Who doesn’t love a good schmear on their bagel? Or maybe a better question would be– what kind of schmear (a.k.a. cream cheese spread) is the ultimate for your bagel? With Easter brunch menu-planning in the works for everyone over the next few weeks, thought I’d share my favorite toppings, as well as offer you my Caper, Shallot and Lemon Schmear. It’s the simplest, easiest and *tastiest* of bagel spreads you can serve up at your next brunch or holiday breakfast gathering. It’s so good…it’s sure to be a hole in one (so bad, I know).
I have to confess something first: I’m really picky about what I put on my bagels, as well as the order in which it all gets piled on. I know, I know, most people are more concerned with the actual quality or baking method of the bagel itself (you smart folks you!), but me–meh, not so much. My only requirement is that it’s a super thin bagel, like this one here, or if I can’t get my hands on one of those, I’ll take a regular size bagel and cut it into thirds. I’d rather put more of the filling in my mouth than the bread-y part. Ok, so there’s one more requisite in that it’s got to be an “everything” bagel– or at least an onion or poppy seed–c’mon, it’s got to have some kind of flavor to it. And I’m going to toast it anyway, so as long as it doesn’t taste like cardboard, I’m pretty much set.
Bagels with this pastrami-style smoked salmon are one of my most favorite breakfast foods, heck make that a favorite lunch, dinner or any-time snack too! But, my biggest pet peeve if ordering ‘Bagels and Lox’ in restaurants is 1) they give me a huge bagel with very little spread, so already there’s too much of a bread-thing going on 2) they overdo the veggies and skimp on the main attraction 3) all the condiments like the capers, onions, etc are so precariously perched on top, that the minute I go to bite into it, everything comes tumbling down into a heap. Not good my friends, not good at all.
So my remedy for this dilemma is to get all the traditional condiments inside the spread- yep, move’m out of the way from the get-go, so that I can enjoy the salmon part without fear of a landslide happening. Plus, there’s a much better distribution of ingredients that way. I can add whatever I like to get just the right amount of tang (capers), a hint of sharpness (shallots) and the lemon zest adds a nice sweetness too oddly enough. So down goes the spread first, followed by the salmon and then I finish it off with a bit more lemon zest for some color and added flavor. And that’s it. I keep it pretty darn simple (other than my neurotic bagel fetish above- ha!), but you get the idea.
Caper, Shallot and Lemon Schmear
yields 1 cup | Caper, Shallot and Lemon Schmear PDF
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 silver pouch)
3 tablespoons capers with liquid, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 large shallot, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Stir to incorporate. For maximum flavor, chill 1-2 hours (or overnight) before serving to allow all the ingredients to infuse into the cream cheese. Serve on a toasted bagel with pastrami-style smoked salmon or lox….or even fresh veggies for a vegetarian alternative.