cream cheese on baguettes with parsley and chives cream cheese on baguettes with parsley and chives Israeli Kitchen Cream cheese and baguettes are a perfect pair. (Photo: GooDween123 / Shutterstock)

Chive cream cheese

Ever thought about making your own cream cheese? Here's your best technique.

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  • Yield: 3/4 cup
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 8 hours

Does the morning toast leave you feeling uninspired? Pull the sweet cinnamon cream cheese out of the fridge and spread it on those toasty slices. Want something savory to dress up sliced tomatoes? Try the chive-flavored cream cheese we’re featuring today. You can make your own cream cheese – it’s unbelievably easy – and add your favorite ingredients as the whim takes you. The result: unique spreadable cheese that taste the way you want it to. You control how soft or firm you want it and how savory, salty or sweet it should be. Inexpensive and delicious.

It’s one of those lazy, make-it-up-as-you-go-along recipes; hardly a recipe at all. But you do need some basic equipment: some clean fabric to strain the flavored cream cheese overnight. I use a cheese bag with a drawstring that I picked up at a farmer’s market, but in the past I’ve also used fabric strainers improvised from cheesecloth, a brand-new, washed cloth diaper, even new knee-high stockings, washed by hand in hot water several times to get rid of the factory smell.

Even an old pillowcase, washed in hot water and taken right out of the dryer, does the trick, and it’s very good when you’re making large quantities of cheese.

And of course you need to let the milky water from the sour cream drip away. I most often tie the bag to the faucet in the kitchen sink, but I’ve also tied a bag to the handle of a wooden spoon and balanced it over a deep bowl.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

Directions

Blend all ingredients. Spoon into the bottom of a clean bag. Try to keep it all in one place, not spread over the inside of the bag. Tie the bag at the top and hang it over the sink to drip 8 hours or overnight.

That’s it. The rest is up to you. If you want a soft, spreadable cheese, open the bag after 6 hours and spoon some out to judge its texture. If you want a firm cheese that holds its shape until you spread it out with a knife, like commercial cream cheese, let it drip the full 8 hours. You can continue hardening the cheese for another 4 hours. Just check it once in a while until you get the consistency you like.

In a very hot summer kitchen, it’s wisest to make small quantities and arrange for the cheese to drip in the fridge. In that case, use the wooden spoon and deep bowl system described above.

The cheese keeps, tightly covered, and in the coolest part of the refrigerator, for a week. The recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Flavor suggestions:

  • Garlic/paprika cheese: Mash 1 fat garlic clove and scrape it into the bowl of sour cream. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend well.
  • Chili cheese: Add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili flakes to the sour cream. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste.
  • Herby cheese: Finely chop 1 tablespoon fresh basil, oregano, thyme or a combination of all, and add to the sour cream. Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley. Salt to taste. Add 1/2 tablespoon good olive oil and blend well.
  • Sweet cheese: Sweeten to taste with sugar, sweetener or honey. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground nutmeg or a combination.

chive cream cheese in a bowl with saladFor a softer cream cheese, let sit for 6 hours. (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

Related Topics: Appetizers

Recipes from the Israeli KitchenRecipes from the Israeli Kitchen
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