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weinoo

Bagel Birthday Brunch

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We're throwing a small birthday party brunch for my wife's dad's 80th birthday. By small, I literally mean no more than 15 people - all family.

I'm looking for some ideas to fill in the menu, which will center around all sorts of goodies from Russ & Daughters. I'm going to be serving:

Smoked salmon - 2 or 3 kinds, and maybe even some belly lox ('cause that's what Sig Eater really loves), or gravalax.

Pickled herring in cream sauce and plain pickled herring (hey, it's Russ & Daughters, remember?)

Whitefish Salad - it's Russ & Daughters, remember?

Maybe some smoked sable or sturgeon

Bagels, bialys, various cream cheeses, sliced tomato, olives

Pickles - because they're around the corner too.

As for what I'm actually producing:

Potato pancakes with creme fraiche, chives and salmon caviar

Frittata of herbs and parmesan

Fancy green salad

Cucumber salad - you know, the pickled kind

Fruit salad or just some nice sliced fruit - the strawberries from Florida and the blueberries from Chile I've been getting have actually been quite good.

Now the cake...I've toyed with the idea of actually baking the cake, and it would be chocolate layer cake. My pastry and baking teacher was Nick Malgieri, and when I was in school, I was a pretty good baker. But, that was a long time ago, and the experiments I tried this past weekend led me to believe that it would be best to order the cake, which I will. The annoying thing is that I've spent about as much on baking apparatus and supplies as the darn cake will cost me - but now I'll be able to fool around with cakes for regular dinners and just for fun.

I'll probably bake some cookies and was also toying with the idea of making some rugelach.

Of course, there will be freshly brewed coffee and espresso, for those annoying enough to ask for it. Plenty of juices, too.

So, what would you add?

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Some protein for people who don't like fish?

Also, you could invite me. That would make everything perfect in my view :) Seriously, it all sounds wonderful.

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Some protein for people who don't like fish?

Also, you could invite me. That would make everything perfect in my view :) Seriously, it all sounds wonderful.

Okay, I'll put out a bowl of nuts.

Seriously, there will be eggs. Even more seriously, everyone in my wife's family (and in my family, for that matter), likes this kind of fish. When you grow up eating it, what's not to like, bubelah?

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Seriously, there will be eggs. Even more seriously, everyone in my wife's family (and in my family, for that matter), likes this kind of fish. When you grow up eating it, what's not to like, bubelah?

I figured as much. But...I grew up eating fish in all sorts of permutations, too (in the Northwest with a Swedish father who was a fisherman, smoked his own catch) and, except for a just caught trout or salmon, I got to barely tolerate fish. Maybe there's a secret loather in the bunch! Probably not.

Chopped liver?

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Real pumpernickel.

Real Pumpernickel or Dark Marbled Rye.

You'd be surprised and it may seem counterintuitive, but those don't really go with a meal like this...to a group like this. A few pumpernickel bagels might be in the mix, but they will be left at the end. We secular Jewish New Yorkers eat sesame bagels, onion bagels, poppy seed bagels, plain bagels, everything (gasp) bagels and bialys (and I may throw a bulka and pletzel into the mix).

Now, if I was to make some tuna salad and or some egg salad, it would be a totally different story. Hmmm....

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I figured as much. But...I grew up eating fish in all sorts of permutations, too (in the Northwest with a Swedish father who was a fisherman, smoked his own catch) and, except for a just caught trout or salmon, I got to barely tolerate fish. Maybe there's a secret loather in the bunch! Probably not.

Chopped liver?

There will be no lutefisk :rolleyes: !

There are no loathers - I know all of them pretty well, and I've seen what they do to a platter from Zabar's.

Chopped liver at a brunch like this (appetizing) starts to breach a different realm (delicatessen), though they do sell it at Russ & Daughter's...hmmm...

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Real pumpernickel.

Real Pumpernickel or Dark Marbled Rye.

You'd be surprised and it may seem counterintuitive, but those don't really go with a meal like this...to a group like this. A few pumpernickel bagels might be in the mix, but they will be left at the end. We secular Jewish New Yorkers eat sesame bagels, onion bagels, poppy seed bagels, plain bagels, everything (gasp) bagels and bialys (and I may throw a bulka and pletzel into the mix).

Now, if I was to make some tuna salad and or some egg salad, it would be a totally different story. Hmmm....

The great joy of my childhood in Montreal was real dark pumpernickel, torn to pieces in a bowl with cottage cheese and sour cream, salt and pepper on top. My Poppa (what my Mother called her Father) ate that and so then did I. Needless to say, pickled herring was not one of my favorites. |

Can you still buy real pumpernickel in Montreal now? Is there out there a recipe for the real stuff? A small round loaf, with cornmeal on the bottom, very moist, very dark, almost sweet...my mouth is watering.

I'll eat a bagel as noted above in your post, but they are only pale commercial attempts and fall far short of a Montreal bagels...but then we've been there before.

Have a joyful party. You are a good son-in-law. :smile:

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Tomatoes and Red onion?

This is my Sunday brunch meal from top to bottom every Sunday. You're making me so jealous. I don't think you need to add anything. I vote for fruit salad though.

We usually had rugelach (surprisingly easy to make, you should totally do it) and assorted other cookies and Chocolate whipped cream cake with shaved chocolate on top (and vanilla genoise on the inside).

Have a wonderful party....what I would give for a piece of sturgeon.

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champagne for drinking toasts, and for making mimosas.

Sounds like a good nosh. Happy birthday to the Significant Eater.

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champagne for drinking toasts, and for making mimosas.

Sounds like a good nosh. Happy birthday to the Significant Eater.

Yep - mimosas are on the menu too - but these peeps aren't big drinkers and most of them will be driving in from Joisey.

Thanks for the b'day wishes, though it's Significant Eater's dad's birthday.

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The brunch sounds wonderful as is but if you would like to add something I would suggest chopped liver or a noodle kugel. And definitely get the belly lox for Sig Eater. (The belly lox from Russ & Daughters is a favorite of my spouse too.)

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maybe something sweet. Crumb cake, soft butter to slather on the sides

As for the actual cake, there's nothing wrong with a NY cheesecake for a birthday cake. Easy to make, too.

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Cukes and onion, dressed with vinegar and sour cream, along with onion slices.

Canned mushrooms soaked in italian dressing for a few days, with toothpicks. Trust.

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You know, he's turning 80. What about caviar? It would certainly mark the event as special. And they sell it at Russ and Daughters...

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Sounds just about too fantastic. In my experience if there's plenty of lox (yum, two kinds!) no one eats whitefish salad. Especially if there is an alternative smoked fish, like sable or even whitefish. I can't imagine eating chopped liver before 5pm, or with lox; we're talking really rich food, given you are planning potato pancakes and a frittata.

Now speaking personally, if presented with untoasted bagels and no toaster on the table, my anxiety level goes way up. Gotta provide a way to toast bagels without you having to run back and forth to the broiler. Okay, I'm a high maintenance guest; lox on a cold bagel makes me depressed. A savory noodle kugel might be nice, but no need for such with latkes. Mmm, don't forget some fresh lemony apple sauce for them. If potato pancakes suddenly seems like too much work, a kugel could fill in.

Yes to anything that adds a crisp unadorned vegetable or fruit. Sliced tomatoes, paper-thin red onions, capers. A citrus salad works really well--several different kinds of citrus, with a very light dressing of olive oil, citrus juice, teensy bit of salt, even pepper. On second thought, just make sure there's a pepper grinder on the table. Nothing beats a blood orange salad with a grind of pepper.

As for sweets, well, no one I know would ever turn down home made rugelach. Chocolate cake sounds good, if that's the birthday boy's favorite. Cheesecake after such a meal might seem like coals to Newcastle.

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I actually like ginger ale or even Cel-Ray with this meal (I know, the Cel-Ray is more appropriate with deli meats than "appy" store fare, but I like it). And although I'm a member of the tribe and not Scandahoovian, aquavit goes very well with smoked and cured fishes. And I do hope your herrings include matjes as well as with onions in cream sauce.

But the only item really missing from your menu are black olives -- the plump brined ones that used to be standard fare at "appy" stores.

And I couldn't put out a spread like yours without an extraordinary surplus of sodium, so be sure to pick up salt bagels, too.

And is there no halvah or Joyva jells to send off your mishbucha on their long trip back to the wilds of Bergen or Essex county?

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How about a nice babka or a sour cream coffee cake? Maybe a frittata?

I'd have to have a black and white because that screams " NY" Jewish deli brunch to me!!

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I'd like to say thanks for all the great ideas. Brunch was this past Saturday. Real plates, real flatware, cloth napkins, the whole nine yards.

The menu, as I planned it...

Frittata (home made)

Potato Pancakes (home made) topped w/Creme Fraiche and Caviar

Buttered Pumpernickel topped with Smoked Sturgeon

Belly Lox

Gaspe Nova

Whitefish Salad (Note to Katie Meadow: I don't know if you've ever had the whitefish salad from Russ & Daughters, but...)

3 kinds of cream cheese (home made chive/scallion, home made veggie/horseradish and plain)

Health salad (home made) - basically, Jewish cole slaw

Pickled herring and herring in cream sauce

Olives

Sliced tomatoes and red onion

Mimosas

Stumptown coffee

Rugelach (home made)

Cookies (home made)

Birthday cake from Blackhound Bakery

And then I woke up not feeling well on Saturday morning. So, I recruited some of the mispucha and the results can be seen here.

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