Plain cream cheese: endless possibilities

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How do you make a sandwich? I grew up with mayonnaise. Spread mayo on a slice of bread, top with a slice of cold meat (ham, most of the time), cover with another slice of bread and that was it. Even eggs were paired with mayo. You know, egg salad? Mash hard-boiled eggs, season with salt and pepper, mix in mayo… Even shredded chicken and canned tuna went with mayonnaise. The only times that things were a little different were the times when we had hotdogs. Then, there would be ketchup and mustard as well. Oh, yes, another exception — cheese. When we had cheese sandwich, instead of mayonnaise, I spread butter on my bread. Mayo and cheese never went well together, in my opinion. Butter and cheese did.

Don’t get me wrong. I love mayonnaise. I’m sure I always will. But, sometimes, variety helps. My daughters discovered that at an earlier age. Or, perhaps, because they grew up in the age of globalization and the internet, and they were exposed to more things and ideas. Like cream cheese, for instance. Who heard of cream cheese in the 70s and 80s? Not me, for sure. I don’t remember ever seeing cream cheese in the grocery. But my daughters? They took to cream cheese like fish to water. They love cream cheese plain and they love it flavored.

Flavored cream cheese? You know, the kind in tubs. With garlic, with chives, with a dozen other things. They are a bit more expensive than plain cream cheese which is a little, well… See, cheese is sold by weight. When you buy a 200 gram tub of cream cheese with garlic and chives, for instance, you actually get less cheese because the weight of the added ingredients form part of the net weight of the product. So, I’m learning to make flavored cream cheese at home. This is the first experiment. The simplest. The most basic. Cream cheese spread with onion and garlic.

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First, I let the cream cheese soften to room temperature. I whisked it in a bowl to make it fluffy. It’s easier to mix in anything that way.

Then, I chopped scallions (that’s onion leaves), about two tablespoonfuls after chopping, and two cloves of garlic.

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Into the bowl of whisked cream cheese went the chopped scallions and garlic. Plus, a bit of freshly cracked black pepper.

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I stirred everything just until blended then made sandwiches. Really simple sandwiches. Cream cheese spread and thin slices of cucumber. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Next time (next times, to be more precise), I’ll try these:

1. Cream cheese spread with roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes
2. Cream cheese spread with rosemary, garlic and parsley
3. Cream cheese spread with basil, garlic and nuts

I can go on and on, I have at least a dozen ideas already, but you get my drift. Endless possibilities with plain cream cheese. Just let the imagination go wild.