as I whined about salmon for dinner, I never seemed to grow tired of smoked salmon. Specifically, my mom’s smoked salmon. Her smoked salmon is ridiculously good, and strangely addictive. In fact, my favorite snack when I was a kid was Ritz crackers with cream cheese and smoked salmon. I ate it constantly. So, then, this recipe is really just a grown up version of my favorite childhood snack. This is my version of Ritz crackers with smoked salmon and cream cheese.
Sadly, I did not use my mom’s smoked salmon for this particular recipe. The days of Alaska and salmon fishing are long gone, and so I had to resort to purchasing Trader Joe’s smoked salmon. It certainly isn’t my mom’s smoked salmon, but it worked nicely in the context of this recipe (and, it’s really affordable!).
I’ll admit, this isn’t a terribly inventive recipe. In fact, I can hardly call it a “recipe” at all: this is a few key ingredients arranged prettily on a mini toast. But, the tartines are easy to put together, they taste fantastic (who doesn’t like salmon with dill and cucumber?), and they make for an elegant holiday appetizer. In the midst of a busy season, this is exactly the type of holiday appetizer I like to make.
And, with that I’d like to wish you a peaceful and restful holiday. Happy Holidays, everyone!
MINIATURE SMOKE SALMON TARTINES (WITH CUCUMBER AND DILL)
8 oz smoked salmon, sliced thinly
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus a few extra sprigs of dill for garnishing
1 package of mini toasts (from Trader Joes). You could substitute crostini, melba toasts, etc.
The zest of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper, to taste
Slice cucumber thinly, using a knife or mandoline. If using the mini toast (or very small piece of bread), cut each cucumber slice in half. If using a larger bread/cracker base, you may leave the slices whole.
Mix together the cream cheese, lemon zest, minced dill and salt and pepper. Chill until needed.
Make the tartines immediately prior to serving, so that everything is fresh and chilled when eaten. Spread a small amount of the cream cheese mixture on each mini toast. Place a half slice of cucumber atop the cream cheese. Then, place a small roll of smoked salmon atop the cucumber slice (you could just place the smoked salmon on top without rolling it, I just think that the roll adds height and elegance). Garnish with a bit of fresh dill.