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Food fads come and go. Remember muffins, Krispy Kreme donuts and different-colored Heinz ketchups? Some people even say today’s adorable (and expensive) cupcakes are on their way out.

One classic that has endured is the humble and hearty bagel.

According to Gil Marks, in his 672-page “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” the beigel was first mentioned in 1610 in the records of the Krakow Jewish community. Its Yiddish name comes from a German word for ring, “bougal,” and it traveled to the United States with European Jewish immigrants in the late 1880s.

Denoting the circle of life, they are served at brit milahs, b’nai mitzvahs and post-funeral spreads. But these days, bagels are ubiquitous — part of luxury hotel breakfast buffets all over the world and also at your corner coffee shop. You have to be rather ambitious to make them at home, as the dough is first boiled in water and then baked.

I am admittedly a bagel snob and will not go near one that has chocolate chips, blueberries, raisins and other “foreign” bodies. A sprinkling of poppy and sesame seeds or kosher salt is fine, as long the rest of the bagel maintains its integrity.


Strawberry-Cheese Spread

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups lowfat or regular cottage cheese

1 Tbs. honey

2 Tbs. seedless raspberry jam

2 cups sliced strawberries

Combine ingredients in food processor until smooth.


Feta-Olive Spread

Makes about 2 cups

6 oz. feta cheese

6 oz. cream cheese

1 tsp. dried oregano

1⁄2 cup pitted kalamata olives

6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained

5 sprigs fresh parsley

Combine ingredients in food processor until a rough paste forms.


Smoked Whitefish Spread

Makes about 2 cups

3 cups boneless, skinless smoked whitefish pieces (or smoked trout)

3 Tbs. mayonnaise

3 Tbs. plain yogurt

2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbs. prepared white horseradish (or to taste)

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor until smooth.


Mediterranean Stuffed Bagels

Serves 4 to 8

4 bagels, halved

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1⁄2 cup Greek olives, pitted and chopped

2 Tbs. capers, rinsed and drained

1⁄4 cup chopped parsley

salt and pepper

1 cup shredded Fontina or jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove soft crumbs from inside of bagel halves, leaving about a 1⁄4-inch shell. Combine 1⁄2 cup of the crumbs with tomato, feta cheese, cucumber, olives, capers and parsley. Taste for salt and pepper. Fill bagel shells with this mixture and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle each half with shredded cheese. Bake until bubbly and cheese is golden, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes and serve.


Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].