The Dish that Made My French Mother Fall In Love with Cream Cheese

Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. This one comes from longtime community member AlainB, who shares a recipe starring his mother’s favorite ingredient: cream cheese.

Don't forget the butter! Or the salt!
Don’t forget the butter! Or the salt!
Photo by James Ransom

My mom has French origins and always cooks in typical French style, but for some reason when she came to this country over 50 years ago, she fell in love with American cream cheese. It’s probably the only processed food she has in her kitchen, even today. She continues to pooh-pooh anything not French… except cream cheese.

I asked my mom what she considers her best recipe, and she said Leak Filo—which she had just made a week earlier for the first time. What!? The best? “Oui! My meilleure recette!”

I tried it, and it was very good. But I still prefer the classic with spinach. I grew up with this dish, and the cheese is the best part. Every time my mom would make it, we’d say, “Oh wow, this time it’s really the best you ever made it. What did you put in?” And she would say whatever cheese she had happened to throw in. Literally every time.

My mom’s recipes are notoriously difficult to pin down, as she changes them constantly and isn’t even sure what she puts in. You can make this with leeks instead of spinach, or mushrooms and onions, or even just cheese.

Some advice: I’ve tried making this with goat cheese (French!) instead of cream cheese, but it just doesn’t come out the same. And make sure to squeeze the living daylights out of the spinach. You don’t want this watery. Finally, don’t skimp on the butter. Put the melted butter and salt between each layer.

Recently, my college-aged daughter moved into an apartment, and decided she suddenly likes to cook (although she never did while at home…). She always calls me for the recipe, and the last time she made it, she sent me a photo of her masterpiece.

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Violette’s Spinach Fillo

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Serves 8
  • 1

    packet Fillo Pastery, frozen

  • 2

    packets frozen Chopped Spinach, 10 oz each

  • 4

    ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese

  • 1 1/2

    cups shredded Emmantaler cheese (Swiss or French!)

  • 2


  • 4

    tablespoons butter

  • 1

    tablespoon olive oil

  • 1

    handful sesame seeds

Go to Recipe

Do you have a recipe that’s been passed down in your family? Or one you want to make sure your future generations make? Let us know in the comments and it might be featured as one of our heirloom recipes!

(via Food52)

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