Planet Cheese is a weekly blog devoted to everything cheese: products, people, places, news, and views. James Beard Award–winning journalist Janet Fletcher writes Planet Cheese from her home in Napa Valley. Janet is the author of Cheese & Wine, Cheese & Beer, and The Cheese Course and an occasional contributor to culture. Visit janetfletcher.com to sign up for Planet Cheese and view Janet’s current schedule of cheese appreciation classes.
Did you know everything-bagel seasoning was a thing? Me neither. But then I learned about a fresh sheep cheese spiked with it, and the cheesemaker told me she can’t make the spread fast enough. But of course. We love cream cheese on everything bagels. What if we just ditched the bagel?
“I really like bagels,” says Anna Thomas Bates, one of the two partners in Wisconsin’s Landmark Creamery. “But we only have one place in Madison that makes bagels I like, and I don’t get there very often. l was thinking of how to make a fresh sheep cheese spread that would be great on a bagel, and I thought, I’ll put everything that’s on an everything bagel right into the spread. Then even if I don’t have a good bagel, I have the flavor of one.”
Bates started selling the everything-bagel spread at the Westside Community Market in Madison at the end of May. She was planning to bring different spreads each week for customer feedback before she decided which flavors to put into production. But the people have spoken. The everything-bagel recipe has been “wildly popular,” says Bates. “It’s the one I have to make repeatedly.”
The foundation is Landmark Creamery’s tangy fresh sheep cheese, typically just a couple of days old. Bates was reluctant to share her exact proportions because she hopes to package the spread for distribution. No matter: you should season it to your taste anyway.
For my first attempt, I went all snooty and used fresh garlic and some fancy dried shallots. Forget that. It just doesn’t taste right. That authentic “everything” flavor derives, in large part, from dried onion and garlic, so go with it. Caraway is optional. Bates uses it, but Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend does not.
“Everything Bagel” Cheese Spread
Use a fresh, light-textured cheese with no rind, such as fromage blanc, farmer’s cheese, ricotta, or natural cream cheese. You can fold the seasoning mix into the cheese or shower it on top. Use as a spread for cucumbers, radishes or rye bread, or as a sandwich spread with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and sprouts.
¼ teaspoon poppy seeds
¼ teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
¼ teaspoon black sesame seeds
¼ teaspoon dried onion flakes (not powder)
¼ teaspoon dried garlic flakes (not powder)
1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/8 teaspoon sea salt flakes
4 ounces fresh sheep, goat or cow cheese
Extra virgin olive oil, optional
In a small bowl, combine the seasoning mix ingredients. Fold the seasoning mix into the cheese, using as much as you like. Alternatively, sprinkle the mix on top, then drizzle with olive oil.
Serves 3 to 4