These last lazy days of the year, I’m blessed to be on vacation. My office is closed between Christmas and New Years and, boy, is this break right on time. I take the week really relax, which is much easier to do when you know no one else is “at the office” sending emails that you’ll have to sort through when you get back! I get comfy in the house and fill my days with things I love.
I also indulge in all the riches of the season: Nibbling through sweets and other yummy treats that family and friends have given us (like the amazing Mary Berry’s Light Christmas Cake recipe that my sister made – I’ve had a slice EVERY day since Christmas Eve), regularly sipping my Mom’s “Lethal” eggnog (a cherished family recipe), and making myself lazy and delishly decadent weekday brunches.
Most days of the week, breakfast is a power smoothie or a serving of Budget Bytes Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal (which I almost always have in the freezer. It is an awesome way to use up past-their-prime bananas). But this week, there’s nowhere to run off to in the morning. The boys are out of school, and there’s no morning hustle. So after I work out and give the boys their breakfast, I get dressed and get to making something good.
For this recipe, I raided my fridge to see what ingredients I could pull together. I discovered I had everything to make bagel and lox – one of my all-time favorite brunch foods – EXCEPT the bagels! But what I did have was some cornbread. I sliced it into planks that I buttered and griddled, which gave me a nice crispy, crunchy base reminiscent of a well-toasted bagel. I’d had some really delicious Honey Smoked Fish Co. barbecue honey smoked salmon from my local Safeway. I also had some leftover corn, tomato and avocado salad which I thought I could use instead of the traditional sliced veggies (tomato, onion, cucumber, capers). This salad, along with the corn bread and barbecue smoked salmon, cemented the “Southern” feel of the dish. And the addition of the avocado in the salad also gave me avocado toast vibes. Believe me, this plate hit all my brunch favorite things and had me smiling all the way down to my Alabama roots!
*Cornbread – You can use your favorite cornbread recipe here. To make planks, I used my house recipe cornbread (adapted on the classic cornbread recipe in Anna Thomas’ classic cookbook, The Vegetarian Epicure. I’ll post my recipe at some point, but you can see the original recipe here). I started with a 9″ pan of cornbread that I cut in quarters. Then you can slice across the long side of each quarter to make 1/4″ – 1/2″ planks. They need to be thick enough so you can butter and flip them over on the griddle them without causing them to break or crumble.
**Butter & Cream Cheese – Make sure to soften your butter and cream cheese for this recipe. Since cornbread is crumbly, you want your spreads to be soft enough to apply without breaking the bread. I used a block of cream cheese because that’s what I had on hand. It was soft, but not quite room temperature, so I sort of applied a slab of cream cheese and lightly pressed it to spread it around. I will use whipped cream cheese next time I make this. It will make spreading a way less delicate procedure.
Southern Smoked Salmon & Cornbread
- Large piece of cornbread (about 1/6th of a 9″ pan of cornbread), sliced into planks* (see note)
- ~1 Tbsp. salted butter, softened** (see note)
- 2-3 Tbsps. cream cheese, softened to room temperature or whipped cream cheese** (see note)
- 1/3 c. hot-smoked salmon
- 1/2 c. corn-avocado-tomato salad (recipe follows)
Gently butter both sides of the cornbread planks with softened butter. Add to a pan, preheated over medium heat. Griddle until nicely golden brown, then flip to second side and cook to golden brown. Remove from heat to serving plate.
Gently spread a thick layer of cream cheese over griddled cornbread. Top with flaked salmon and crown with salad.
Optional additions and substitutions: You could add an over easy egg on top of the salmon. You could also sprinkle the top with Everything Bagel seasoning. You can substitute cold-smoked salmon or lox for the hot smoked. (If you’re serving to less adventurous eaters, hot-smoked will be more like cooked salmon consistency and will be less of an issue for people who don’t like “raw” foods.) And you could also substitute a salad with all the traditional fixins by combining diced tomatoes, cucumber, onion and capers (w/ lemon juice and salt to taste) instead of what I’ve suggested here for a slightly more traditional flavor profile.
In a medium bowl, combine one can of drained sweet corn, two diced tomatoes, a diced shallot, a diced avocado, a few squeezes of lemon juice and salt and diced or dried jalapeños to taste. Stir to combine and let sit for at least 30 mins before serving.
PS – I’m really loving how lots of chefs and cooks are sharing playlists to go with dishes or meals, so I thought I’d share a bit of what was playing when creating this dish. It’s part of a super-long playlist I created called “Beach House Chill” and these songs are from the beginning of that playlist (which is why they seem to be in alphabetical order!).