John D. Ivanko
April 16, 2014
Herbed Cheese Spread - Photo courtesy John Ivanko/farmsteadchef.com (HobbyFarms.com)
Courtesy John D. Ivanko/farmsteadchef.com

Living in the heart of Wisconsin cheese country, our cheese purchases fall into two categories. First and primary, we stock up on the basic everyday cheeses that we use with pizzas, pasta and egg dishes served at our Inn Serendipity Bed-and-Breakfast—typically flavorful cheddar or a soft, melting cheese like havarti. The second category is the special Sunday-best—cheese with interesting flavors but that are pricey, qualifying them as treats.

A favorite indulgence cheese is Boursin. Now a trademarked brand name, Boursin cheese originated in 1957 in the Normandy region of France by Francois Boursin, who blended fresh soft cheese with various herbs. Claiming his culinary invention with this own name, Boursin cheese was originally served with seasonings on the side; you would sprinkle in your favorites while spreading the cheese on bread or crackers. Today, Boursin cheese remains a favorite of the French but can be found in more than 30 countries.

Commercial Boursin cheese comes with a steep price tag, typically more than $6 for small 5-ounce packages. That prompted us to experiment in creating a homespun, thrifty equivalent. We quickly fell in love with our Herbed Cheese Spread, which now serves as a workhorse in our refrigerator. Let the spread sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes prior to serving, allowing it to reach a soft, spreadable consistency, and serve with crackers, bread, fruit and cut-up vegetables. Open a bottle of red wine and let the soirée begin.

Herbed Cheese Spread is also nice to have on hand to add quick, easy richness and flavor to a potpourri of dishes. Try it in:

  • mashed potatoes with a splash of cream and extra butter
  • an omelet along with sautéed spinach
  • stuffed chicken breast
  • crescent roll dough, rolled up and baked
  • hot pasta
  • steamed vegetables
  • stuffed mushrooms
  • sandwiches (both as a cold spread and in grilled cheese)

Next week, we’ll share our Potato Basket recipe, served with a dollop of this Herbed Cheese Spread.

Recipe: Herbed Cheese Spread

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (one package) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley (or 1 T. fresh, minced parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

Preparation
Mix ingredients very well. Store in refrigerator and bring to room temperature just before serving.

Savoring the good life,

John and Lisa's Signatures

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