If Martha is the queen of food styling and presentation, I'm the court jester. My abilities in this area are pretty much non-existent, but I know a good idea when I see one. So when, on Saturday night, I found myself throwing together an impromptu pre-dinner cocktail party for four, I stole the idea of serving smoked salmon on skewers from a magazine I read while in England.
Instead of the salmon lying about listless and bored on a plate, you just skewer a slice or two and shimmy them up the stick. A few gratings of fresh black pepper and lemon zest and voila! Instant party snack. That plus some mini-sandwiches of cream cheese and cucumber, a Pimm's cocktail and Johnny Mathis crooning The First Noel and we were set.
Pimm's No. 1 cocktail
In a large pitcher, mix 1 cup Pimm's with 2 cups 7-up. (Sprite, Ginger Ale, lemonade, or a combination of any of them also work well.) Halve 1 lemon lengthwise and cut into slices. Reserve four slices for garnish and dump the rest in the pitcher, along with half a cucumber sliced in thick rounds. In a mortar and pestle, muddle about 1/3 cup of fresh mint just until it releases its fragrance, then add to the pitcher. Serve in highball glasses filled with ice and garnished with a lemon slice.