Once, when my late mother was rushed to hospital, I knew she was on her way to recovery when she opened her eyes and said, "I never told you where I hid the diamond earrings." Then she murmured, "I think I could just about manage a little smoked salmon sandwich." It was less a mutter, more a commandment - the 11th, I guess: thou shalt mark all occasions great and small with the serving of a portion of best smoked salmon.
My father, who smoked his own salmon for our small deli, was able to slice salmon like Oistrakh played the violin. He was a virtuoso of this rare skill; no electric knife for him, simply a steady hand, sharp blade, years of practice and admiring glances from waiting customers.
Growing up with smoked salmon on tap, as it were, I naturally hated it and would never touch it until my parents retired and we finally had to pay good money for the oily, pink stuff. Of course, that is when I came to love it, lox, stock and barrel. I still prefer the mild, buttery "London" cure that is a perfect foil for Flaum's fabulous, mouth-puckering, sour pickled cucumbers, to the peat-fuelled Scottish versions. And if you can get wild, so much the better.
Normally, I prefer to leave it well alone, but there is nothing wrong with a little gilding of the lily now and then. This is my version of the inspired pairing that was first devised by the celebrated chef Wolfgang Puck in California (where else), birthplace of the new-wave pizza. It seems at first to go against both Jewish and Italian tradition. But, when you think about it, it's just two of our favourite things put together, smoked salmon and pizza. What's not to like?
● 2x 9inch(23cm) pizza bases
● 2-3 tbsp olive oil
● 25g fresh dill, chopped
● 100g goats' cheese log, sliced, or feta, crumbled (both work well)
● A dozen black Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
● 1 red onion, finely sliced
● 100g smoked salmon, torn into strips
● Preheat the oven to its highest setting.
● Place the pizza bases on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil.
● Sprinkle over half the dill, then the cheese, olives and red onion.
● Bake until the cheese melts and the crust is golden brown (about 10-12 minutes).
● Cool for a minute, then arrange the smoked salmon and remaining dill over the top.
● Serve at once with a green salad (and Flaum of Brooklyn sour pickles).