100th post & bagels!!!!!

Happy New Year!! I know it’s already almost the end of January, but I haven’t come up with my New Year’s resolutions yet which means the year hasn’t reallllly started. Because everything revolves around me. *hair toss*)

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

While we’re on the subject of me, (Yes I’m aware that I began that subject) I have some super exciting news and it is in fact soooooooo exciting that even bagels will have to wait and that is no small matter.

Today is my 100th blog post on memo2munch!!!!

Talk about starting the new year off right! Yup, I’ve yakked away on memo2munch 100 times, which is pretty c r a z y.

So in celebration, I’m sharing a recipe for one of my favorite foods and one that I think we can all agree is deliciously worthy of the 100th recipe spotlight.

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

I have a very strong love for bagels. I think it must be in every Jew’s DNA somewhere. Like we hear any of the bagel trigger words (“schmear,” “lox”) and then wheels of dough start rolling through our brains down to our mouths & out pops the phrase, “Bagels?! I love bagels!”

Which, of course, is quickly followed by, “But, you know, only Good, Real Bagels™.”

What’s a real bagel? Well, everyone has an opinion, but many say they’ve got to be boiled before they’re baked. I’m all for a good boiled bagel, so today’s recipe includes an easy boiling step! Hey, it’s the 100th post. We gotta go all out.

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

During the winter holidays a lot of my family gets together. We plan the whole week around food (not even kidding), and one of the days always includes a FISH FEAST! It really feels like a feast. My cousin has a bunch of cured and smoked fish flown in from this famous place in New York called Russ & Daughter’s. We’re talking lox, kippered salmon, sturgeon, even a whole smoked white fish! Then one of my other cousins snags a variety of chewy bagels from downtown Chicago. We all gather at my grandparents’ house one afternoon and eat so much yummy food, with bagels at the foundation. (My grandpa makes a lox too, which holds its own against anything from Russ & Daughters.)

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

I couldn’t have made it to my 100th post without the support I’ve received from all of you who take the time to read my blog & encourage me. Thank you so much! You are a very important part of this blog, so I’ve collected some of your bagel memories to share today too. <3

“When I was little I use to call them ‘not-donuts’ and for a while I use to feel cheated by them cuz they weren’t donuts but now I love them way more than their sugary counterparts.” – Kriss

“My grandma used to make “birdies in the nest” for my brothers when my brothers slept over at my grandparents house. By the time I was old enough to sleep over, my grandpa had ripped off my grandma’s idea and made “birdies in the bagel”. It’s a piece of bread (nest) with a hole cut in the middle for the egg, or in the hole of a bagel if making the bagel version. All my cousins and I went more bananas over birdies in the bagel than birdies in the nest, so grandpa always got a lot of credit and grandma was kind of resentful of that. I have a lot of memories of watching my grandpa make both birdies in the bagel and soldiers (cinnamon sugar toast cut into long strips) for me when I slept over at their house. I never made them myself at home until he passed away in November. The first birdies in the bagel I made, I cracked the egg and it was a double yolk. Grandpa always loved yolk, and double ones especially so. Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is because of birdies in the bagel, I will always associate bagels with my grandpa.” – Hannah

“My dad owned a bagel shop for awhile! We grew up running around eating fresh bagel bites (mini bagels with a dollop of cream cheese icing)!” – Alyssa

“While in NY over break I visited a friend in New Jersey for a day and told her I needed the “NJ experience” incorporated into my visit. When we were considering breakfast options, she mentioned bagels. I said sure, but I wondered if that would fill us up (we were both really hungry). She said bagels in NJ are different than ones I’d find in Carmel, so just one bagel would do the trick. I had a whole wheat bagel with veggie cream cheese and lo and behold, it kept me full through the 4 different trains/subways it took to get me back to where I was staying with my dad in NY!” – Jacob

“SWEET BAGEL! We have it in israel its the best thing ever! Its basically bagel brushed with sugar syrup” – Miriam

“I was around 17 (thinking back it seems like that can’t be right–so old for such an epiphany?) when my brother moved to New York and I had my first everyseed with lox. There are a few holy trinities in food: one is basil/tomato/mozzarella, another lox/caper/onion. And enormous amounts of schmear. There is no delicate way to eat this sandwich.” – Steven

“Tommy [my fiance] and I go almost every Sunday to Einstein’s Bagels and pick some up for breakfast. It’s become a ritual!” – Cindy

“I heard once that if you eat a Montreal bagel and a New York City bagel on the same day, the bagels will know you’re a traitor and work together to kill you from the inside. I was pretty skeptical until I saw it with my own two eyes.” – Throsby (details, we need details, Throsby!)

“When I was a kid, there was this bagel place near my mom’s work and she would pick up chocolate chip bagels with chocolate chip cream cheese. One day, she got some for me and they were gone overnight. My dad came right out and admitted to eating them, complaining about how sickly sweet they were and he said they made him sick, but apparently that didn’t stop him from eating every last one and all of the chocolate chip cream cheese. Those things were so good.” – Sara

“[Your aunt’s] Bat Mitzvah was held the weekend of March 17. Because we had several relatives coming in from out of town, Grandma and Poppy hosted a brunch on that Sunday and served bagels, lox, and other brunch-type foods. A week or so before then, Grandma went to the little bakery in Whiting and ordered bagels for the weekend. When she went to the bakery that Saturday to pick up the bagels, she noticed that they had green bagels in the case. She thought it would be fun to also get a few green bagels for the brunch on Sunday, so she asked the woman behind the counter for a couple of green bagels. The woman looked at her and said, “It’s St. Patrick’s Day. All the bagels are green!” It was quite the sight — the bright orange lox and white cream cheese on the green bagels.” -My momma!

“I had a bagel today. There was a high amount of cream cheese.” – Tyler (a bagel success story)

“Living in a predominantly jewish community in the suburbs of New York City has greatly elevated my standards for bagels! For one thing, a truly fresh bagel NEVER needs should be toasted. If you’re buying it fresh, it will already be warm and ready to be eaten immediately with a massive glob of cream cheese shmear. Also, its an unspoken rule that you never buy your bagels from multiple bagel joints- you obviously must commit to one family-run bagel place.” – Piper

“As you know I eat like 200 bagels a year at Einsteins. It’s like our second home. Although bagels should be boiled. And one of the reasons NYC bagels are so good is the water.” – Ken

“The first time I ever had a REAL bagel was in Seattle. Amazing. I didn’t know then that a real bagel is boiled before it’s baked. I made them myself a few times after that but, even though they tasted good, they were very ugly. Not smooth like a store bought one. Tell me how to fix that problem.” -Susan (I’ll do some more experimenting & let ya know! 😉 )

“When we go on overnight at camp (it’s the teen portion of camp walking out to a spot in the woods and camping out), the counselors make all of the food. In the mornings, I would always look forward to a blueberry bagel grilled so it had just started to brown and some cream cheese! It was always really welcome, especially because you had to stay close to the warm charcoal fire to make it perfect (so it didn’t burn) and then it was always so yummy! It was a really fun way to toast bagels and the campsite itself is quite pretty, in the middle of the woods.”Colleen

“We would get all kindds of assorted bagels quite often growing up because the Bagels Forever factory is in Madison and my dad would always get himself everything bagels with all the onion and garlic and seeds, so my mom would make him keep them in a separate bag. He’d eat them with lox and cream cheese—-I eat them with butter. My favorite bagel! And the pool I went to was across the street from the factory/shop and bagels were 25 cents each so when I was a kid on swim team we would hunt for quarters by the vending machines cuz if you found one you got a bagel!”Mari

Good, Real Bagels™ (aka boiled bagels)
Makes 8 bagels
Adapted from sophisticatedgourmet.com

Ingredients
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1.5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (300mL) warm water
3 ½ cups (500g) bread flour, plus more for kneading
1.5 tsp. salt

For optional toppings:
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds

Method
1. Warm ½ cup of the water so that it is the temperature of bath water, meaning it is quite warm but you can keep your finger comfortably submerged. Stir in the sugar and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture as well as about half of the remaining water.

3. Mix the dough together, adding the rest of the water bit by bit if needed. Then turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a stiff, smooth dough that is no longer sticky to the touch.

4. Wipe out the bowl from before, it doesn’t have to be spotless, just so all the loose crumbs are gone. Lightly brush bowl with oil and place the dough ball inside. Cover with plastic wrap also coated with some oil or a damp dish towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Gently punch dough down and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, as uniform as possible. Shape each piece into a tight ball. Coat a finger in flour and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to create the ring shape. Stretch the ring so the hole is about 1/3 the width of the bagel. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet.

6. After shaping the rings, cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap coated in oil or a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C.

7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon to lower the bagels gently into the water, being careful not to deflate them. Boil as many as can fit in one layer in the pot. Let the bagels float on one side for 1-2 minutes, then flip using the spoon and let float for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from water and return to cookie sheet, letting as much water drip off as possible.

8. At this point, add any toppings by brushing the bagels with egg wash and sprinkling the toppings on top.

9. Ready to bake! Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.

Honey Almond Squares + Update

HAPPY 2014!!!!

How crazy/exciting! I hope this year is everything you want it to be—but better—and that you take opportunities for all kinds of new experiences—especially those that scare you (within reason, of course! There’s putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, and then there’s putting yourself in a tank with sharks. Capisce?).

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I figured since it’s the New Year and all, I’d give you a lil’ update on what I’ve been up to PLUS a recipe (nomnomnom). But first can we talk about Google’s logo today? Wuuuut. I mean the numbers’ faces, gah.

Below is the first thing I ate in the year 2014, forever immortalized on the internet! (A very good thing, as now I have a chance of actually remembering…) I hadn’t eaten anything SINCE LAST YEAR UGH so this meal had to be supa yummy. French toast made with a fresh, crusty bread and some colorful berries. And tea, of course. We’re fancy in 2014.

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Last Sunday we had a DEEELICIOUS brunch at my grandparent’s house featuring various fish my cousin had flown in from New York, bagels another cousin brought from Chicago, a blintz soufflé made by my grandma, crackers and a fruit salad prepared by yet another cousin, and honey almond squares (for which you will get the recipe today) made by moi. Whew, what a MEAL! I’ll break it down a little.

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Are you drooling? I’m drooling.

The fish came from a very well-known New York establishment called Russ and Daughters. It also happens that 2014 is Russ and Daughter’s 100th anniversary! Russ and Daughters is renowned for the quality of its fish, and boy, do we know why! From top to bottom (in random order): Nova Lox, Smoked Whitefish, Kippered (baked) Salmon, and Sturgeon. Not pictured was also some pickled herring.

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The whitefish came whole, so here’s a little montage of my grandpa boning it! WARNING: full dead fish alert, not for the faint of heart!

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Since I had to try it all, I came in with a strategy: two bagel halves, two types of fish per bagel. So as to not be confused when one type of fish ended and the other began, I made sure that each bagel half had a white-ish fish and a type of salmon. It ended up kind of like a yin-yang type of thing. Mmmm!

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Now for the Honey Almond Squares, which came from a New York Times recipe. They weren’t something that I normally would have picked out on my own, but I’m so glad that my cousin David found it and emailed it to my grandparents because DANG are they good.

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They get even better over time, too. The flavors of almond, honey, and a whisper of orange really meld with each other and come to life in these little squares.

Please note the word “whisper” in that last sentence. I just love that. I can’t take credit for it, but I love it. I read it in an article a few weeks ago, and I really don’t want to tell you how much thought has gone in to finding the perfect time to use it. Let’s just appreciate it in this here first post of 2014!

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I really get that imagery though, you know? It’s like, I’m telling you what’s in them and I say “There’s definitely honey and almond,” and then I whisper as an afterthought, “and orange.” It’s not like “WOAH THERE’S ORANGE!!” but just as if it’s a bit of a surprise to find that orange flavor.

Yup, it’s January 1st and we’ve already established that I’m crazy. It’s cool. Really.

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These little squares are great, though! The crust is just the right thickness, and it’s soft, which is in perfect contrast to the crunch of the almonds. The honey gives the squares a magnificent sheen, and the overall effect is dazzling. They’re just as much a treat to look at as they are to eat!

Make sure the keep the squares tightly covered once they have cooled completely. It develops the flavor so much more and even improves the texture.

ENJOY!

If you liked this post, please click the gray follow button on the left side of the screen or at the very bottom of the page to receive email notifications about new posts. Thanks for reading!

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Honey Almond Squares
(The New York Times)

Ingredients

Pastry
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. almond meal (see note)
3 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. margarine, chilled and cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Topping
4 T. margarine
1 cup sliced almonds
1/3 c. candied orange or lemon peel, cut into tiny cubes
1/3 c. sugar
2 T. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

*Note: If you don’t have almond meal on hand, you can finely grind some sliced or whole almonds in a food processor.

Method
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8 or 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment, letting it hang over the sides for easier removal later.
2. Prepare the pastry: In a food processor, combine flour, almond meal, sugar and salt. Pulse to blend. Add the margarine and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk, vanilla, and one tablespoon of water. Pulse to incorporate. add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of water through the feed tube, tablespoon by tablespoon, pulsing until just before the pastry forms a ball. You may not need all the water. I only needed 1 tablespoon.
3. Turn the dough out into the prepared baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven on the center rack and bake until the pastry begins the brown around the edges, 12-15 minutes.
4. Prepare the topping: In a saucepan, melt the margarine over low heat. Add the almonds, candied peel, sugar, honey, and vanilla extract. Heat just until the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Remove the pan from heat and spread the almond-honey mixture evenly over the pastry. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the topping is a deep gold 12-15 minutes. Once it has cooled, remove from the pan and cut into 25 squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.