Every year for the month of December I post a holiday menu centered around a particular theme. Last year was an ode to seafood, which was a celebration of my maritimer roots. This year I’ve decided to look back once again but in a more personal way. This year’s theme is nostalgia. And no, that doesn’t mean I’ll be posting a turkey with all the trimmings, not that there’s anything wrong with that. When I say nostalgia I mean personal nostalgia. Dishes from my past holidays were either memorable one-offs or treats enshrined in family rituals. But of course, this wouldn’t be Rhubarb and Cod if they were faithful recreations. Expect twists galore as always. First up is this Jalapeño Cold Pack with Onion Bagel Chips.
When I was growing up MacLaren’s Imperial Sharp Cold Pack Cheddar was a mainstay in our holiday fridge. We called it cold pack for short. I loved smearing the stuff on a cream cracker with pickles. It wasn’t until I was older that I actually wondered what it was. Apparently, cold-pack cheese is a cheese spread made from natural cheese without the use of heat. It’s very similar to the British potted cheese and the delightfully retro cheese ball.
Cold pack cheese, also known as club cheese or crock cheese, is the invention of a Wisconsin tavern owner. Or at least that’s the story floating around the Internet. You never can tell when it comes to food history particularly when it pertains to the origins of one particular dish. Cold pack is typically made with cheddar and/or Swiss but it can be made with any cheese you have on hand.
As for mix-ins, classic additions include horseradish, chopped nuts, spices, and herbs. Some people add beer and wine to the mix. The process for making cold pack is surprisingly simple. All you have to do is crumble your chosen cheeses into a food processor, add your mix-ins, and blitz until smooth. It’s helpful to use one soft cheese to bind everything together. But if you don’t have a soft cheese on hand, use softened butter instead.
This Jalapeño Cold Pack is made from red Leicester, double Gloucester, and goat cheese. The mix-ins are fresh garlic, parsley, prepared horseradish, mustard, and of course, jalapeño. If you’re making your cold pack for longevity, I would advise against adding fresh ingredients to the spread. Instead opt for powdered garlic, dried parsley, and dried mustard. You can inject a little heat by adding cayenne and the prepared horseradish. Horseradish works in any cold pack in any instance.
There is one last ingredient in this Jalapeño Cold Pack and that’s heavy cream. I streamed in a little cream at the end to bring my finished spread to the desired consistency. If you’d rather not use cream you could use Madeira or port instead. Beer is typical of a classic cold pack. While the port and Madeira bring you closer to potted cheese territory.
Why would you go through the trouble of making cold pack when there are plenty of delicious intact cheeses in the world? It’s a solid question. What I love about cold packs is it can coexist with a bougie cheese board. You know when you have guests by and you serve a cheese board and nobody wants to be the person who finishes any of the cheeses? So at the end of the night, you’re left with little bits of nice cheese that are too small to do much with. That’s where cold pack comes in.
You can make cold pack with whatever cheese you have leftover. And beyond serving cold pack to guests or yourself during a Netflix Boxing Day binge, cold pack also makes a great homemade hostess gift. And I don’t know about you, but for me, cheese trumps flowers every time.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Jalapeño Cold Pack with Onion Bagel Chips. This is considered peak snacking in my household particularly when pickles are nearby. So give it a shot. You might just hit upon a brand new holiday tradition.
Jalapeño Cold Pack with Onion Bagel Chips
- 1 Food Processor
- 2 Large Baking Sheets
Onion Bagel Chips
- 4 onion bagels **
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Jalapeño Cold Pack
- 1 jalapeño deseeded
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup fresh parsley tightly packed
- 100g (3.5 oz) Red Leicester *** crumbled
- 100g (3.5 oz) Double Glouchester crumbled
- 1 tbsp prepared horseradish heaping
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard heaping
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 150g (5 oz) goat cheese
- 4 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 Granny Smith apple thinly sliced
- ½ pint golden berries
- ¼ cup whole grain Dijon mustard
- ½ cup cornichon
For the Bagel Chips
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with either silicone mats or parchment paper. Set them aside.
- Slice the bagels thinly and arrange the slices on the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle the chips with the olive oil and sprinkle them with salt.4 onion bagels **, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp kosher salt
- Transfer the chips to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Set them aside to cool.
For the Cold Pack
- While the bagel chips are cooling, place the garlic, parsley, and jalapeño in a large food processor. Blitz until it resembles mulch.1 jalapeño, 1 clove garlic, ¼ cup fresh parsley
- Add the Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, horseradish, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce to the food processor and blitz until the cheese is broken down into fine pieces.100g (3.5 oz) Red Leicester ***, 100g (3.5 oz) Double Glouchester, 1 tbsp prepared horseradish, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Set the food processor on low and add the goat cheese about a teaspoon at a time. Finally, slowly stream in enough cream to get the cold pack to the consistency you want. I used four tablespoons.150g (5 oz) goat cheese, 4 tbsp heavy cream
- Spoon the cold pack into jars or ramekins and swirl the top. Serve the cold pack alongside the cooled bagel chips, granny smith slices, additional mustard, pickles, golden berries, and pretzel buns. ****1 Granny Smith apple, ½ pint golden berries, ¼ cup whole grain Dijon mustard, ½ cup cornichon