Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thinking Outside the Bread Box - The Bagel

Fresh from my inaugural visit to the New York Bagel Café, I am inspired by bagels and their sandwich-making possibilities!
Toasted, untoasted, with cream cheese, jelly, butter or bare, open or closed faced - what I love about bagels is how limitless they are!

Check out any bagel shelf of any bakery and chances are you won’t see just one kind of bagel - there’s whole wheat, sesame, cinnamon-raisin, pumpernickel, poppy-seed, onion...full-sized or mini...assorted. It’s so hard to choose just one kind!

Exquisite Hendrickson Bagels!
Thankfully, the Everything bagel takes care of that. 

With a crispy topping of poppy-seeds, chunks of garlic and onions, it really does have a bit of everything, just like the name suggests. It’s great with plain butter or cream cheese alone, or piled high with meat, cheese, veggies or all of the above. It is definitely my go-to bagel but for this bagel-sandwich to be truly blog-worthy, it couldn’t be just any Everything bagel…

It had to be a Hendrickson Bagel, known more generally as an Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market Bagel!

I love the Farmer’s Market bagels! You may have to fight your way through the packed Saturday-morning crowds to get their stall, but once you do, they are so worth it! They are fresh from Sherwood Park, contain no artificial additives and no nuts! So stock up on these beauties, my fellow nut-allergy people!  Eat them with total peace of mind!

The Hendrickson version of the Everything Bagel is simply titled ‘Onion, Garlic, Sesame, Poppy’ and they have big hunks of all these great things on their golden tops. They smell so good and are soft and chewy, even when toasted. Eat them within three days of buying, or pre-slice and freeze them to extend their shelf life.  And don’t forget to grab an exciting flavor of fresh cream cheese while you’re there!

From the six bagels I bought, two had the honour of becoming beautiful sandwiches of different varieties: two open-faced, one closed.  All three are delicious bagel options I am proud to recommend to you!

2 Bagels, 3 Different Bagel-Sandwiches needs:

-2 Bagels
-Spicy pastrami
-Smoked prosciutto
-Strong Cheddar
-Hot Banana Peppers
-Cream cheese: spinach and feta from Hendrickson’s and the plain Philadelphia kind
-Carrots, shredded
-Red Pepper, sliced
-Red Pepper and Garlic Jelly (mine was homemade by my mother-in-law! Check out the jams and jellies at Anneliese’s Crafts at the Farmer’s Market for something similar.)
-Fresh-ground Pepper and Sea Salt

Toasted bagel, two meats and two cheeses goodness!
#1 -Toasted Pastrami, Prosciutto, Cheddar and Provolone

1-Slice a bagel and spread one half with mustard and mayo

2-Pile on the spicy pastrami, provolone, prosciutto and cheddar

3-Toast both halves in the toaster oven on medium, until cheese is melted and the other bagel half is golden brown

4-Add some hot banana peppers, combine the bagel halves, cut and enjoy!

This is a very nice combination of spicy, smokey and salty meat with the sharp provolone and strong cheddar. The peppers add some heat to a pleasantly warm and gooey blend of meat and cheese.  

#2 and #3 - Open-Faced Veggie and Meat Bagels:


1-Toast the bagel
2-Spread one half with a thick layer of spinach and feta cream cheese
3-Top with shredded carrot and slices of red pepper
4-Sprinkle some fresh ground pepper and sea salt on top


1-Spread one half with plain cream cheese
2-Top with red pepper and garlic jelly
3-Fold a piece of prosciutto and place on the cream cheese and jelly spread

The cream cheese has big pieces of spinach, which adds a different texture to this bagel.  The spinach and feta is a bold flavor combo that’s balanced out by the crisp veggies. The pepper and salt on top add a nice tang to the vegetables as well.  A thick slice of beefsteak tomato would also do nicely instead of, or in addition to, the red pepper. 
Can't go wrong with half veggie, half meat!

On the meat half, the jelly is both sweet and spicy and works well with the smoky prosciutto. The cream cheese and jelly melt well together on the toasted bagel half, so it’s a bit of a gooey, and chewy but tasty mess. 

So for your next sandwich, bypass the standard bread and go for something a bit different instead. These three bagel sandwiches show that with some creativity in mixing and combining your ingredients, you can have your bagel and eat it too!

Some extra Bagel facts to snack on:

-The bagel’s holey design suggests a desire to make this kind of food easily transportable as “it's possible to thread such a roll on a stick or a string” and take it to-go. (A Short History of The Bagel, www.slate.com)

-Bagels are boiled and then baked, a process which helps them to last longer because their exteriors become harder than other breads. (A Short History of The Bagel, www.slate.com)

-Bagels are delicious but slicing them can also cause severe injuries if you’re not careful!  Apparently, “1,979 people [went to emergency rooms] with BRI (bagel related injuries)…in 2008”!  (Newman, Barry. To Keep the Finger Out of Finger Food, Inventors Seek a Better Bagel Cutter, The Wall Street Journal, December 2009)

-If you enjoy kitchen gadgets, you may want to invest in a bagel slicer to minimize your risk of BRI. But if slicing a bagel without one really makes you feel alive, at least be smart about it and don’t hold it in your hand while you cut!  Place it on a flat surface, hold it down with one hand and carefully slice through the bagel horizontally. (http://homecooking.about.com/)

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