ultimate brunch - bagels
Sunday, 19 Feb 2017


This isn’t, strictly speaking, a recipe, but more suggestions to help you have a bagel brunch at home.

While bagels in London aren’t as ubiquitous as they are in some other cities, they aren’t that hard to find (in North & East London, anyway), but I can’t think of anywhere that really lends itself to a sit-down bagel brunch like this or this - and, anyway, a lovely bagel brunch spread merely has to be assembled.

I initially planned on baking bagels but
a) woke up late, and
b) realised that the Claudia Roden recipe I was going to use makes eleven bagels; I only need two, they don’t keep that well and, perhaps more pertinently, they seem kind of a faff to make.

Happily the yoga studio is also really near a bagel bakery. Last night I wrote that my yoga class was darker and more melancholy, coloured by the memory of my last visit when Catfriend was still alive but had just been to the vet for initial tests and I didn’t feel totally confident about getting back into my extracurricular activities, but today I had a more uplifting yoga experience. Maybe it was the time of day, or more upbeat music or something, but today had a more cheerful vibe and I look forward to my class tomorrow.

After class I ended up buying three bagels from The Happening Bagel Bakery: plain, sesame and poppy seed (total cost: £1.95). There’s other types like onion, rye, etc. I think the actual bagels themselves are good, but I’m not a fan of their filled bagels. The cream cheese bagel comes with a slab of cream cheese and the whole effect is cold and a little depressing, and the lox isn’t fabulous either. I recommend you take some bagels home and toast them, then they’re good. They have challah, it’s okay and usually fresh and warm (though you can make a better one at home and I prefer Grodzinski in Stamford Hill), but they’re open Friday nights and Saturdays if you suddenly find yourself in need of challah and everywhere else is closed.

I also like Bowery Bakery near Camden. They’re NY-style and you can sit down and eat in (which is rare for London). They do rainbow bagels and everything bagels and bags of mini bagels and pretty good fillings. I especially like that the blueberry cream cheese is not blueberry-flavoured, but actual blueberries and cream cheese. It’s a great idea that you can incorporate into your own bagel brunch.

Today I had no blueberries. Instead I had:

  • 100g Scottish smoked salmon from Argyll smokehouse (via Mimosa via Hubbub). Very thin, gently smoked, tasty.
  • garlic & herbs Philadelphia cream cheese
  • baby capers (Crespo brand, rinsed)
  • sprigs of dill
  • sliced radishes
  • sliced cucumbers
  • lemon wedges

Other things to consider:

  • green onions, chives or sliced red onions (I intended to do this but forgot)
  • pickles
  • hot smoked salmon/trout mixed with cream cheese
  • caviar/roe if you’re feeling fancy

Shyan got really really excited about the smoked salmon. Sorry, it’s not for cats!

I toasted my bagels in the oven at 150 deg C for 10 minutes. Halve them first and put them on a baking sheet with their insides facing up. All my bagel accompaniments went in their own little glass pots, if you haven’t got these you can arrange them in little sections on a large plate or serving platter, or even a wooden chopping board. I always wash and reuse reusable pots, like those little glass Gu pots and jam jars and encourage you to do the same. They’re great for sauces, dips and other accompaniments, as tealight holders, for your own desserts, for little succulents. I’m also fond of the blue terracotta pots the La Fermiere yogurts come in. I also find small jars with lids (eg. ones that originally held capers, or Steenbergs spice jars) useful for making salad dressing: you put in your ingredients, pop the lid on and shake violently.

A home bagel brunch is a wonderful and easy alternative to going out. No cooking’s involved and you can assemble all your favourite bagelly things. Other than the smoked salmon (and possibly caviar/roe, if that’s how you roll) everything else is relatively inexpensive, looks impressive and is deeply satisfying.