Firstly, you should know that the majority of this post will be a garbled, semi-literate attempt at a love letter to New York. Because of reasons, including bagels. Secondly, you should know that this post contains BAGELS. And not just that, but ONION BAGELS. So if you don’t live in New York, or (like me) anywhere even close to New York at all, you can bring the bagel action to your home. Please note: I am aware of ONE bakery in my neighbourhood that produces what I would deem an acceptable bagel, but the lines are always so long, and their opening hours so inconvenient that they might as well not. So I bring the bagels to me. Because I will do anything to bring myself closer to my unrequited love; New York. You know who made me fall in love with NY? It was Nora Ephron. Who better to hear the good news from, than a real New Yorker. I read her novel Heartburn maybe 5 years ago, because Nigella Lawson recommends it in one of her books. And of course, given that Nigella is my Oprah, I just do whatever she tells me. And she was right, the New York that Ms Ephron paints is a stunner. Just the kind of bustling metropolis, choc full of micro-cultures and sub-cultures that an angsty teen like me WOULD love. But there also lurks a deep sentimentality at the heart of it all, and I think that’s what truly appealed to me then, and still does now. Nora Ephron also made two movies based in NYC. You probably already know this, but they were ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and ‘You’ve Got Mail’. I adore When Harry Met Sally. I have absolutely no time for any negativity about it. I love Meg Ryan in it, I love Billy Crystal in it, I love New York in it, and I love the New Yorkness of the whole enterprise. But I feel like Nora’s true feelings for the island of Manhattan appear more fully in ‘You’ve Got Mail’. [Sidenote, did ya’ll know that Dave Chapelle is in that movie? Surprises me every time I see him.][Other sidenote: I never say ‘ya’ll’ in real life]. Anyway, the whole thing, the book stores of New York, Tom Hanks, people bustling on city streets. That whole line:
‘Don’t you just love New York in the Fall?’
I find it totally magical. I would love to go to New York City. I will go there one day. And I will search the streets for every Shop Around the Corner shop that I can find. I will try and spot Tom Hanks also, but I do that everywhere I go, so that’s not really a New York thing. Until then, I will keep reading Smitten Kitchen (another New York favourite), I will watch Annie Hall and Manhattan by Woody Allen (the very definition of a New Yorker), I will read all of Nora Ephron’s books and essays, and I will re-watch her movies. And I will make bagels. I will make onion bagels. And I will eat the onion bagels with scallion cream cheese, because once you’ve given in to the possibility of onion-breath at breakfast, there’s no point in holding back now. I will eat my onion bagels with coffee, black, and I will DREAM. Have you been to New York? Do you have any recommendations for the city, or any other books or movies about it that you love? Or is there another place that has your heart? Tell me, I love to hear this stuff.
INGREDIENTS 1 brown onion
500g strong/bread flour
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp vegetable oil
250 ml warm water
Malt Syrup, brown rice syrup, brown sugar or even maple syrup, in a pinch.
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, dried herbs or anything else you like, to sprinkle on top (optional) Firstly, peel and grate the onion coarsely onto a few layers of paper towels. Gather up the onion in the paper towels, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set to one side. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, yeast sugar and oil, and paddle briefly to combine. Stop the mixer, and add the water all in one go, before mixing with the dough hook until the dough is elastic and smooth. This usually takes about 10 minutes. Add the wrung-out onion, and mix until it is well incorporated. Set the dough aside to prove for about an hour. Once the hour is up, turn the oven on to 220C to preheat and fill a wide saucepan with water, placing it over a medium heat. Punch down the dough, and divide it into three balls. Divide each ball into three pieces, and roll each piece into a sausage shape, about 15cm long. Curl the dough around and pinch the ends together to form your bagels. By now the water should be simmering, so add about 2 tablespoons of malt syrup. Starting with the first bagel you shaped, gently place it in the simmering water, and poach it for about 30 seconds on each side. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, and place on a lined baking sheet. Quickly sprinkle over any toppings of your choice, before proceeding with the remaining bagels until they are all done. Bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until burnished brown and hollow when tapped. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, before diving in. Cream cheese is mandatory.