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The golden years for me (and apparently several others, who have the Gourmet Collection Cookbooks) were clearly the mid- 1980s through the early 1990s. This Christmas hors d’oeuvre is from the 1987 cookbook which reflects the previous year’s seductive photos and recipes. Jane Montant was the editor and I think her sense of style and selection of recipes is peerless as is the photography of Romulo Yanes. When I first made the two Christmas Dinner horses doovers, (as we call them) the Radish and Parsley Butter Wreaths were not a crowd favorite, even though they looked pretty. But the Smoked Salmon Christmas Trees have remained a family favorite and guest pleaser for over twenty years. The trees are a bit fiddley but they can be done in the morning, then covered with cling wrap and kept in the fridge. The night before is okay too, but make sure you wrap them doubly tight so there is no drying out. I use a large sandwich loaf of light whole wheat bread and usually get two trees out of each slicer. Hand slicing actually works better than having it sliced by the bakery – that way you get thinner slices. Stick with the unsalted butter, it actually tastes better than cream cheese in this instance. If your cutter is really sharp, you can spread the slice with a thin layer of butter, a layer of the the smoked salmon and then cut out the whole tree, but if your cutter is not sharp, best to follow the original instructions. Tweezers are helpful with the onion or scallion.
- 1/2 lb (227gr) thinly sliced smoked salmon
- 10 very thin slices of whole-wheat bread
- 3-5 tbs unsalted butter, softened
- 1-2 tbs capers (small brined ones are best), drained
- 1 small white onion or scallion, halved and sliced thin crosswise.
- dill sprigs for garnish
- A 3 1/2 inch Christmas Tree Cutter (metal, not plastic)
- Arrange the salmon slices, overlapping them on a cutting board.
- With a spreader, butter thinly the bread slices.
- Cut the trees out of the bread slices
- Then cut the salmon with the cutter and pull away the excess using a small paring knife, while you have the cutter in place on the salmon.
- Lift the salmon cutouts onto the bread and butter cutouts..
- Garnish with the caper ornaments and, the onion icicles - you may want to use a pair of tweezers with the onion or scallion slices.
- Gourmet advises that these can me made and kept covered and chilled for six hours.
- Transfer them to platter and arrange dill sprigs as a garland.
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.
Nancy, when I saw this post I told my sister we had to make them. Her daughter and I always make profiteroles for xmas dinner and the recipe I use (Cooks Illustrated) leaves out one egg yolk so I cooked that into a disc and Jane cut out stars for the top of the trees. Capers and shallot bits. So adorable and delicious.
What a cool idea about cooking the yolk and making tiny stars. I often have an extra yolk mouldering away submerged under water in the fridge, also a teensy star cutter. Will add this next year.