whipped cheese peas dish

English peas with cremini mushrooms, cipollini onions, Nodine bacon from Connecticut, pickled fresno peppers and herbs lay on house made cheese whipped with olive oil at Spero.

Meet whipped cheese

Firm cheeses are challenging to schmear on toast. And woe to the vegetable lover who tries to dip her celery stick in a block of feta. But blending cheese with heavy cream, cream cheese or yogurt, usually in a food processor, produces a soft, malleable spread that’s good for all kinds of things.

Salty, tangy goat cheeses are popular starting points for whipping projects, but as whipped cheese becomes a restaurant fixture, more chefs are experimenting with localized adaptations: Parade Magazine last month featured Churchill Downs’ recipe for whipped charred onion pimento cheese.

Learn its backstory

Whipped cheese isn’t just a spread: It’s a symbol. “How can they whip cheese?” Willy Loman asks in Arthur Miller’s "Death of a Salesman." According to scholars of the play (and authors of high school term papers), Loman’s question about the “American-type cheese” on the middle shelf is really his way of expressing dismay about beaten-down dreams.

Metaphors aside, Loman wasn’t wondering about the kind of whipped cheese that graces the menus at Butcher & Bee and Poogan’s Porch. “Whipped cheese” recipes calling for shredded Cheddar and margarine occasionally turned up in 1950s newspaper columns about baked potatoes, published a few years after "Death of a Salesman" was written. And during that same era, Kraft was keen to suggest “whipped cheese,” meaning Philadelphia Cream Cheese mixed with milk, as a waffle topping.

Still, Loman’s wife had probably purchased “cheese whip,” a 1940s sandwich filling made from American cheese, eggs and butter.

And order it here

Spero, 616 Meeting St., sperocharleston.com, 843-203-3255 (English peas with Cipollini onions, bacon, mushrooms and whipped cheese, $7.50 or braised beef with whipped blue cheese, $10)

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

Food editor and chief critic

Eating all of the chicken livers just as fast as I can.