Onion bagel comes into its own

Halloumi and spinach on an onion bagel with a drizzle of olive oil and finely chopped green chilli

We tend to get stuck with bagel fillings in the traditional many revolving around cream cheese – on its own, or with smoked salmon if you eat fish, and either with dill pickle. These are great but it is good to find something else to try from time to time

Here is a great mix for an onion bagel:

  • Fry up some halloumi (do this quite slowly so that it does not burn but just browns and retains some moisture)
  • Cut your bagel in half and place some raw baby spinach leaves  on the bottom  half of the bagel. (If you prefer, you can steam the spinach first)
  • Drizzle a little olive oil on top of the spinach and sprinkle some finely chopped green chili.
  • Halloumi is quite salty already so salt can be left out if you like and the chilli means black pepper is also not needed. Even so,  add both to make it as you like
  • Place the halloumi on top
  • Eat! Eat! Eat!

Halloween Bagel

The clocks are back and orange colours dominate the sunset, and the forecourts of most supermarkets, big and small as pumpkins and squash abound.

With so many scary and confusing things going on in the world (Israeli killing protesters in Gaza yet again, fanatical right wing shooting of Jews in Pittsburgh, 1 million Muslims detained in camps Northern China) it seems a bit odd to create make belief scariness, but there will be some method in it i am sure.

Red Kuri Squash

Scary or not,  i had a bit of fun making this  Halloween Bagel. The serious ‘foody’ thing is the colours and flavours just blend really well.

Take a small squash, I used a red kuri as pictured but you could also use a small pumpkin, wrap in silver foil and bake on a medium oven for about an hour or until soft.  The aim is to be able to have it cooked but not have the flesh fall apart. (Test by using a baked potato skewer and seeing if it easily goes through the flesh: you want a bit of resistance not an easy slide)

As it nears being cooked slice some halloumi (quite thick) and place on a gentle heat in a fry pan. Turn every so often so it cooks both sides. Don’t be tempted to speed up the cooking as it takes away from the succulence of the cheese.

Take a plain bagel – or any other bagel from the Tower of Bagel range, or one you made at Bagel School – and slice in half.

Take the squash from the oven when ready and slice off the lid and allow to cool so it is easier to handle.  When you can handle the heat scoop out the seeds carefully. (Don’t forget the halloumi! – I only say that because i have and it is so disappointing).

Now with the squash on sitting on its bottom, slice chunks downwards.  Place a bed of rocket on the bottom of the bagel and then place some slices of squash (or pumpkin). Place the halloumi when ready to the sides of these, almost like the act as a barrier to the squash leaking out (hence the thick slices).

Chop a chili pepper of your choice finely and sprinkle to taste with a bit of salt.  Take two more  – red with stalks are best, something like the Dagger Pod maybe – and see if you can insert them by the stalk in to the flesh of the squash.

Get some curved ones and they can be like claws.

Now spread some harissa on the side. And there you have it. Halloween Bagel!


  • 1 bagel of choice
  • 1 squash or small pumpkin
  • 1 chilli of choice
  • 2 chillis like Dagger Pod
  • Two thick slices of Halloumi
  • Salt and pepper to taste



Vegan ‘Tuna’ mayo filled bagel

‘tuna mayo’ bagel with all the trimmings

I was looking for something slightly different – and vegan.

Something that loaded up a bagel into a filling-dripping meal: lots of protein, a textured mix with a shift in flavours as you make your way through the bagel.

I chose to do this on a plain bagel but a seeded onion is also good for this:

  • Take  half a can of cannelini beans and mash with a spoonful of humus
  • Open up the bagel and place rocket (or your favourite leaf on either side).  Get a bit of salt and pepper on for taste at this point.
  • Now spoon up  the bean and humus mix on one side, topping with red onion and a spoon of Heart Veganaise.
  • On the other side, slice some avocado and tomato, add a sprinkle of fresh chili if you like that sort of thing
  • Bring the two sides together (but don’t squash it!)
  • Please use a napkin!
Onion seeded and beetroot bagels ready for delivery

This will be the vegan option at the November Bagel School, so to test the filling and have a fun day learning to make bagels like this, book now.



Don’t scramble your life, just your tofu – on a beetroot bagel

A friend recently said that  they had ‘gone  vegan’ .

 A friend recently said that they had ‘gone vegan’ .

This is an odd phrase; it implies a lifestyle transformation rather than just a conscious decision to alter diet. We don’t weigh down other diet changes with the same baggage – such as not eating cheese or high fat products.

It is a hard choice in spite of the current supermarket trends, probably because so much of our lives are peppered with meat products and animal derivatives. And it can be more expensive.

But it need not be a life scrambler.

So when my friend, a loyal and valued beetroot bagel lover, bemoaned a lack of replacement for scrambled eggs on beetroot bagel, i came up with this vegan alternative.

1 medium onion finely chopped – i used white but red would also work well
150g Clearspring Silken tofu mashed (if you are in Sheffield, from Beanies Zeds or Nutshell)
1/2 green chilli finely chopped
Dash of soya sauce
Black pepper to taste
Steam some spinach – optional
Some sport on telly

If you are having spinach or spring greens from your Regather veg box (or your garden) with it, wash and prepare them for steaming.

Halve the beetroot bagel

Soften the onion on a low heat in some olive oil

Meanwhile finely chop about half a green chilli (i don’t have this very hot, just enough to let you know it is there; so i use about half a chilli, but your taste buds are different so use what you think is best for you.)

When the onion is translucent, add the chilli and leave on a low heat for about another five minuets stirring occasionally.
Mash the Tofu and add

Turn up the heat slightly, add soya sauce and black pepper and stir.

If you are steaming greens, put on a pan of water. If you do not have a steamer just a covering on the bottom of the pan is fine. Bring to the boil. Add greens, cover.

Stir the tofu – there is a bit of liquid with the silken tofu that can be boiled off but not so it becomes dry.

When the greens are slightly shriveled, all is done.

Plate up, find some great sport on telly , enjoy.

Autumn chili keeps us warmer

Autumn is coming and this is an easy cheap and nutritious warming dish that can last for a few meals. With a couple of mini bagels and some cream cheese or vegan yoghurt it is perfect autumn filler.
Just a quick word about lentils: yellow brown green red and there is even puy. All have their proponents and detractors.
I like using red or yellow lentils when i need something where the the lentil has broken up. Yellow lentils seem more substantial and can make a more filling daal.
Brown lentils and green seem to have a more robust structure so do not disintegrate so easily. Puy lentils are famously flavourful keep their shape but are expensive. I have used brown lentils for this – their size and colour keeping the red kidney bean good company. If you cannot get brown lentils, don’t worry, use green lentils.
This makes enough for about 20 and is better after a day. If you don’t need it all, place in the freezer or take round to the Food Hall project or something similar where you happen to be.
4 cans kidney beans drained
500g brown lentils soaked in water overnight
4 can chopped tomatos
2 medium size onions
2 carrots
2 courgettes
3 teaspoons garlic paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder or to your taste
Salt to your taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon of malt extract or black treacle (optional)
Place the brown lentils in water to just cover them and bring to boil.
Turn down heat to a simmer. Add water every so often to recover the lentils and ensure it does not boil off. You want them to be just soft and not to disintegrate. About 30-45 mins .
When the lentils are done, drain the excess water into a bowl and save it. There won’t be much but it is flavourful. When drained add a bit of vegan bouillon to this water and stir.
Chop the onions and carrot and courgette. Make the pieces quite small if you can.
Heat oil in a large pan. When the oil starts to ‘swim’ add the onions and turn heat to low
After about a minute add garlic paste and other spices and seasoning
Stir regularly while onions soften (about 15 minutes)
Add the chopped carrots to the heated pan and stir then cover
After 5 minutes add the courgettes. Stir and cover and leave for 5 minutes more.
You have probably cooked and drained the lentils by now. If not give them a check and when they are ready , drain them. Don’t forget to keep the water.
Add the drained kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste  and lentils.
Stir and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat as soon as it boils and add the lentil water. Finally, if you have it around, add the tablespoon of malt extract or black treacle to give a hint of sweetness
Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Dish out with mini bagels and a dollop of cream cheese.
Or leave to cool then place in a fridge for a day before eating.
Music while you cook
If you need to bounce up and down while cooking try some great women of punk. Here is the brilliant X-Ray  and then why not try the equally wonderful Siouxie and the Banshees

Another plain bagel recipe

Last year i published a plain bagel recipe.

Since then i have started using diastatic malt powder rather than malt syrup in the mix – actually because it is  easier.

And i do a second prooving in a retarder for between 14 and 18 hours.

This is not a traditional thing but it does develop the flavour and the gluten, in my view and is a legitimate development of the basic bagel recipe. (Use of steam ovens is not however)

So here is another bagel recipe.



518g high gluten organic flour 

6g salt 

25g sugar 

5g instant yeast  

260g water at room temperature (50g boiled and hot, 210g cold)

Up to 50g of ‘room temp reserve water’

17g malt syrup (optional)

Flavoured varieties

If you want to add flavour – onion for example – use about 5% of the flour weight of dried ingredient. Be careful if using ground black pepper where 1.5 to 2 % is probably ok!


Boil some water and measure out  50g (50ml) into a container. Add the malt syrup to the boiled water. When stired in, add this to the rest of the cold water (210g). (This helps with mixing the syrup which can be a real pain to get off the spoon). Set the container aside

Mix the dry ingredients well and then add the prepared water and stir in with wooden spoon.  

Now use hands to combine the water and the dry mix. More of the dry ingredients will bind than you think. It is a dry mix but do not make it too dry.   

Add reserve water a few drips at a time . How much you need depends on the heat and humidity of the room and the properties of the flour.  

Home made prooving cupboard: a broken fridge, a ceramic heater and a thermostat

Kneed well (about 10mins by hand) You want to really develop the gluten.  When the dough holds together and springs back when pushed in with a finger it is ready

Place in a covered container; set aside to prove for an hour in a warm space.  I use a home made prooving cupboard set at 76 degrees F. 

Measure the dough into equal amounts. 125g is about right but you can do a bit more or a bit less.  Now shape your bagels :  roll the ready measured amounts into sausages about 21cm long, then wrap around  the four fingers of your hand with join on the palm side. Roll the joint so the ends stick together.

Place each one on a tray lined with baking parchment and sprinkled with semolina (this stops the shaped bagel sticking) 

Now cover and set aside to proove once again. Now place in fridge for up to 18 hours.

 Prepare a large pan of water and add some malt extract (about a tablespoon per 4 litres). Bring to the boil and drop the bagels into the pan for about 45 seconds. They should float straight away. 

Place on a baking tray and insert in a hot oven (450 degrees F) for about 15 minutes or until well baked.  Leave to cool on a rack and then halve and schmear liberally (!) with favourite spread. 

From plain bagel to breakfast

Breakfast brings with it the hopes of the day;  this easy-to-make plate will start the day with a sprinkle of joy.

Crack an egg in a wide flat bowl and whisk up with some salt and pepper and a teaspoon of basil pesto (or substitute for this any favourite flavoring – harissa paste or just some soya sauce).

Halve a plain or seeded plain bagel and place cut side own in the egg and leave to soak for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a pan with some sunflower oil and when the oil begins to spread, add the bagel cut side down.  Turn the heat down so the bagel cooks gently. Now add the remainder of the egg in the bowl can be added to the pan too.

Press down on the bagel with a spatula as it cooks, so that it get well cooked inside. Turn over a few times until you feel it is ready.

Have on its own or serve with some heated tomatos, rocket and parmesan shavings


Summer soup and buttered olive bagel

Well, summer soup could be lots of things so we should be more specific: lettuce. It is in abundance around now (late June early July); the sweet young leaves have been around for about 6 or seven weeks and now perhpas we just cannot keep up with eating them all.

So, make some soup and have it with an olive bagel or put it in the freezer for another day.

There is a theory that goes something like this: lettuce soup is tasteless and thin. But this applies to certain situations only and these are known as ‘badly made soup situations’ – the recipe below is outside of the tasteless zone, falling well within the really tasty.

  • Take about 450 grams of lettuce leaf – this can be a single variety or many. No need to be exact about the weight.
  • Wash and prepare and pout to one side.
  • Peal crush and chop five cloves of garlic
  • Fine chop a medium sized onion
  • Add a good glug of olive oil (you can use other oil too) to a soup pan (heavy based if you have one so that you can slow cook with ease)
  • When the oil is warmed add the garlic and turn the heat down. Leave for 5 minutes stiring occasionally
  • Add the onion; add a good pinch of black pepper and some salt (a teaspoon maybe)
  • Leave to slow cook for 10 minutes
  • Add a fine chopped potato or two (depending on how big they are and how thick you would like the soup
  • Leave to slow cook and cover, stir occassionally to prevent sticking to the bottom and dont be shy about adding a bit more oil if you feel you need to
  • Add the lettuce and a litre of vegetable stock (I used vegan bouillon powder but any stock will do fine)
  • Gently turn up the heat and cover for about 5 minutes
  • Leave to cool and then put in a blender

You can serve hot or cold

Try it with a spoon of with cream cheese, some chopped sorrel or a sprinkle of gamazio and an olive bagel from The Tower of Bagel on the side

The Sheffield Vegan Plain Bagel

Bagels are not ordinary bread. After all they have a hole in. And they are poached before baking.

There are plenty of recipes for bagels – you can find one easily by searching on google

the-bagelry-cafeLater this week i am off to the wonderful people at The Bagelry to find out how they do it.

There are many differences that seem to align with regions – the New York bagel versus the Montreal bagel, the prove-once-and-poach bagel versus slow proven and refrigerated bagel, the bagel with leven versus the bagel with egg versus the water bagel, the 113 gram bagel  versus the 105g bagel…

It goes on and on (baked on burlap or baked on tray, flip or not flipped) – and you thought it was just some bread with a hole in.

So here to get us started, a basic Sheffield Vegan Bagel.

Its distinguishing features are that it is not a supersize (a la New York) or have a large hole ( a la Montreal) or left to prove in the fridge overnight (to be blogged about later…). It is the recipe (or nearly) that Claudia Roden has in her book of classic Jewish food.


This makes 6 or 7 bagels. The quantities are based on Forge Bakehouse amounts

Yeast (fresh)10g
Malt syrup17g


  • Prepare some trays with a some baking paper. You can dust them – i have used flour and seen advice to spray with a thin coat olive oil. But best effect in my experience is to use semolina which i saw first at Forge Bakehouse.
  • Add the dry ingredients together and mix and make a well.
  • Add the water (make it slightly warm to the touch)
  • Add the salt in to the water (salt slows the activity of yeast so adding it this way minimises its negative action)
  • Add the malt syrup : its a dollop or you can measure it exactly
  • Now mix and kneed. (Stop when you get the signs – http://www.thekitchn.com/bread-baking-tip-how-to-tell-w-156772)
  • (If you are using a mixer use a slowest speed, as the dough is stiff, for about 3 to 4 minutes. And then on one step higher for 2 minutes. You may need more time or less. It depends on the rotation speed of your mixer and the efficiency of your dough hook, in the main. Use the same signs as above for a dough that is ready)
  • Now measure out into 120g lumps and make into balls
  • Roll out each ball until they are about 25cm long and either. You can use a spray to genty sprinkle the douhg with water to make it easier to roll (and this will help hold the join)
  • Turn into a circle and pinch the two ends together and then grab some dough from where the pinch is made bring it over the top of the pinch as if closing an eye-lid. This makes the join neater and stronger.  
  • OR
  • Wrap the dough snake around the widest part of your fist and with the overlap on the palm side bring your hand firmly on to the table and roll back and forward.
  • Lay on the trays for about an hour in a warm place.
  • In enough time to get it up to gas mark 6 (450 degrees C) put on your oven
  • When the proving is nearly done and the oven is ready, bring a large pan of water to boil. Add another dollop of malt syrup to the water. This helps the crust develop.
  • the south towerAdd each bagel to the pan for about 15 seconds a side. They should float straight away. Place on a cooling rack to drain.
  • This is when you can add sesame seeds if you wish (or poppy seeds) by dipping one side of the bagel in a bowl of them. You do not need an egg wash!
  • Now bake for about 20 minutes. Tip out when done and enjoy.
  • You should see a nice crust develop. The bottoms should sound hollow when knocked