Cooking with Mandy: homemade vegetable cream cheese

In Blog, Food by Mandy Kaewsowatana0 Comments

When I was growing up, my dad often retold me and my brother the story of how he and my mom met, sharing minute details about the time of year, the weather, different smells, things like that. My dad is an amazing storyteller, so animated and so full of life that I almost always remember every detail of his stories, whether exaggerated or not, whether actually important or not. Strangely enough, one insignificant oddity I remember about my parents’ love story is this vegetable cream cheese.

My parents met at Bagel Place, a small, family-owned bagel café in Reisterstown, Md. My dad was a young manager and my mom worked in the back office. Long story short, it was love at first site. My dad talks about their early dating days, places they went, things they saw, but he always talks about this fantastic cream cheese he used to make at the café. Why was this cream cheese significant? It wasn’t at all, other than the fact that it was homemade, it was delicious, and all the customers loved it. And the best part, my dad had the recipe! He made this cream cheese for us often as kids, and it took me back to the time and place I never existed, this good old Bagel café in 1983.

I love this cream cheese recipe because it’s so incredibly simple! With just four ingredients, it’s the perfect quick-fix for last-minute brunch guests. And it’s a great way to sneak some vegetables into your kids if they happen to be picky eaters. It’s colorful and fun to eat – what kid wouldn’t love that?

This week’s recipe uses up some of those radishes from your CSA share, as well as some chives and carrots. Radishes are a bit spicy on their own, but a little help from rich, tangy cream cheese mellows out that raw radish taste. Add a sweet note from the carrots and oniony kick from the chives, and you’ve got yourself one delicious schmear!

This cream cheese is even better the day after you make it, but you can certainly serve it right away too. Slather it on fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels, or serve it as a dip for crisp vegetable crudité.

Here’s the recipe for my dad’s famous homemade vegetable cream cheese!
½ radish
½ small carrot
¼ cup fresh chives, minced
8 oz. cream cheese
Allow the cream cheese to sit at room temperature for at least one hour to soften. Using a microplane, grate the radish into a small mixing bowl. Next, grate the carrot using the same microplane. Add in the minced chives. Place the softened cream cheese into the mixing bowl and using a spatula, mix the ingredients together until everything is evenly mixed. Spread on bagels, bread, wraps, crackers. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

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