This is a complete change of pace for me. Not only because I’ve been immersed in wintery comfort foods for so long, but also because I rarely venture into the world of Nordic cuisine. It’s been in the public eye in the last few years, partly because of Danish chef and restauranteur René Redzepi. He’s singlehandedly reinvigorated Scandinavian cuisine with clean, lean, innovative dishes that he presents with exquisite simplicity. His creative menus utilize fresh, local foods, foraged from nearby woods and waters, and he has become one of the most influential chefs in the world. These smoked salmon open sandwiches are an homage to that spare, cutting edge style, but funnily enough, they also look like they’d be right at home at a turn of the century tea party. They’re ideal for spring entertaining…wedding and baby showers, Easter brunch, Passover, or just your first picnic of the season. They’re basically spring on a plate…and couldn’t we all use a little bit of that on this last day of February?
Minimal, clean, healthy, and mostly raw, this kind of eating is such a nice change from what I’ve been eating. The bread is dense but very thinly sliced, so it’s also very low carb. The layers are built up with an eye toward color and texture. To start, the dark pumpernickel bread gets a quick toasting in the oven, then a lashing of freshly made dill mayonnaise. I used my favorite 30-second method, which you can read about in the ORIGINAL POST — I and added a handful of dill for color and lots of grassy spring flavor.
The mayo itself is worth the price of admission, you can use it on regular sandwiches, make deviled eggs with it, or use it as the base for tuna and chicken salads. You could also substitute tarragon for the dill for a completely different flavor. The secret is in the hand held blender…it turns an egg, oil, and a handful of dill into a glorious creamy mayonnaise instantaneously. It’s a lot of fun to do, too. I just make sure to use a pasteurized egg which is safe to eat raw. You can usually find pasteurized eggs with the rest of the eggs,
Really this is one recipe that is just as much about aesthetics as it is about eating. I topped each layered sandwich with an edible flower just for fun, but also because that is part of the Nordic foraging sensibility. There are lots to choose from, including nasturtiums, pansies, roses, violets, and marigolds, just to name a few of the more common ones. Micro greens are perfect for this kind of application because they are so small, they fit perfectly on the little slices of bread without overwhelming them. Here I’m using micro kale, but they have all sorts of micro greens available. Take your pick. You should be able to find the thin bread, usually imported, in the bread aisle, but ask if you have trouble, I found several different types of cocktail bread in the refrigerated section, too. This kind of ultra thinly sliced and dense bread is essential to these sandwiches, don’t try to substitute regular bread, it just won’t be the same.
I’ve made these sandwiches quite dainty, but if you want to make these heartier, use goat or cream cheese in place of the mayo, and maybe add some thinly sliced red onion, or a slice of boiled egg along with the salmon. Obviously this concept is meant to be played with. Thinly sliced cold steak would be amazing — just add creamed horseradish, onion, or delicate fried shallots for a completely different experience. Mmmmm, I just talked myself into trying that one.
- thinly sliced pumpernickel or rye bread, sometimes called cocktail bread
- butter at room temperature
- homemade dilled mayonnaise (recipe below)
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- thin slices of smoked salmon
- edible flowers
- lemon for garnish
- 1 pastuerized egg, at room temperature
- 1 cup mildly flavored olive oil, also room temperature
- a handful of fresh dill
- salt and pepper to taste
- a squeeze of lemon
- Set oven to 400F
- Cut the slices of bread into smaller rectangles. You can make them bite sized, if you like. Spread a very thin layer of soft butter on each slice and toast in the oven for a few minutes until they just start to get crisp. This step is optional, you can also use the bread un-toasted.
- Spread a little dilled mayonnaise onto each slice of bread, then top that with a slice of smoked salmon.
- Add microgreens, and then season with a little salt and pepper. Garnish with an edible flower, and serve with small wedges of lemon.
- To make the homemade mayonnaise: Put the room temperature egg, oil and dill in a jar just large enough to fit an immersion blender. Put the blender down to the bottom of the jar, and turn it on, slowly raising the blade as it emulsifies the mixture. This will only take about 30 seconds. Once it turns to mayo, stop the blending. You can then stir in the salt and pepper, and a little lemon juice, if you like.
- See THIS POST for a more detailed step by step instructions.
Of course if you don't want to make the homemade mayonnaise, just add plenty of fresh chopped dill to jarred mayo. Put these sandwiches together as close to when you want to serve them as possible. You want the toast to be crisp and the greens fresh.
I feel healthier just looking at these!
Note: You can find EDIBLE FLOWERS in some grocery stores, but even better if you have them growing in pots or in your backyard. Just be careful to avoid any blossoms that have been sprayed or treated with chemicals.