Sunday, July 02, 2006

SMORGASTORTA the Swedish Granddaddy of Dagwoods

I am a prudent glutton. I dream. I plan. I imagine elaborate exotic food scenarios that entail tastes, textures and colors from the far regions of the globe. Without realizing it, I can go years feasting on my imagination, planning for the moment when my vision becomes manifest. These food schemes might possess staggering heights of strategically balanced forms like a 250 count profiterole croquembouche encased in a violet-scented sugar spun cage. Or the chef d’oeuvre might be a flock of deep fried quails in a vermicelli nest stuffed with miniature sausages plumped with Armagnac soaked prunes strewn with edible silver leaf. Feathered head dresses are not optional with all of the pomp and circumstance of my Scheherazade-inspired feasts. However the longest standing food fantasy in my repertoire is delivered directly from the humble pages of the nightly paper. Meet Dagwood Bumstead: Patron Saint of the Midnight Snack, Hero of Sandwiches, and Eater of Everything-but-the-Kitchen-sink. I worship you. As a kid, I hungered to be under Dagwood’s tutelage, stacking odd leftovers into a behemoth towering inferno. Pork shoulder (bread), pickles (bread), tongue (bread), cheese and of course, the requisite sardine with tail in tact. The creation, a rough-hewn assemblage of common ingredients is built to satisfy. And thirty some years later, I admit to still never sinking my teeth into as much as a double decker; Patience, Prudence, or just plain Fear of an upset stomach?

More recently I stumbled upon an oddly appealing Swedish party dish called Smorgastorta or sandwich cake. I started day dreaming and planning once again, this version of the bread enclosed convenience food upgraded from the Dagwood. The torta has all the necessary ingredients for inclusion in my mental recipe book: the exhaustive list of ingredients, layers of creamy texture awash in sauce- sour cream, crème fraiche, butter, and cream cheese, the briny flavors of the sea swaddled next to the porcine and celebratory gusto in the form of tomato radish roses, salami cornucopias piped with mayonnaise rosettes and olive accents. As one would imagine, sandwich cakes are concocted to impress, feed and subdue a decent sized crowd of 25 or so. Unsure if I would be able to find a crew with appetites capable of taking on the Granddaddy of Them All, the vision had to be banked…until now. Now I am three months into a food blog with a self proclaimed moniker than challenges me to “beautifully fill out”… literally and metaphorically. Besides I have two special guests with whom I can grandly celebrate time with, my Mother and my Father. This big party of three will chase down and conquer the toothsome torta. We will mark and honor the dreams and passions that thread through a life and then, when the time is right- take flight. Tonight we Smorgastorta!


Prepare the cake one day before it will be eaten to ensure the flavors and textures will come together, but dream about it for at least a few years to imagine the most winning combination of ingredients to claim top notch satisfaction. Remember, this is quite simply a big sandwich with a lot of fanfare that comes from height, girth, vegetables posing as flowers and the meeting of exotic fillings. While the derivative of this particular cake is Swedish, there is no reason why one should not stake any other country and its' foods as inspiration. However, since I do have a great affinity for the full flavored food of this country I stuck with their tradition. For my small party I chose a heart form which appeared to be able to adequately feed 6 moderate appetites. I decided upon pumpernickle for taste not to mention the fetching visual contrast with the creamy fillings. The interior layers went like this:

(Bread base) Liverwurst, horseradish and Jarlsburg cheese

(Bread) Mayonnaise, sliced hard boiled eggs, chopped pickles

(Bread) Sour cream, watercress and ham

(Bread) Shrimp salad made with chopped shrimp, mayonnaise, dill and chopped seedless cucumber

(Bread cap) Frost with sour cream and feather sides with dill. Garnish

As it turned out Smorgastorta which I initially thought was my own idiosyncratic curiosity appealed to many others. It seemed to be a kind of beacon that alerted others that a "good time was about to be had". I think that saying and hearing that word bounce around a few times primes the pump for pleasant feelings.

11 comments:

jbird said...

If you can see me now, I am applauding you, Dagwood wanna-be...at last the answer to the tantalizing riddle of all those images from 6/27. That is a most awesome and luscious sandwich, but I ask, where was the chocolate? Couldn't Nutella have been incorporated into that recipe??
:-) You were prob right to omit it, but I am secretly rooting now for the dessert equivalent of the savory cakey-sandwich.....imagine the possibility???? Nutella, bananas, toasted hazelnuts, honey, creme fraiche....oiy-vey. Ah, the eternal conflict of savory-sweet.
Love the section of the smorgastorta....I'd gladly be drafting for you, if I get to parttake in those lovely creations.

Callipygia said...

jbird- Yes I know the possibilities are stagg-citing...The nutella one could be made stacking 50 crepes. Groan- We did get a fun picture of the torta with one slice perfectly removed, but blogger had a hard time downloading pics for a few days so I nixed it.

Maritza said...

What a wonderful, dreamy sandwich brought to life! I need to thank Judy for directing me to your blog. It's great!

Callipygia said...

maritza- thanks for reading...I've heard your mom makes a mean Cuban black bean.

Maritza said...

She does make great beans and a mysterious pumpkin flan, unfortunately, trying to get a recipe out of the woman is impossible!

Anonymous said...

:-) Yes, I tried to make the mysterious pumpkin flan and my version was nasty...like a really stringy pumpkin pie filling.
So, we'll have to pursue Maritza's mom further...to add to the repertoire...I heard about a recent potato salad that was consumed all by 9:30 AM....it was meant for lunch.

Callipygia said...

mysterious pumpkin flan? Early morning massive potato salad consumption- sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

Love the drawings. They're great! So what did your folks think about the sandwich? Sounds like a great feast for the eyes and stomache. Just the way you want it....Mmmm...

Callipygia said...

anonymous- the parents loved it. Originally the cake was for the 3 of us- but before they arrived a party broke out, a fair amount consumed. Like I said, it is so festive everyone tends to gravitate towards it. I was only sorry it wasn't bigger!

miragee said...

Wow, it's not lunch time yet, but your photos give me the illusion that it's time to eat:-). The food is so beautiful and I bet it must taste good too! I love the food illustrations in other posts as well. I am also a glutton, but it seems that I still need to refine my tastebuds. I am not a gourmet yet...

Anonymous said...

I'm from Sweden and i liked your story of the Sandwichcake! Just have to say that it's best with wite bread. This tårta is the best thing ti the party!!!