By request from my friend Beka Sacran, here's my family's favorite breakfast ever (well, except for breakfast at Cafe Pasqual's in Santa Fe, which trumps any breakfast on the planet). I opted to name it what Caitlin used to call it in her toddler years, which is, naturally, what I still call it in my head. We eat this fabulous stuff with great celebration off and on throughout the year, but we eat it ritually on Christmas Eve, July 4th, and the morning of the annual Scottish Festival. Always and anon, amen.
This is not what you'd call a kindler, gentler breakfast. Nay, me lovies, but this be muckle hearty morning fare! If a bowl of Cheerios is your idea of a slam-bang way to start your day, no offense, but you'll need to either buck up or move on.
We started serving this in bits and slivers to all our kids while they were still in their high chairs, and they all adore the stuff. Now comes our much-beloved new son-in-law who was not similarly weaned, and it looks like he's going to be a tough convert. As yet, he'd rather have the Cheerios. But since it's one of his cousins who requested I post this (and since we've spotted a number of his kinfolk surveying our fridge for any sign of our salmwichin leftovers!), we do yet hold out hope for him!
aka Salmon & Bagels
Smoked Salmon (see my notes, below recipe)
pumpernickel bagels - 1 per person
regular cream cheese
boiled egg, chopped or sliced (1/2 - 1 egg per person)
raw onion, diced
fresh lemon, quartered
juice - orange or grapefruit is best
fresh hot coffee
(Yes, you'll want those last three items for the full experience. We do not consider them optional.)
At our house, we put everything on the table and everyone builds their own.
Toast the bagels slightly, just enough to warm them and give them a little crunch. Spread with cream cheese. Add 2-3 layers of smoked salmon slices. Squeeze lemon on salmon generously. Sprinkle with diced onion and chopped egg. Dot with capers, making sure to let the brine drain off the edge of the spoon against the inside of the caper jar -- you want capers, not caper juice. Put the top on the bagel, and open wide. YUM.
We like to have a little mound of strawberry jam on the plate to swab onto our bagel scraps every few bites. Kinda like progressive dessert. Oh, it's yummy.
Juice and coffee taste even more amazing than ever with this stuff. Part of the whole palate experience. Must have them. But I already said that, didn't I?
Best served with bagpipes or some Robert Burns ballads playing in the background.
On purchasing smoked salmon: I used to look for Scottish salmon, but over time we noted that we couldn't really detect that much difference among smoked salmons from various source waters. Now we buy the Kirkland Norwegian Smoked Salmon at Costco, which is far and away the best buy we've ever found anywhere -- it costs about a third of what we'd pay somewhere like Whole Foods. The way I figure it, Norway isn't all that far from Scotland. And besides, Salmon are amorous little buggers, famous for swishing off to far off places for courting purposes. So I figure these Norwegian fishies may very well have had a wild weekend at the highland coast at some point, and I'd say that counts for Scottish influence. That's my story, anyway.
Bagels - We like Einstein Bros. Bagels. We've bought the bagels the day before at times, but Dan prefers to scoot out early in the morning to buy the bagels fresh. Bagels are appreciably better the day they're made. Pumpernickel bagels can be hard to find, but there's a predominately Jewish neighborhood near us, so we can usually find them. Hey, call your local bakeries and delis! You never know, they may be willing to make them for you by request.
And one last thing: Lowfat and no-fat cream cheeses leave a tinny, chemical aftertaste on the palate, and have a slimier texture than the real stuff. Not worth it, and definitely not good with smoked salmon. I say use the real stuff and make up for the calories somewhere else!