Christmas at IHOP

True story:  Late Christmas morning, we left the Marriott hotel in Palm Beach Gardens and looked for somewhere to have breakfast before going to our cousins for an afternoon swim.  For over an hour we passed closed cafes, drive-ins, drive-throughs, dives and diners -- even Denny's disappointed.  Dashed were our dreams of fluffy pancakes, hot chocolate, french pastries, and endless cups of strong coffee.  At this point, even a bagel with a smear would do.  Quite unlike New York, where many restaurants rock on Christmas Day, in south Florida, people are where they should be:  At home, eating fluffy pancakes, hot chocolate, french pastry and coffee.  A voice from the back seat of our rented car stopped us short.  "IHOP," it said.  "IHOP?" we chortled.  "Yes," said the earnest voice.  Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez were there not long ago.  In Florida.  They had pancakes."  Our daughter programmed our rented GPS and in no more than ten minutes we were in front of an IHOP.  It was OPEN. I tell you this story to let you know that a new dish was born on Christmas Day.  Now, past lunchtime, I noticed a weathered man next to me eating what looked like fish.  A lot of it.  Broccoli and roasted potatoes, too.   The nice waitress told us it was tilapia.  Something made me try it.  But I wanted it with scrambled eggs instead (no broccoli or potato chunks) and shredded hash browns.  Yes, I would even try the Hollandaise that came with the fish. My husband and daughter ordered fluffy pancakes (eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, too) but it took awhile to get our food.  My tilapia was being cooked-to-order. And there it was!  Perfectly moist and flaky, subtly seasoned with a bit of Cajun magic, crisp around the edges and golden brown. And there was a lot of it. Soft-scrambled eggs and lovely hash browns.  Even the Hollandaise was credible, made more so with a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Truly, it was terrific.  My husband, the globe-trotting restaurant consultant, always said that the best way to cook fish was on a griddle.

There you have it.  The Gold Special:  Griddled golden tilapia with lemony Hollandaise, soft-scrambled eggs, and shredded hash browns.  $9.99.  And endless cups of good, strong coffee.   Hope your Christmas was special, too.

Another Gold special:  A recipe for Scrambled Eggs with Leeks & Sable from Radically Simple.

Scrambled Eggs with Leeks & Sable A more distinctive version of the classic lox, eggs, and onions, these eggs rest on slices of sable, gently warming them.  Sable, or smoked black cod, is available in upscale food stores.

8 thin slices smoked sable 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 10 extra-large eggs

Overlap 2 slices of sable in the centers of four very large plates.  Wash the leeks; dry well.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a very large frying pan.  Add the leeks; cook, stirring, until soft and golden, 10 minutes.  Beat the eggs well with an electric mixer on whisk, adding salt and pepper.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the pan with the leeks; add the eggs and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until just set, 2 minutes.  Spoon the eggs atop the sable. Serves 4