One of the advantages of being a home-based cheesecake seller is that we never run out of supply of cream cheese at home. We buy cream cheese in bulk, we choose the batch with the farthest expiration date and use the cheese following the first-one-in-first-one-out principle. What we don’t use for baking cheesecakes, we experiment with. Cream cheese is just so versatile. When chilled, it can go into the center of a meatball. Softened, it can be mixed with spinach to make meatless dumplings, it can go into stews, it is great with pasta and you can even make a quickie version. If I knew who invented or discovered cheese, I’d write an ode to him or her. But cheese is older than recorded history and whoever made the first cheese is unknown. So there goes my ode.
Everyone in my family loves cheese. Vegetarian Sam will never be a vegan because she will not give up eating cheese. Cheese is just too delicious. And gooey melty cheese… If I were a proponent of food porn, I’d say that photos of melting cheese has got to be among the most visceral of food images.
It isn’t surprising, therefore, that cheese was at the forefront of our Christmas Eve dinner two years ago. We had twice baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese stuffing, and we had this bowl of salty creamy delight bursting with flavors of herbs and spices. This cream cheese mixture is great as a dip or a spread.
Spicy cream cheese dip (or spread)
- 250 grams cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 bird’s eye chili chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped mint
- 2 bell peppers roasted, peeled and finely chopped
- dash lime juice
- finely grated zest of one lime
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a bowl, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the salt and pepper.
- Add salt and pepper little by little, tasting as you go along.
- Leave for at least 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavors to develop.
- Serve with thinly sliced toasted bread, break sticks or crackers.