How NYC Legend Eli Zabar Inspired Ina Garten's Smoked Salmon Waffles

smoked salmon waffles
smoked salmon waffles - Sunvic/Shutterstock

Ina Garten may reside in the Hamptons, but when it comes to her morning meal, she doesn't steer away from lox, a New York City staple. However, when she eats lox, she doesn't always do so on the traditional bagel. Instead, she sometimes gives this dish a sweet twist she learned from the unofficial Smoked Fish King of New York City, Eli Zabar.

In Garten's cookbook, "Cook Like a Pro," she shares her recipe for Belgian Waffles & Smoked Salmon, and like many legendary beginnings, it started with a party. "I had a breakfast party and made a buffet with waffles, bagels, smoked salmon, and lots of other things," Garten regales. "My friend Eli Zabar decided to put crème fraîche and smoked salmon on the waffles instead of the bagels. Everyone started making them!"

As any NYC-based foodie would tell you, lox is an NYC gastronomic institution as much as pastrami, bagels, dirty water dogs, or the famous utility slice -- and you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody who knows more about the NYC food scene than the Zabars. The family's West Side food store, which has been in business since in 1934, is brimming with smells of bread, including its toasted bagels, and offers a lineup of smoked fish for the picture-perfect brunch.

Read more: Where To Find The 20 Best Breakfast Sandwiches In America

A Totally Decadent Spin On A NYC Classic

deli counter at Zabar's in NYC
deli counter at Zabar's in NYC - Nielskliim/Shutterstock

Why does it work? It's all about the sweet-savory trip around the palette. As Garten puts it, "There's something about the warm waffles, salty salmon, and rich crème fraîche that's totally decadent." Tangy crème fraîche is the key to marrying your sweet waffles with your smoky salmon, but it can be tough to track down in grocery stores. Luckily, it's easy to whip up a homemade batch with buttermilk, heavy cream, and citric acid. Just be sure to allow extra time before making a batch for your own Barefoot Contessa-inspired breakfast party (crème fraîche takes 36 hours to fully set up).

It's no wonder that Garten was inspired by Zabar, whose own E.A.T. gourmet cafe (where you can, of course, order lox) opened in 1973. Still, as the Barefoot Contessa herself promises, "You don't have to be a pro to cook like one," and these smoked salmon waffles are a tasty example of impressive meets achievable. Smoked salmon can be purchased pre-made and ready to enjoy, which hugely cuts down on prep time. This recipe would work great with buttermilk or cornmeal waffles, but for even quicker assembly, a box of Homestyle Eggos would work fine, too.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.