Yesterday I shared how I deviated from my St. Patrick’s Day norm of Shepherd’s Pie to create a menu entirely from the “Irish Pub Cooking” cookbook I’ve had for sometime but hadn’t yet experimented with. I was so inspired by the gorgeous photos and recipe details that I just had to break the cardinal rule of never serving recipes that you haven’t perfected or at the very least, tried once.
Actually, I break that rule all the time. Life is too short to take food so seriously. Home cooking and entertaining should be fun.
Experiment. Yes, on your guests. Don’t be afraid.
Besides, if you fail, they will love you for being human, laughing it off and ordering pizza. And sometimes, your bravery will be rewarded with a gem of a dish that has everyone swooning over their empty, crumb licked plates.
Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets is just such a dish.
“Irish Pub Cooking”, Parragon Books Ltd.
You will need six 3 1/2 inch loose-bottom tartlet pans.
heaping 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
5 Tbsp COLD butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp creamed prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp Spanish capers, chopped
3 egg yolks
7 oz smoked salmon trimmings
bunch of fresh dill, chopped, plus extra sprigs to garnish
Kosher salt and pepper
Note: I have modified the directions slightly, adding more instruction, as they were a little vague for a less experienced cook. “Add a little cold water” isn’t really going to cut it for someone who has never made a crust before. And if you are anything like me, you would totally try this recipe even if you’d never made a crust before.
Butter six 3 1/2 inch loose-bottom tartlet pans. Sift the flour and salt together and put into a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.
Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add a little cold water (see what I mean), just enough to bring the dough together (2-3 Tbsp). Start with 1 Tbsp at a time and mix together with your hands so that you can feel when the dough is the consistency that you are looking for – soft but very workable, not sticky or dry and crumbly.
Turn out onto a floured counter and shape into a log so that it is easy to portion out into six equal-sized pieces.
Roll each piece to fit the tartlet pans.
Carefully fit each piece of dough in its shell and press well to fit the pan.
My tart pans are 4 1/4 inch (I am now in the market for 3 1/2 inch pans) but I was determined still to get six tarts out of the recipe so my shells are rolled a little thinner.
Roll the rolling-pin over the pan to neaten the edges and trim the excess dough.
Put a piece of parchment paper in each pan, fill with dried beans or pie weights …
(learn all about Blind Baking here)
and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bake the tartlet shells blind in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the paper and beans/weights. If you use beans, you can save them in a mason jar to re-use again and again. Be sure to label them though because once you have used them for blind baking, you won’t want to eat them.
Meanwhile, put the sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, and drained capers into a bowl with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Be careful with the salt as smoked salmon is pretty salty.
Add the egg yolks, smoked salmon, and chopped dill (I put in about 2 Tbsp) and carefully mix again. Divide this mixture among the tartlet shells and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until just firm (mine took about 15 minutes).
About the salmon; I used cold smoked salmon, which is more like lox with a soft, silky texture. You could also use hot smoked salmon which is drier and flaky. Both are usually either in the deli section or by the seafood counter.
Here’s where I lost my sixth tart, there just wasn’t enough filling.
Thankfully, I only had two dinner guests so there was a tart for each adult and Sara and David split one; although they devoured their respective halves and would most certainly have eaten a whole one. Don’t worry about Nathan, he wouldn’t have eaten one of these tarts for anything.
Not a chance. No way.
Which is just fine because I did not want to share.
Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with dill sprigs.
I am planning on making these again for Easter (they are that good) but I will be making them in smaller tart pans as bite sized appetizers for a bigger crowd.
I will let you know how they turn out.
In fact, I may experiment ahead of time. No, not because I’m perfecting anything, I’m just not sure I can wait until Easter to have another tart.
Tomorrow, I will tell you all about my second favorite dish of the day;
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage.
I may make this again for Easter too as it had gorgeous color and was absolutely delicious!