Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Birthday Brunch with Girlfriends: Menu

This week I had another wonderful opportunity to break out the Red You Are Special Plate. One of my gal pals in the local expat community had a birthday on Monday. She's had a really rough go of it lately and had been feeling very down. Apparently, she's not celebrated her birthday for years and didn't have any particular plans for it this year, either. When one of our mutual friends started to organize a breakfast gathering for her (see KettwigeFrau), I jumped on the chance for my own "kitchen therapy" and asked everyone to meet at my place for a birthday brunch. Helping my friend feel special, loved, and very worth celebrating gave me a sense of purpose. Isn't that always true about giving? We get so much joy out of it ourselves. Anyway, I think the party was a success for us all: my friend was very touched as we all ate, drank, talked, and laughed for hours.

While I do love the traditional German Brötchen breakfasts we cherish here on the weekends (see Weekend Reprieve), for this special occasion with fellow expats, I wanted to break out some old favorite recipes I would make for holiday mornings back in the States.

Thus, our Menu featured:
  • Smoked Salmon Pizza
  • Baked Apple-Stuffed French Toast
  • Ham & Mushroom Egg Casserole
  • Chocolate Torte with Fresh Strawberries
  • Chocolate Mouse with Slivered Almonds
  • Brötchen & Coissants with a variety of jams, cheeses, honey and Nutella
  • Fresh Fruit Platter
  • Coffee, Tea, and Mimosas (Bubbly with Orange Juice)

I've been asked to share the Salmon recipe, so here it is as best as I can try to capture it. My problem is I cook by "feel" based on my mood and available ingredients as much as what is designated in the "recipe," which is only ever a guideline in my mind, anyway. So play with it and make it your own!

Smoked Salmon Pizza
Crust: Prepare a pizza crust ahead of time. You can make one from scratch, or use a box mix or prepared refrigerator-dough. Back in the States, I could keep it really simply with Boboli prepared crusts. Whatever crust you use, brush it with olive oil, season it with a little Italian seasoning (I used Krauter Salz this week and fresh Rosemary from my Garden), and some pressed garlic if you like, and bake it according to directions. You may do this the day before, as the crust needs to cool anyway and you will serve it cold.
Smoked Salmon Pizza

Cheese: I try to start with a package of about 6oz or 150gr  Philadelphia-brand flavored cream cheese. In the US it was Chive & Onion, here in Germany it is called "Kräuter."  I add about a teaspoon of prepared horseradish, a half teaspoon of Worstershire sauce and a few drops of lemon juice and stir it well. This, too, can be done a day ahead.

Salmon and Toppings: I buy a nice package of thinly sliced smoked Salmon. I've tried many varieties and have never been disappointed, so get what you like. You'll want about 8oz for a 12" pizza. I know these are American measures, but you'll figure it out - everything is approximate, anyway :)

For added color and flavor, I usually toss on some finely-sliced rings of sweet yellow or red onion and a smattering of capers. In most cases, if I have the time, I prefer to caramelize the onions, as I did this week. And if tomatoes are in season and looking good, a few slices of Roma are wonderful, as well - I omitted those this time.  When I have fresh dill, I like to throw that on, as well. Be creative :)

Assemble the pizza shortly before serving. Just pull out the prepared crust, spread the cheese mixture on it, and then layer the smoked salmon and other toppings. Keep this cold until you serve it.


1 comment:

  1. I look forward to the next special birthday brunch so that I can enjoy the wonderful spread instead of having to make do with a very crispy, but ultimately dull brötchen! It was a lovely morning.