Now that the holiday season is underway and you've had your fair share of stuffing and mashed potatoes, I'd like to share a refreshing first course idea for your next dinner party. It's simple, inexpensive, and also tasty: smoked salmon. I was tasked with creating and executing a first course, which was to precede a pasta puttanesca. Tired of the usual salad, I wanted to find a pairing that would whet the appetite for a seafood pasta. I decided to think somewhat outside of the box and use one of my favorite brunch staples. Usually I have smoked salmon as a bagel topper or perhaps rolled with a dollop of cream cheese and served as a passed appetizer, but plating it as a first course during dinner was something I had not tried. You can have fun with the toppings, but I served the salmon over bibb lettuce and topped the fish with creme fraiche, capers, and a squeeze of lemon. It was an instant hit amongst the guests.