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About Bagels -- Spreads 2
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Refrigeration is the best storage for cheese. However, if you have more cheese than can be used before the fershness date stamped on the package, the following guidelliines are suggested:

1. Do not freeze cream cheeze that you want to use for spreading, because there will be a texture change. Regular brick cream cheese can be frozen for up to two months for use as an ingredient in recipes. Thaw in the refrigerator for approximately 12 hours or overnight.

2. Whipped cream cheese may be frozen for up to 6 months and still retain an acceptable quality fro spreading.

3. Soft cream cheese, light cream cheese, fat-free cream cheese and Neufchatel cheese should not be frozen.

Softening And Serving Cream Cheese

Warm a brick of cheese to room temperature, cut it inot chunks and mash it with a fork. Add up to 5 teaspoons of milk, cream, yogurt or other liquid, a little at a time, and whip with a food proessor, blender, hand mixer, wire whisk or fork until smooth, creamy and of a spreading consostency.

The following recipes are for an 8-ounce package of cheese and about 5 teaspoons of milk or other liquid ingrendient.

For serving, plan on 1 ounce of cream cheese for topping each bagle half. An 8-ounce package of cream cheese, sliced into rectangles, will yield enough for 8 half-bagels, or about 4 servings.

Cream cheese is also available in a 3-pound brick, which is more economical than the 8-ounce size when preparing large quantities. Soften by cutting into smaller pieces and warm at room temperature for about an hour or set in the microwave on Medium for 30 seconds or util softened. Use a commercial mixer, if available. Or blend small portions at a time with a food processor, mixer or blender.

If you're watching calories, substitute any of the lower calorie, low fat cheese products including nonfat yogurt, sour cream, ricotta cheese, or even applesauce and apple butter for regular cream cheese.

Cream cheese spreads flavored with fruits are as popular as bagels with fruits added. Serve the fruity spreads at breakfast, and for a snack any time of the day. Mix fruit with the cheese according to the recipes. Or spread your bagel with cream cheese, butter, jelly, jam or lemon curd and topw ith sliced or mashed fruit.

When spreads have been refirgerated to blend flavors, allow them to return to room temperature before serving, so they will be of spreading consistency.

The Best Bagels Are Made At Home by Dona Z. Meilach Isbn 1-55867-131-5

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