a peek inside the fishbowl

28 Sep, 2020

How about some (homemade) cream cheese for your sourdough loaf?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

I made cream cheese!

One of my favourite email newsletters (and it’s a short list, trust me) comes from Smitten Kitchen. Some of you will already be familiar with this website, I am sure. It’s kind of famous. I am a fan of its author, Deb Perelman. She’s so charming. I look forward to her recipes and stories, and when I see them in my inbox I think, aha, what’s she cooking up now? It could be anything, whatever is tickling her fancy at the moment. She is a superstar in the kitchen, but not the kind who might intimidate those of us who don’t have the same know-how.

When Deb wrote about making your own cream cheese in her latest newsletter, I snapped to attention. I wasn’t just going to bookmark this one for future consideration, no siree, I HAD TO MAKE IT.

So on Sunday I went for a stroll to pick up fresh bagels and the handful of ingredients I needed to make my own cream cheese at home. You know what? Deb was (once again) tellin’ it straight. She wrote that it was “unbelievably easy,” and she was right.  What’s more, it was immensely satisfying to see it all come together. It’s very nice to make something yourself, even if it’s something relatively mundane, don’t you think? (eg. English muffins or yogurt.)

Yes, it’s easy. And customizable! You can leave the cream cheese plain or add other things to it and truly make it your own. I made a batch with chives snipped from the backyard and a clove of juicy local garlic but you could also add some strawberry jam (next on my list), or chopped veggies.

I sampled the cream cheese when it was still warm, and it was good, but I preferred it cooled in the fridge after the flavours settled and it solidified a bit more. Here’s where I should mention that homemade cream cheese does not have the same texture as, say, a brick of Philadelphia (solid and tangy). It’s more like Western brand of cream cheese, which is lighter and frothier if you know what I mean. It’s hard to pinpoint, but also has a slightly different flavour profile. It’s kind of like being asked to describe the difference between canned pineapple and fresh pineapple. They are both pineapple, sure, but not the same.

I made cream cheese!

I’m sad to report that half of my batch of cream cheese is gone already. It’s TOO GOOD on crackers. I also enjoyed it for lunch today on a bagel, topped with a healthy amount of smoked salmon, onion, capers, and lettuce.

I made cream cheese! (It's excellent on a bagel with smoked salmon)

I will definitely make my own cream cheese again! I also think it would be neat to bring this to a brunch or breakfast potluck… if we ever have potlucks again. Sigh.

Here’s Deb’s recipe if you want to try it yourself. (I hope you do! Let me know how yours turned out.)



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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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