If you’re planning on having people over for New Year’s Eve, I have a fool-proof appetizer and drink combination that is not only easy, it’s also unique and interesting.
Have you heard of Varmrökt lax? Unless you speak Swedish, probably not. It’s hot smoked salmon, but don’t worry, no curing or smoking required here! Believe it or not, you can pick up a hot smoked salmon in the frozen section at IKEA (ASG certified with no additives or preservatives). All it takes is a quick trip to the Swedish furniture store and you’ll be able to assemble a stunning party platter.
Hot smoked salmon differs from Gravlax or Lox (what you most commonly see in grocery stores) in a few ways. Gravlax is cold-cured in salt and/or sugar and herbs, resulting in a raw texture, whereas hot smoked salmon is prepared just like it sounds, with heat and smoke, and results in a firm, flaky texture. It’s this cooked, pieced texture and smoky flavor that make this salmon special.
How to Prepare the Salmon
Simply defrost the frozen salmon you picked up from IKEA in the refrigerator overnight, then I suggest serving it with a bowl of delicious whipped lemon-horseradish cream and quick pickled red onions, or any kind of dip or pickles you have on hand. It’s delicious on top of crackers, mini pancakes (blinis), and sliced cucumbers. Place everything on a large wooden board, and you have an amazingly colorful and inviting presentation.
If you’d like to try your hand at making hot smoked salmon yourself from scratch, this recipe is fairly easy to follow, but for best results, you’ll have to invest in a smoker
You can also chop up the leftover salmon and mix it into an omelet or into some mayonnaise for a delicious spread.
The perfect accompaniment to this beautiful salmon platter is a glass of champagne to welcome in the new year. There are plenty of champagne cocktail recipes out there, but this year I wanted to do something a bit more festive, so I came up with these orange blossom scented sugar cubes in the shape of a star!
It’s a lot of fun to drop one of these star shaped sugar cubes into your champagne coupe, and watch as it fizzes away. You could also squeeze a bit of orange juice into your cup for an extra dose of fruity flavor
Orange Blossom Sugar Cubes
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange bloosom water
- 1 orange zest. finely chopped and dried see note below
- Zest the orange the day before, and allow to dry overnight at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Place sugar into the food processor. Add zest and orange blossom water, pulse for a few seconds – try not to make it too wet. Pat mixture into two small silicone candy molds making sure to press mixture fully into the mold.
- Once the oven has heated, turn it off, then place sugar molds on baking tray and allow them to dry in the slowly cooling oven for 1 to 2 hours.
- Remove from oven, then push the sugar cubes out of mold onto a baking sheet. Store in an air tight container. Makes about 24 small cubes, depending on your mold.