RECIPE

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

In her new book, "Bagels, Schmears and a Nice Piece of Fish," Barrow teaches readers to make deli classics at home

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Published March 12, 2022 4:30PM (EST)

Cream cheeses from Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish by Cathy Barrow (Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books/Linda Xiao)
Cream cheeses from Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish by Cathy Barrow (Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books/Linda Xiao)

Reprinted from Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish by Cathy Barrow with permission from Chronicle Books, 2022. Photographs © Linda Xiao.

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, Barrow, a longtime recipe developer and cookbook author, outlines how to create the perfect delicatessen-inspired brunch at home. 

Of course, a big part of that is 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 "schmear master" recipe — which is the perfect punchy, creamy base for add-ins — scallion cheese, and bacon scallion cheese. 

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Recipe: Schmear Master 
Makes 9 ounces (255 grams) 

At the breakfast table, it's perfectly acceptable to serve up 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, though, deserves a schmear, which is different from that block of cream cheese. It is more spreadable and creamy, and is the vehicle for flavorful additions.

  • 8 oz [225 g] full-fat cream cheese, softened 
  • 2 tbsp sour cream or crème fraiche
  • 1⁄2 tsp 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. Alternatively, use a medium mixing bowl and a stiff spoon to combine and then stir and whip vigorously to aerate and lighten the mixture.

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

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Recipe: Scallion Cheese 
Makes 10 ounces (280 grams) 

When chives are no longer in season, I turn to scallion cream cheese for a similarly zingy onion flavor. But scallions carry a little too much oomph for me, so I soak them in cold water for a few minutes to mellow some of the bite. Make sure to dry the scallions on a cloth towel before adding to the schmear. (Never terrycloth, and not paper towels. The scallion bits stick. Very annoying.)

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

1. In a small bowl, cover the chopped scallions with cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry the scallions on a cloth towel.

2. In a medium bowl, add the schmear, scallions, and salt. Stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.

3. Pack the scallion cheese into a ramekin or two, cover and chill until ready to serve. It will keep for about 2 days in the refrigerator before the oniony flavor becomes overwhelming.

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Recipe: Bacon Scallion Cheese 
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 very good bagel. The scallion and bacon cream cheese I had there was magnificent, and this is my attempt to replicate it. Chop the bacon and scallions into very small pieces to make this schmear especially spreadable. Soaking the chopped scallions in cold water mellows their oniony bite. When spread on an egg bagel, this is a new twist on the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich.

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

1. In a small bowl, cover the chopped scallions with cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry the scallions on a cloth towel.

2. In a medium bowl, add the schmear, bacon, scallions, and pepper. Stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.

3. Pack the bacon scallion cheese into a ramekin or two, cover and chill until ready to serve. It will keep for about 2 days in the refrigerator before its oniony flavor becomes overwhelming.

If you like these recipes as much as we do, consider buying Cathy Barrow's "Bagels, Schmears and a Nice Piece of Fish," which comes out on March 15. 
 

5 more of our favorite quick breakfast recipes: 


Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's deputy food editor.

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Bagels Cathy Barrow Recipe Schmear