Friday, 16 August 2013

Smörgastarta - A Celebratory 1,000th Recipe

According to my little list, this is my 1,000th recipe post, more or less. I say more or less, because sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between a recipe post and a "hey, look, food!" post. But whatever, I've made, and eaten, and written about, an awful lot of food since I started this blog just over 6 years ago.

I had a hard time picking a recipe for this post, but I think this one makes a good representative sample. It's pretty basic stuff, with a little twist. It uses techniques I know, but I was still making something new to me, and it wasn't as perfect as it could have been, but nobody complained, because it was made with high-quality Ontario grown and made ingredients and therefore tasted pretty damn fine anyway.

First suggestion - use a different bread than what I chose. Something with a lower profile, because when you make them this high they get realllllly hard to cut. Also, this was a beautiful loaf of stone-ground Red Fife wheat bread, and it tasted excellent but was a little too sturdy to be ideal. You really need a lighter sandwich bread.

Two days after our party (not just for the blog, other people were under the impression it was our annual family birthday party) I was wandering through the grocery store and saw a nice little flat, rectangular ciabatta loaf. Just the thing with a bit of trimming. Ho hum, well now I know and so do you because I make the mistakes for you.

This is a traditional Swedish thing, by the way. Mine are very low-key compared to most I've seen depicted on the internet. The Swedes are known for clean, modern design but when it comes to smörgåstartå, they tend to pile them high with curlicues of rolled cheese and cold cuts, vegetable folderols, shrimp and hard boiled egg slices; in short, they just don`t think it's possible to make a smörgåstartå that's too rococo.

I disagree.

It's not just that I lack the talent or the patience, (although I do), it's that my more minimalist sense of design apparently also extends to cakes, even if they are made out of sandwich. Still, if you like, this is a place to really let loose with your decorating ideas.

So, what do you put into your smörgåstartå? Whatever sandwich fillings you like, although I don't think sliced cold cuts and cheese are right at all, at least not inside. You can do like the Swedes and pile them on as much as you  like outside, but you want soft, icing-like fillings to continue the sense that you are eating a savoury cake.

I used egg salad (with minced fresh parsley), smoked trout salad (with Chow-Chow), and chicken salad (with celery and fresh savory). I can't give you quantities; it's going to depend on the size of your loaf of bread, but really, just basic sandwich fillings, chopped and mixed with a little mayonnaise. This Trout Paté would work, but I would also go for Ham Salad, liverwurst or chopped beef tongue salad, if you like that kind of thing - alas, I would have had it all to myself - or even just more of the icing, perhaps with chopped cucumbers or Pickled Beets.

The icing was a mixture of soft cream cheese and yogurt, with a little mayonnaise mixed in. I decorated the cakes with celery leaves, Bread & Butter Pickles, alfalfa sprouts, Red Pepper Jelly, olives and parsley.

I stuck some candles in the smörgåstartås, and the result was so festive that we broke into a spontaneous round of "Happy Birthday to Us!" as I lit them - and this is a very singing-adverse family.

And away we go - oh, wait. I haven't actually given you any recipe yet, have I? Well, here's one for the "icing". One recipe made just enough for each fairly small but high loaf. If you are making a big smörgåstartå you may need to double or even triple it.

I served this with simple green salads. It's so rich, varied and fancy in itself that I don't think anything else would make sense. 

Smörgåstartå Frosting:
250 g (1/2 pound) soft cream cheese, light is fine
3/4 cup yogurt, light is fine
1/4 cup mayonnaise, light is fine

Light is not only fine, I highly recommend it. This can end up being staggeringly rich if you are not careful. Which is okay up to a point; this is cake, even if it is also a sandwich. But still, the poor old digestive system can only take so much.

If your cream cheese came in a tub - and I don't want to hear about any of you using that nasty, gummy stuff that comes in foil-wrapped rectangles - use the tub to measure out the yogurt and mayonnaise - this is not rocket science or even rocket engineering, so eyeballing it is just fine. Actually, let me expand on that: both the cream cheese and the yogurt need to not contain any gums or gelatine, as they will interfere with the spreading and holding abilities. And make it tastes ho-hum, too, of course.

Put it all in a mixing bowl and beat it with an electric mixer until smooth and well blended, approximately 30 seconds or so. It should be a good, spreadable but not runny consistency, You may need to adjust one or another of the ingredients to get it just right, but this worked for me.

Trim your bread into a neat rectangular piece before filling and icing. If you can get 2 slices in, as I did (see first picture) either you are a much better slicer than I am or your bread is too high. Fill the sandwich generously with the filling of your choice.  Frost the smörgåstartå with the frosting, and decorate as you see fit.

That's it. If you have a nice, broad spackling trowel icing spreader, so much the better, but go forth, use your imagination, and have fun.

Oh, and be sure to use Seasonal! Ontario! Foods!

Last year at this time I made Cauliflower Patties. I note that last year at this time I was also apparently eating Great White tomatoes from the garden. *gnashes teeth* I knew things were much slower this year.


Marnie said...

Congratulations on reaching this milestone! I always enjoy seeing what you've been up to. Long live the blog!

Celia said...

Why is foil-wrapped cream cheese bad?

Ferdzy said...

Marnie, I'm always happy to see your comments too! Thanks!

Celia, I suppose I should admit I am thinking of one particular foil-wrapped cream cheese. Presumably it's possible to put decent cream cheese in a foil rectangle, but Philadelphia brand in particular is stiff, gummy and bland with a faintly bitter aftertaste. Terrible. There, I said it.