Can we talk? I cannot do anything involving salmon with cream cheese or bagels without remembering a funny story that happened way before Hubby came into my life. It makes me shake my head and wonder.
A long, long time ago I was dating a nice gentleman. His family was very Italian. He lived one block over from his very Italian mother, directly behind her house. There was a gate between the backyards that connected the two properties. His grandmother lived with his mother, and she spoke no English. But that did not stop her from watching “Wheel of Fortune” every afternoon. She would shout the same thing over and over again at the television “Buy a vowel.” And it really didn’t matter what the contestant did, she still insisted they buy that vowel.
She was a nice old lady who liked to pinch your cheeks really heard. Every Sunday after mass the whole family took Grandma to Brunch at “Two Guys From Italy”. Sunday Brunch was served buffet style. One Sunday I joined them. As I sat down at the table after making my selection, his mother gave me what can only be described as the evil eye. She was always leary of me because I wasn’t Italian, but at least I was Catholic.
“I thought you said you were Catholic.” She said slowly, her eyes narrowing even further.
“I am.” Was my response, wondering where this line of questioning was coming from.
“Then why are you eating Jew Food.” She asked, pointing to my plate. It took me a minute to realize she was talking about my bagel with cream cheese and lox. I kid you not.
Now that we’ve had our chuckle, let’s talk pinwheels. I love these little rolls of tortilla filled with all sort of cream-cheese goodness. These can be made in advance, then all you need do is slice and plate. When you use ingredients like smoked salmon, the pinwheel is elevated above the ordinary deli tray. The red of the peppers and the green of the spinach give the platter a nice Holiday feel.
Smoked Salmon Pinwheels
16 Roasted Red Bell Pepper Strips
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill weed
4 Flour Tortillas (8 to 10 inches in diameter)
4.5 oz Smoked Salmon, skinned and finely chopped
16 Spinach Leaves
Note: You can always use roasted bell peppers from a jar, cut into strips and set aside until ready to use. Or you could make the peppers if you have the time.
To Roast the Peppers: Adjust oven rack so that a rack is in the upper third of the oven rather than center. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, set aside. Rinse and dry the pepper. Place whole peppers on their sides on the prepared pan. Roast in the oven until the skins are completely blistered, charred and the peppers are tender, turning as needed for even roasting. This is a slow process, taking 45 minutes to an hour to complete. Once the peppers are done, transfer to a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This will “sweat” the peppers. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove stems and charred skins. Cut peppers in half to remove the seeds and then cut in long strips, about 5-inches long by 1/4-inch wide. Set aside.
Mix cream cheese and dill weed. Spread about 1/4 cup of the cream cheese mixture over each tortilla. Set aside.
Remove any skin from the smoked salmon. Finely chop the salmon or flake into pieces with a fork. Sprinkle each tortilla with 1/4 cup salmon. Place 3 or 4 spinach leaves and 4 bell pepper strips evenly spaced on each tortilla.
Roll up tortillas as tightly as possible; seal edge of each rolled tortilla with additional cream cheese mixture. Wrap each roll securely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
To serve, unwrap the rolls one at a time, trim the ends, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Place cut side up on serving platter.