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A Four Generation Lox Legacy

A Four Generation Lox Legacy


Recipe Roots: New York City > Scottsdale, AZ > Manhattan
Shared by Emily Miller

When Emily Miller and her sister slept over at their grandparents’ home in Scottsdale, Arizona, grandpa Shelly would call out from the kitchen in the morning in a thick New York accent: “You want eggs?” To make sure the clarion call was heard, he would peek around the kitchen corner to ensure the girls were up and the question was answered.

In the Miller family, “eggs” always means lox, eggs, and onions, sometimes referred to as a LEO on a diner menu. “It’s never regular eggs,” Emily explains. It’s the same question grandpa Shelly asked Emily’s father when he was growing up.

Lox, eggs, and onions, topped with a slice of American cheese is the star dish in the family’s regular Sunday brunch spreads. When Shelly, who passed away five years ago, was in charge of brunch, there were bagels, cream cheese, butter, white fish salad stuffed into a whole white fish skin, slices of cheese, and buttered and pan-fried fish fins and heads. Plus, berries and healthier options that Emily’s mother always brought along with her.

Today, Emily’s father Greg carries on with the egg tradition in Arizona as does Emily in New York City. “I live with my sister now and we make it together,” she says. The egg pan is always loaded with cheese, though Emily isn’t sure where that addition came from — it’s her family’s own take on the classic LEO.

In the Miller family, “breakfast is sacred,” Emily explains in the opening of her new cookbook Breakfast: The Cookbook, which shares nearly 400 morning recipes from 80 countries, including several with Jewish roots such as fried matzo and an Israeli breakfast spread. She’s also the founder of the BreakfastClub, a pop-up dining series.

Shelly and Carol Miller, Manhattan, 1954.

Shelly and Carol Miller, Manhattan, 1954.

As she started to work on this book, Emily learned that lox (and breakfast) has always been in her blood. One day, as they were talking, “My dad was like: ‘I still have some knives from grandpa Shelly’s appetizing store.’ And I was like: ‘What are you talking about? … ‘Why are you telling me this now? I’ve based my whole career off breakfast!”

Her father revealed that grandpa Shelly and his father owned an appetizing shop in the Bronx that specialized in smoked fish, bagels, cream cheese and other morning staples of the Ashkenazi and American Jewish culinary canon.

Today, as she and her sister make their family eggs on the Upper East Side, only a few miles south of the Bronx where Miller’s Appetizing once sat, Emily says: “It’s truly come full circle.”

Photos by Penny De Los Santos

Photos by Penny De Los Santos

Grandpa Shelly's Lox, Eggs, and Onions

Serves: 2
Time: 45 minutes

1 tablespoon butter, plus more if needed
1 small onion, chopped
4 slices Nova lox, cut into small pieces
4 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 slices American cheese
2 bagels, toasted
½ tablespoon butter, for serving
1 tablespoon cream cheese, for serving

1. In a frying pan, melt the butter over low heat, swirling around the pan to evenly coat. Add the onion and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until caramelized, about 20 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs together with a fork. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Distribute the cut pieces of lox evenly in the pan. Pour in the egg and allow it to set for a few seconds. With a wooden spoon, pull the edges of the eggs in toward the center of the pan until the eggs begin to curd, about 30 seconds. Continue to stir until the eggs have just set, but still have a glossy finish about 1 minute. Blanket the eggs with slices of American cheese and cover the pan until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute. Serve with a toasted bagel spread with butter or cream cheese.

Recipe adapted from BREAKFAST: The Cookbook by Emily Elyse Miller (Phaidon 2019)

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