Saturday, December 20, 2014

Swiss-Almond Cheese Spread with Caramelized Onions

Clearly, I've been on a cheese spread kick.  Not only did I do the Cheddar Cheese Spread recipe, and Justin did Ina Garten's smoked salmon spread, but I also made a cream cheese, green olive and pecan spread that I remembered my mom stuffing celery sticks with for holidays when I was a kid.  After talking to my grandmother the other day,  come to find out, my great-great grandmother used to make the pecan-olive spread stuffed in celery.  100 year old family recipe!  Pretty cool to me!  One of my older brothers and I both had the urge to make it this year (without having talked about it) - must be feeling reminiscent.  I hope at least one of my nieces or nephews end up liking it too to carry on the tradition.

Anyway, this all actually started with me having the desire to do a Swiss-almond cheese spread.  I just hadn't gotten to it yet.  I was trying to think of something to do to it so it wasn't just Swiss-almond spread and I thought caramelized onions would be great with it... and they were.  I think this might be our favourite dip/spread yet.  The Swiss cheese is so mellow and mild... but the almonds give it a good crunch and the onions with it almost remind me of French-onion soup.  Really delicious!

I blame the holidays for my cream cheese extravaganza.  And I've definitely been in a holiday mood - I am guilty of being one of those dreaded people who loves Christmas music.  Justin suggested a song from Bad Religion's Christmas Songs, but I couldn't decide on one.  And Christmas only comes one a year, so I thought I'd share a link to the whole album.  -jen

Time:  25-30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  about 2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, 1/4" slices (on the thin side)
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8oz finely shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika 
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2-3/4 cup finely chopped almonds
In a large skillet over a low heat, melt butter and add olive oil.  Add sliced onions and let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Onions will be soft, dark and sweet.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a food processor (or with a fork), combine cream cheese, shredded Swiss, mayonnaise, paprika, a pinch of salt and a few cranks of fresh ground pepper; blend until creamy and smooth.  Add caramelized onions and pulse (or fork) until combined.  Fold in chopped almonds by hand.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Serve chilled or slightly softened to room temp.

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