What's for Breakfast?

Deep Dish Lox and Cream Cheese Breakfast Pizza

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Since there's not really a lot to say about making this yummy breakfast item, let me tell you (in case you're interested) how it came about.

My husband received a gift card to Pizzeria Uno – or whatever they call themselves now…Uno…something like that.  Anyway, we went there Thursday night with the kids for dinner.

Of course, the only time a trip out to eat with one or both children was ever easy was when Alex was in the womb and Julia was just a little unborn sprite spirit pestering the Powers That Be for a Family of her very own to torture.

Okay, I exaggerate.  They're little kids.  They behave pretty well the majority of the time.  And the times they aren't behaving, they're just being silly and having a hard time putting the brakes on. 

Fortunately for our family, we have Bill, the Brake-Master.  At one point Thursday night, before the appetizer and the kids' make-your-own pizza setups arrived, Julia was…well…she was burping.  Loud and proud.  Not a LOT.  Twice.  And she said "excuse me" (eventually) after the first one, but, you know, she couldn't help but beam with pride at the volume.  She's four.  Bill told her not to do it again.  This from a man who could recite the alphabet and several dirty limericks in burps in front of his buddies, probably.  And plus, a person – especially a small one of few years – is sometimes caught by surprise (sometimes) and unable to keep a lid on the belch.  It's an oops situation.  Not a "bad child" thing.  Usually.

Well anyway, she burped, was cautioned by Mr. Brake-Master, and less than a minute later, she did it again.  And then Alex did something – either he caught the burp bug too or did something else not entirely appropriate, and Bill took both kids out of the building for a little chat.  When they came back, Bill said they'd reached an understanding.

After that point, Julia and Alex both made it a point – several times – to either demonstrate how they'd keep their mouths shut if they felt a burp coming on – or to announce "see how we're not burping?"

As you can see, we have very little to actually talk about as a family.

Anyway.  That didn't story didn't inspire the breakfast – I just wanted to share.

For dinner, the kids each had a make-your-own pizza, and Bill and I shared a salad (spinach, grilled chicken and gorgonzola – YUM) and the traditional Chicago deep dish pizza – which was basically crust, a two-inch-thick layer of enormous clumps of sausage, dotted with plum tomatoes.

I could only eat one slice of the pizza.  Too much sausage for me.

I could, however, if no one was watching, devour the entire deep-dish pizza crust.  I love those crusts.  They've got a more biscuit-like texture then regular pizza, and they're thick and filling and loaded with starch.  Which is one of my favorite food groups, in case you didn't know that.

We brought home 3 slices of that pizza, Bill took two to work for lunch on Friday, and on Saturday morning, I warmed the remaining slice in the oven, and then topped it with a fried egg.  He said it was really good.

Okay.  So there's that.

Now, last night, I made fried chicken and roasted sweet potatoes for dinner, and we had stuff for salads as well.  I was also going to make corn muffins (the upcoming TWD recipe) – except I was missing an ingredient.  So I decided to make biscuits.  (Can you sense a theme?)

I used a recipe in The Best Recipe, which was put out by the fabulous Cooks Illustrated people a number of years ago.  The biscuit section includes two basic recipes – one for Fluffy Biscuits, and one for Flaky Biscuits.  I checked both ingredient lists and went with the Fluffy recipe because I had everything on that list and didn't have the shortening required to follow the Flaky recipe.

I also added cheddar cheese to the dough and grated some parmesan on top of the biscuits before they went in the oven.

They.  Were.  Yummy. 

Alex, in particular, raved about them.  He didn't want to eat any of his sweet potato, but when I made it clear he wasn't getting a second biscuit without eating some sweet potato first, he dug in without further protest.  (He still acted like we'd poisoned him – or forced him to eat okra – but at least he wasn't protesting.)

I'd offered to make breakfast pizzas for Sunday morning, and had fully intended to make my usual pizza dough for them.  But then….Alex had a slice of pear tart for his breakfast (another new favorite for him), and so it would be down to three of us…so Bill suggested I just make one and we could also cook up some bacon and eggs if necessary.

And I had liked the biscuits so much, I decided to use a biscuit crust (sort of like the Uno pizza crust) instead of a yeasted dough crust.  And Bill and I both agreed that the single pizza should be the cream cheese and lox one.

So that's the story.

And it was really terribly easy.

I got out my block of cream cheese to let it soften.

I minced two little red onions – the size of shallots – or you could probably use chives.  Or a ring of a red onion.  Whatever you like.

Then I made the biscuit dough.

As I said, the recipe is from The Best Recipe, by the editors of Cooks Illustrated, and is on page 381 (at least of my hardcover edition).

Fluffy Biscuits

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes, plus 2 tablespoons melted for brushing tops (or, in the case of a pizza, for brushing the outer edge of the crust)

3/4 cup cold buttermilk or 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat or whole-milk plain yogurt

2-3 tablespoons additional buttermilk (or milk), if needed

1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2.  Mix or pulse flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or the workbowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade.  With your fingertips, a pastry blender, 2 knives, or steel blade of the food processor, mix, cut, or process butter into the dry ingreditnes until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps.

3.  If making by hand, stir in buttermilk with a rubber spatula or fork until mixture forms into soft, slightly sticky ball.  If dough feels firm and dry bits are not gathering into a ball, sprinkle dough clumps with additional tablespoon of buttermilk (or milk for the yogurt dough).  Be careful not to overmix.  If using food processor, pulse until dough gathers into moist clumps.  Remove from food processor bowl and form into rough ball.

4.  With lightly floured hands, divide dough into 12 equal portions.  Liglty pat a portion of dough back and forth a few times between floured hands until it begins to form a ball, then pat lightly with cupped hands to form a rough ball.  Repeat with remaining dough, placing formed dough rounds 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush dough tops with melted butter.  (May be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.)  Bake until biscuit tops are light brown, 10 to 12 minutes.  Serve immediately.

*  I didn't make 12 balls with the dough – I just patted the dough into a circle about 8-9 inches in diameter and cut it half, then into quarters, then each quarter into thirds, kind of like when you make scones.  The shape didn't seem to have an adverse effect on the flavor.

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Now, to make the pizza, instead of making 12 balls or wedges with the dough, you pat the dough into whatever pan you're using.  I used a 9" tart pan.  You could use a cake pan, a pizza pan if you have one, or even a small baking dish or a pie plate. 

After you pat the dough into the pan,  lightly brush the outer edge with the melted butter.

Gently break up the 8 oz block of cream cheese and press to cover the center portion of the dough.  Sprinkle half the minced red onion over the cream cheese.

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Place tart pan (if using) on a baking sheet, and place in the oven.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden and puffed and cream cheese has softened.

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Top with slices of smoked salmon and sprinkle with remaining minced onion.

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Return to oven for a minute or two, just to warm the salmon a bit.

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Carefully – using caution and intelligence – remove the ring of the tart pan. 

Now, there's a smart way to do this, and my way.

The smart way would be to set the tart on something like a 28 oz can of tomatoes and letting the outer ring fall off naturally. 

MY way, aka The Stupid Way, was, this morning, to hold the (fresh out of the 450 degree oven) pan (using an oven mitt – I'm only MOSTLY stupid) with one hand and gently push off the ring with the other (oven mitted) hand.  Of course, since my hands are attached to my arms, which are still (amazingly) attached to my body, when the outer (metal, hot from the 450 degree oven) ring drops off, guess where it will land.  Yes.  On my innocent and unsuspecting forearm.  I yelped.  And quickly put the tart down on the fresh-from-the-450-degree-oven sheet pan.

You know, it's not always easy to slide a spatula UNDER the thin metal flat part of the tart pan.  In fact, it's pretty darned hard when it's all really, really hot.

I stared at it all for a moment, not wanting to do anything that might destroy the pizza/tart.

Aha!  I have a pizza peel, don't I?  I sure do!

So I slipped that between the tart crust and the tart pan disk, and was able to transport our breakfast safely to a cutting board.  (See photo above.)

Slice and serve immediately.

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Yummy.

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