Sunday, January 2, 2011

What, no Bagels (bagely)??

For New Year's Day we had thought of having bagels and cream cheese...along with the traditional Lentil Stew (coming in a future post).  So we bought some Norwegian organic smoked lox, cream cheese (smetana), found some pickled herring and thought of bagels or bagely as the foundation.  This was a slight problem. We have never seen any bagels for sale anywhere....not here, not in Prague...nowhere!  We're not such exactly why this is.  Hard rolls just didn't seem to have the same flair and delight of a New York deli bagel, so what to do except make them ourselves!

The story has a few funny twists, the first being that on New Year's Day we were out of eggs. So we jumped in the Skoda and headed to the nearest store, Norma, only to find it closed. Not to worry, down the street is Penny Market and then Alberts. Surely one of those would be open.  No!  So one we went to Tesco, Globus, Kaufland, Lidl, and numerous downtown shops.  Again, closed! On the way back Mark had the inspiration to stop at some of the gas stations....perhaps Agip or Robin Oil sold eggs (after all, our local holiday store in St. Paul sells eggs and milk!).  Again, no....!  We couldn't believe it....everything was either closed or replete of eggs.  What to do? You can't have crispy crusts on your bagels without an egg wash.  Hmmm.

Well, not to be undaunted we started making bagels (it's been a few years since doing this but we're doing it all from memory!), but the dough was quickly rising away while we pondered what to do for an egg wash.  The key for a good outer crust starts with the last cut-out dough rising uncovered in a warm place. This makes a hard 'skin' on the outside.
 Off they go to boil quickly, now that they've 'risen to the occasion. Boil only briefly (1-2 minutes) and DO NOT turn them over.....they'll become gooey and sticky instead!
By this time we had pondered options to replace the egg wash. At first we thought of brushing on Vajeci eggnog (early postings) but that would add unnecessary sugar on the outside. Then, inspiration!  Why not use mayonnaise?! It's full of egg whites plus olive oil....what's not to like about that combination?! So, that's what we did.  A perfect solution!
(Note to self for later bagel-making:  why not try brushing on some flavored aoli?)

Put the boiled bagels onto an oiled pan for baking (200C for 5-10 minutes) until golden brown. If you like, cover them with dried, shaved garlic, salt, or crushed Thyme.  When they're out of the oven...time to indulge!
You can, of course, be creative with shapes as well, as this Oriental message relates. It must translate into 'Happy New Year'.
Now, time for the lox and fresh slivered onions
 the pickled herring (which we discovered wasn't at all like the types we get in Minnesota or in the Netherlands). This type is with onions but salted instead of in a wine and mustard seed brine:
 Smother some cream cheese (Smetana from our local Czech dairy, Madeta) on, add some lox and onions, a bit of cracked pepper or even capers and enjoy!
 Add on a fresh salad for complementation and palate cleansing...
 Mark seems to think they're a good sign for the New Year!
 Neil votes affirmatively as well (it was warm in the kitchen by then, from the hot oven, and Neil's cheeks seem to be oh so rosy...!).
The Happiest of New Years to everyone!
šťastný nový rok!

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

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