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Scottish Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Cream Cheese Tart

Scotland has a long tradition of smoking both haddock and salmon. In medieval times, special smokehouses small narrow buildings with wooden beams - dotted the countryside, although in Scotland's fishing districts, it was common for fishermen's wives to smoke their fish in their own chimneys, using peat as a fuel instead of the oak and ash preferred further south. The addition of cooked cucumber revives a tradition dating back to the sixteenth century, when English cucumbers were regarded, like courgettes, as prime targets for stuffing and baking, as well as pickling (gherkins). They have an age-old affinity with salmon.
Long regarded as a luxury food and a Christmas treat, smoked salmon is now enjoying all-year-round popularity and this tart is guaranteed not to fail.

ingredients

serves 4 - 6
175 g (6 oz) plain shortcrust pastry
1 large cucumber, skinned and chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
225 g (8 oz) smoked salmon, broken into largish pieces
225 g (8 oz) cream cheese
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
150 ml (1/4 pint) double cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
fresh herb sprigs, to garnish

method

1. Line a shallow 23 cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.

3. To salt the cucumber, put the chopped pieces in a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt.

4. Put a small plate and a heavy object or two on top of the plate. Leave for 30 minutes, when much of the superfluous water will have drained away.

5. Rinse, drain and dry in kitchen paper. Place the cucumber pieces, together with the smoked salmon, into the pre-baked pastry case. Set aside.

6. Put the cream cheese, eggs, egg yolk, cream, herbs and lemon zest and juice in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste and whisk together until well mixed. Spoon the cheese mixture over the salmon and cucumber in the pastry case.

7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the tart is cooked but not too dry. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs.

8. SERVE warm with small boiled potatoes and a green vegetable; or cold with a cucumber salad (made with sliced cucumber, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper) or a green salad.

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