Jake Cohen's Bagels with Charred Scallion Cream Cheese & Pickled Onions

"When it comes to building that perfect bagel, I need a modest layer of schmear topped with thick slices of tomato, lox and tons of pickled onions to add some sharpness and acidity," says the author of Jew-Ish: A Cookbook.

bagels
Photo: Jennifer Causey

"One of my favorite aspects of bagel culture is creative shops around the country have gotten with their schmear, mixing in everything from sprinkles to harissa. I'm typically a scallion cream cheese purist, but I've become obsessed with charring them first in a cast iron to impart a hint of smoke and sweetness," says Jake Cohen, author of Jew-Ish: A Cookbook. "When it comes to building that perfect bagel I need a modest layer of schmear topped with thick slices of tomato, lox, and tons of pickled onions to add some sharpness and acidity."

"These recipes are beyond easy but I still have a few tips to ensure they come out perfectly," he says. "For the charred scallion cream cheese, you need to have a pan ripping hot. The oil should just begin to smoke when you add the scallions so they color and char, but don't fully cook through. This helps maintain the vibrant green color and scallion flavor! For the pickled onions, it's all about patience. They taste so much better as they sit in your fridge, so try to make them at least the day before your next bagel party!"

Recreate Cohen's ultimate bagel with the recipe below!

Jake Cohen's Bagels with Charred Scallion Cream Cheese & Pickled Onions

1 large (13-oz.) red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup water

1 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. plus 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided

2 tsp. coriander seeds

1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

8 scallions (4 oz.), trimmed

1 (8-oz.) pkg. full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

8 everything bagels, split in half

  1. Make the pickled onions: Place onion slices in a 24-ounce glass jar. Bring water, vinegar, sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, coriander and crushed red pepper to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until sugar and salt have dissolved, about 2 minutes. Pour over onion, and let cool completely before sealing jar, about 1 hour. (Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.)
  2. Make the cream cheese: Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium high. Add scallions, and cook, flipping as needed until lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board; let cool slightly, then finely chop. Stir together scallions and cream cheese in a medium bowl until well-incorporated. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  3. To serve, spread scallion cream cheese evenly over bagel halves, and sprinkle with pickled onions and your choice of toppings. (Refrigerate remaining cream cheese in an airtight container; it will keep up to one week.)

Quick tip! If you're not planning to eat the bagels on the day you bring them home, freeze them immediately to preserve their freshness. The sooner a bagel goes into the freezer, the better it tastes when thawed.

Serves: 8

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

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