My last mini-project in my mini-kitchen before heading off to Tanzania for a few weeks was inspired by brunch at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in Nolita. My brother and sister-in-law took me to there while I was visiting Manhattan a couple of weekends ago. The entire meal was spectacular. Every bite was packed with flavor. The chef came out to speak with us for a bit, and mentioned that making lox was remarkably simple.
A few weekends earlier, one of my work friends got a KitchenAid with a dough hook attachment and started making bagels. He said they were easy to make and a million times better than the stuff you get at Einstein’s (the closest thing to a bagel shop around these parts.)
Cured salmon. Bagels. New York City. I think you can see where this is going.
So if you’re craving that corner deli experience –
Five days in advance: start the salmon, order cheese culture
I used this recipe for the salmon which was easy to follow and tastes great.
I would also recommend ordering the cheese cultures as soon as possible (unless you normally have that stuff hanging around). My local stores don’t carry cultures, so I ordered here and followed their recipe.
Two days in advance: culture the milk for the cream cheese
This only takes 30 minutes in the evening, but you need to watch the milk closely. You can leave the milk to culture for 12 to 18 hours – longer times give funkier, cheesier cheese, as you can imagine.
One day in advance: drain the cream cheese, pickle the cucumbers
About 30 minutes of work to get you set for breakfast the next day.
I used this recipe for the pickled cucumbers.
Draining the cheese takes longer than you might expect, 6-8 hours of letting the whey drip down under the weight of the suspended cheese. I wrapped the cheese in muslin and tied the ends around a wooden spoon, slung above a big pot, then left this set up on the counter for 6 hours.
When the cheese was ready, I used an immersion blender to whip it with a little sugar and salt to give it a smooth, sweet finish. Store the prepared cream cheese in the fridge and use within a week.
Sandwich day: Make the bagels, rinse the salmon, assemble and enjoy!
The bagels take 2-3 hours, including letting the dough rise for an hour and baking for 20 minutes, so this can be done the morning of. I used this recipe.
After making the bagels, rinse and thinly slice the salmon. Assemble with your cucumbers and cream cheese.