Doctoring The Bagel

Writing this post on a hot Tuesday afternoon feels wrong: this is definitely a Sunday morning post. It’s what we did this past Sunday morning and what you should do this upcoming Sunday morning. So file this one away for the weekend, okay?

Here’s what we’re talking about: how to turn a bagel that you don’t make yourself (though you certainly can) into something special. You’ll need: two bagels and two packets of cream cheese. Then take a trip to the farmer’s market and come back with…

…smoked trout (assuming your farmer’s market sells that, mine does!), a tomato, really good lettuce, and lots of fresh herbs.

Now there are two types of herbs out there: those that do well in water, and those that do well in oil. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but Sara Moulton taught it to me when I cooked with her for my cookbook, and it kind of makes sense: if you were heating olive oil on the stove and you wanted to infuse it with herby flavor, you wouldn’t throw in parsley or tarragon or chives… they’d just sizzle and fry. But you could throw in rosemary, thyme, oregano: those would infuse the oil. Hence the oil / water distinction. (The water-friendly herbs would blend up easily in water.)

For today’s bagel journey, we’re using water-based herbs or grassier herbs: chives, tarragon, dill, and parsley. Put them on your cutting board and chop like crazy! (You should probably stem the parsley and tarragon and dill first.) Once you’ve chopped like a madman, add the herbs to a Kitchenaid mixer (fitted with the paddle) that’s been pre-loaded with two packets of cream cheese.

Other things you could throw in at this point: a chopped shallot, lemon zest, a splash of really good olive oil, lemon juice. Me? I just stuck with the herbs, salt, and pepper and whipped it on high.

That’s the most amount of work involved in this “recipe.”

Now, just toast your bagel (unless it’s warm out of the oven, in which case, toasting isn’t necessary).

While it’s toasting, toss your farmer’s market lettuces with your best olive oil, vinegar (I use Katz’s), Maldon sea salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Now schmear one side of your bagel (isn’t “schmear” a great word?) with lots of the herbed cream cheese and top with some of the smoked trout. Schmear the other side with more of the herbed cream cheese and top with a slice of the tomato.

Put one half on top of the other, place the salad on the side, and there you are: a dreamy, doctored bagel sandwich for your Sunday.

Maybe not unrelated, but after eating this, I solved the Sunday Times crossword in pen.

Coincidence? I think not.