What’s better than a fresh bagel in the morning with your cup of coffee? I love bagels and I fell in love with an everything bagel with the works (cream cheese, salmon, tomato, red onions and capers) at Murray’s Bagel in New York City many years ago. It was an explosion of flavor and I was amazed how all these contrasting ingredients complemented each other so well. I’ve been recreating it at home ever since.
South Florida has plenty of authentic bagel shops and I have one around the corner. With a few store bought ingredients, putting together a bagel breakfast or brunch can be done in a snap. It’s important to have fresh bagels, the outcome isn’t the same with grocery store bagels, but if that’s all you have, I suggest you toast them in a 350°F oven until golden to bring them back to life (about 8 minutes).
I like to arrange everything on a big board so everyone can help themselves. Here’s what I like to serve:
Assorted Bagels – everything, plain, cinnamon raisin, Bialystok* (aka Bialy), honey wheat, poppy seed, salt, etc.
Any style of Smoked Salmon will work – wild, farmed, cured, etc. Lox (like gravlax) refers to salmon cured in a salt-sugar rub or brine. Nova is cured and then cold-smoked.
Smoked White Fish Dip – this isn’t your typical tuna fish salad. This is a white fish that has been smoked and is amazing! I love to eat it on a bagel, yes a bagel. If you’ve never tried it, I urge you to give it a go. Note: This smoked white fish dip is also great as a snack with saltines, celery sticks, carrot sticks and jalapeño slices.
Assorted Cream Cheese – plain whipped, honey, chives, etc. Your grocery should have a varied assortment. Make sure you have double of the plain whipped style.
Assorted Jellies and Jams – We always have a variety of jellies and jams – apricot, blueberry, strawberry, fig, etc. Some folks like a plain bagel with cream cheese and jelly.
Tomatoes – Juicy red, ripe tomato slices are heavenly on bread.
Red Onion – Half the onion and cut thin slices. A few pieces of onion go a long way.
Capers – Rinsed capers add a briny pop of flavor. I love capers with smoked salmon!
Scallions – For those that don’t love the sharp taste of the red onion, scallions are a great alternative.
Chives – Have a few chopped chives on hand. They add great flavor and texture.
If preparing a bagel station for a brunch, you can always offer your guests additional items to place on the bagel such as scrambled eggs, bacon, assorted cheeses, etc.
* Bialy a Yiddish word short for bialystoker kuchen from the city of Bialystok, Poland. This is a traditional roll in Polish Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine and brought over in the 1800s. It has become a staple in northeastern Jewish bakeries. Unlike bagels, bialys are not boiled first, they are just baked.
Whether you’re making a bagel breakfast for one or for a crowd, remember the freshest bagels and ingredients produce the best meal. Keep it simple and enjoy with a great cup of coffee. This is a no cook idea any chef can get behind.