Friday, March 21, 2014

Ever - Variable Cooking Creme (and a cookbook #giveaway!)

My family is going through a "mock-rosé sauce" phase. It probably started due to an overabundance of homemade ricotta in the fridge, which my mom started adding to every pasta dish for a bit of variety and tang, but when the homemade stash ran out the cravings were still there. My mom, being the main cook and grocery shopper, started buying tubs of processed ricotta as a substitute, but she kept complaining that they were a) expensive for how fast they went through them, b) they disappeared too fast (my stepfamily would gob it on their toast in the morning) and c) the storebought didn't have the same fresh tang as my standard recipe. Normally, I'd be more than happy to whip up a batch, but knowing that I probably wouldn't have time this week (darn that schoolwork) I suggested something I had heard about online but not tried yet - Cooking Creme.

It sounded like the perfect option for our on-the-go family: a semi-pourable creamy cheese designed for cooking, and I assumed it was just that - super soft cheese. When I checked it out at the store, though, I was balked as much by the host of non-foodlike ingredients as by the price tag. Over $5 for a teeny container of mostly unpronounceable chemicals? Come on. Then I saw a recipe on Finding Joy in My Kitchen to make you own - two ingredients, purely customizable, and cheap compared to the manufactured version.

Ever - Variable Cooking Creme

I did have to make changes to that recipe, though. The original used chicken stock as the cooking medium, which to me seemed too salty (even using a low sodium version) and definitely lacked the tartness my mom was looking for in her dairy addition. I considered yoghurt, but nixed it when I realized it might curdle too quickly. Then it hit me - buttermilk. Naturally thick, tangy, and perfect for melting with the cream cheese, it's also plain enough that the herbs and garlic I added could be tasted without any off flavours. A short time later I had a good-sized container of my concoction mixed up and chilling in the fridge, perfectly ready by the time dinner was in the works. A couple spoonfuls added to the pot of marinara sauce added the perfect amount of creaminess for a weeknight pasta supper, and the fact that it keeps so well has earned it a spot in our condiment rotation.

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Ever - Variable Cooking Creme
Makes about 1 1/4 cups, 8 (2 1/2 tbsp) servings
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese (I used an all natural, low-fat kind), cut into pieces and softened
1/2 cup buttermilk
pinch salt
up to 1 tbsp dried herbs and spices (optional, see Tips)
  1. Combine the ingredients in a small saucepot over medium-low heat. 
  2. Cook, stirring, until melted and smooth (you may need a touch more buttermilk for consistency, I found 1/2 cup was perfect). 
  3. Stir in flavourings, if desired. 
  4. This will keep in the fridge for as long as the buttermilk's shelf life.
Flavour options: 
Italian: 1 tsp oregano + 1 tsp basil + ½ tsp garlic powder + ½ tsp parsley
Southwest: ½ tbsp taco seasoning + 2 sundried tomatoes, minced
Roasted Garlic: 6 cloves roasted garlic, pureed
Greek: ½ tbsp dried dill, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp lemon zest

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 70.2
Total Fat: 5.0 g
Cholesterol: 16.2 mg
Sodium: 117.6 mg
Total Carbs: 2.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 3.4 g

Now onto the GIVEAWAY! You know how much I love making my own condiments and sauces, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of Homemade Condiments: Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural Ingredients to review on Reading, Writing and Cooking. Now it's your chance to turn your kitchen into a gourmet pantry! Enter below - open to US and Canadian readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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