Take the cream cheese! Cathy Barrow shares 3 creamy, punchy schmear recipes for a better bagel

Earlier this week, Salon Food published a conversation between writer Pearse Anderson and Cathy Barrow, the author of the upcoming cookbook “Bagels, Schmears and a Nice Piece of Fish.” In it, longtime recipe developer and cookbook author Barrow explains how to create the perfect deli-inspired brunch at home.

Of course, a lot of that is down to the schmears and spreads that adorn the bagels (whether you prefer New York or Montreal style is up to you). From her book, Barrow shared three recipes with Salon readers that will help make their next bagel one to remember: the recipe for the “schmear master” – which is the perfect, creamy base for add-ins – scallion cheese and Bacon Green Onion Cheese.

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Recipe: Master Schmear
Makes 9 ounces (255 grams)

At the breakfast table, it is perfectly acceptable to serve a rectangular brick of Philadelphia cream cheese in its original form. It has the same familiarity as a cylinder of canned cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table. A bagel brunch, however, deserves a schmear, which is different from that block of cream cheese. It is more spreadable and creamier, and is the vehicle for flavorful additions.

  • 8 ounces [225 g] whole cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and lemon juice, increasing the speed as the ingredients combine, until fluffy, lightened and spreadable, just 1 to 2 minutes. You can also use a medium mixing bowl and stiff spoon to combine, then stir and whisk vigorously to aerate and lighten the mixture.

2. Wrap the schmear in a ramekin or two, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator.

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Recipe: Green Onion Cheese
Makes 10 ounces (280 grams)

When chives are no longer in season, I turn to green onion cream cheese for an equally zesty onion flavor. But the scallions pack a little too much punch for me, so I soak them in cold water for a few minutes to soften some of the bite. Be sure to dry the green onions on a cloth towel before adding them to the schmear. (Never terry cloth, and no paper towels. Green onion pieces stick. Very annoying.)

  • 1/3 cup [20 g] finely chopped green onions, white and light green parts only
  • 1 Schmear Master recipe
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. In a small bowl, cover the chopped green onions with cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry the shallots on a tea towel.

2. In a medium bowl, add the schmear, green onions and salt. Stir with a fork until well combined.

3. Pack the scallion cheese into a ramekin or two, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It will keep for about 2 days in the fridge before the onion flavor becomes overpowering.

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Recipe: Cheese with Scallions and Bacon
Makes 10 ounces (280 grams)

On the way to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where the ferries run to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Cape Cod Bagel makes a really good bagel. The scallion and bacon cream cheese I had there was gorgeous, and this is my attempt to replicate it. Cut the bacon and green onions into very small pieces to make this schmear especially spreadable. Soaking chopped green onions in cold water softens their onion bite. When spread on an egg bagel, it’s a new spin on the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich.

  • 1/3 cup [20 g] finely chopped green onions, white and light green parts only
  • 1 Schmear Master recipe
  • 1/3 cup [115 g] crispy, chopped smoked bacon (about 4 slices)
  • 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a small bowl, cover the chopped green onions with cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry the shallots on a tea towel.

2. In a medium bowl, add the schmear, bacon, green onions and pepper. Stir with a fork until well combined.

3. Pack the cheese with green onions and bacon in one or two ramekins, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It will keep for about 2 days in the fridge before its onion flavor becomes overpowering.

If you love these recipes as much as we do, consider picking up Cathy Barrow’s “Bagels, Schmears and a Nice Piece of Fish,” out March 15.

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