We are in the home stretch – and while kid’s dreams may be filled with visions of sugar plums mine are filled with… savory treats!! At about this time of the year I am pretty much over Christmas cookies and my thoughts are turning to… appetizers. As you may have noticed, I have a “thing” for appetizers.
They fascinate me.
Well, “good things come in small packages” so perhaps that is why I am so enamored of them – but for whatever reason, I adore playing with appetizers. So today, I actually have two of them for you. Either would be perfect for any holiday gathering you’ve got coming up and, of course, they not only can be made ahead (in fact they have to be!) but they don’t require much time because if they did, well, they would not be on on my blog at this time of year – I know I am a little crazy, but not that crazy.
If you’ve never made Salmon Gravlax before, this is your lucky day! It may sound a little scary, but honestly, it is perhaps one of the easiest and most foolproof things you will ever make. Really. Gravlax is a cured salmon and one that tastes infinitely better that just about smoked salmon you can find in the refrigerated section of any store and it is, as I said, incredibly easy to make.
So what exactly is this “curing” business? Well, smoking or curing with salt and sugar (which is what is used in Gravlax) does two things – it removes much of the moisture from the salmon which allows it to be stored for a longer period of time (because it reduces one of the things bacteria need – water!) and imparts flavors to the salmon based upon what ingredients are used to cure it. I’ve been making gravlax for a number of years and have finally found the perfect recipe – one that balances salty, sweet and tart and results in a silky and rich gravlax!
Once the salmon is cured (which takes about 36 hours) you can serve it “as it” – thinly slice it, place it on a platter and add crackers, capers, creme fraiche and some finely minced red onion to go with it – everyone can make up their own little bite and it makes a very easy and elegant appetizer that travels well.
Or you can do what I did – make “martini’s”.
Not the drinkable version of course, but a little “cocktail” served in a martini glass.
See what I mean – I am obsessed!
Seriously though, these little martini’s are easy and just a little whimsical – which makes them perfect for the holidays. A little salad of cucumber, onion and avocado topped with some cubed gravlax, a dollop of creme fraiche and topped with whatever you like. I topped mine with finger limes. Finger limes are a specialty lime that is now being grown in California. Inside the juice is contained is little crunchy spheres that resemble caviar and have the tart, refreshing taste of lime. If you can find them (Whole Foods carries them) they make a fun topping to the martini’s. But if you can’t, a little fresh lemon zest or even salmon caviar make a terrific garnish!