So, this week I had a hankering for bagels. This is not unusual – especially as blueberry bagels can be found in the UK again. Praise be the bagel gods! Personally, I believe that there’s no such thing as a bad bagel topping; these beauties will work with whatever you throw at them. But there are a few combinations that I LOVE. I’m going to limit myself to four of my favourites today, otherwise I could ramble on forever. And, word to the wise, I go for toasted bagels every time. Anyhoo, without further ado, here are four of my beloved bagels: sweet, savoury, hangover-alleviating, and Monday-morning-easing bagels of brilliance!
Hangover Alleviating Bagel: Wholemeal bagel with cream cheese and sun dried tomatoes.
This is an epic hangover breakfast; trust me, I’ve done the legwork on this one. It’s also best served with a strong cup of coffee made with one’s trusty Bialetti. I’d give you the rundown on how to make it, but it’s literally a healthy shmear of cream cheese, topped with whole sundried tomatoes and a pinch of pepper, for good measure. It’s simple because when one is hungover, doing anything that requires effort is not possible.
If, however, you’re sober and functioning at a normal human capacity when you make this, you could give it a bit of extra oomph: finely chop the sundried toms, adding a tiny amount of finely diced garlic (about a third or a half a clove, depending on its size), some chopped basil leaves, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of pepper, and stir it all into the cream cheese. Then spread it over your hot and toasty bagel for epic tastiness. If you happen to make more than your bagel allows (a shocking thought, I know), just pop in a clean jam jar or tupperware bowl, stash in the fridge and – if you happen to have a few too many drinks that night – your hangover breakfast will be ready and waiting for you the next morning. You’re welcome.
Monday-Morning-Easing Bagel: Dilly mackerel bagel with paper-thin radishes.
This is also a great budget recipe, and makes a filling lunch. Take one can of mackerel, drain, and add to it the juice of half a lemon, a healthy pinch of freshly ground pepper, a teaspoon of mayonnaise and a hearty dollop of dill sauce. If you don’t have dill sauce in your store cupboard, never fear: freshly chopped dill will work just as well. I like to have mine with extra dill – chopped and sauce – dolloped on top and a couple of finely sliced radishes for extra fresh, peppery crunch.
Savoury Bagel, the Lunch of Champions: Onion bagel with pastrami, dijon, cheddar and cornichons. Best with a (diet) coke.
This is one I’ve grown up with (thanks, Mum!) and, man, is it tasty. In fact, it’s probably one of my mum’s and my all-time favourite ways to have a bagel. Reminiscent of a NY bagel, with a UK twist (good old cheddar), this one goes great with Dijon or wholegrain mustard, but feel free to experiment – a person’s choice of mustard is a personal one, after all. Layer it all up (I like to go bagel – mustard, maybe a bit of mayo – cheddar – pastrami, and then little cornichons on the side for nibbling) and dig in. Salt beef also works a treat here – feel free to add sauerkraut, too, if that floats your bagel boat.
Sweet Memories Bagel: Blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese.
I used to have these when I visited my American godparents in the good old days of being little and parents paying for airfare: my dad and I would swoon for a toasted blueberry bagel and strawberry cream cheese. And though strawberry cream cheese isn’t something you see every day on this side of the Atlantic, it is happily something that can be easily rectified. Just whizz everything (strawberries, icing sugar, cream cheese) in a food processor*, and there you have it. Although the mixture will be slightly looser than the store bought variety because of the juice from the berries, it definitely packs an epic flavour punch when strawberries are in season.
*Don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor/can’t be bothered to use it because of the washing up it will later entail: just mash the ripe strawberries with your fork, add the sugar to taste (you won’t need too much if the strawberries are ripe and juicy) and vigorously beat the cream cheese in.
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