Sunday, May 23, 2010

Birthday boursin

I've been slow to post again this week because I've been having a birthday, with more than one celebration involving different groups of people. One of the things I made to give them was  - no, sorry, not a Ken cake - a boursin. It's a savoury cream cheese that my French friend Diane taught me how to make, but she says the recipe must be credited to her friend Thérèse, of Arras. You need to make it the day before you want to serve it. And you need to use proper cream cheese - Diane says Philadelphia works best - not "lite" or spreadable.

300g cream cheese, cut into small cubes
30g chilled butter, cubed
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A good pinch of "gros sel" - ideally this should be imported Limousin salt, but I have to admit (sorry, Diane) that I use ordinary rock salt
salt and black pepper, to taste
pepper steak seasoning (Masterfoods) - enough to go in the cheese and also coat the outside
fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)

Put the cream cheese, butter, chives if you're using them, and seasonings, including a good shake of the pepper steak seasoning, into a bowl large enough to use a potato masher in. Carefully and patiently mash everything together until it's all well blended.

Shape the mixture gently into a round about 6 cm high and 9 cm in diameter, with a flat upright edge and flat top and bottom (like a thick slice from a cylinder). (Diane said mine needed to be a bit higher and not as wide across.) Cover a flat plate with pepper steak seasoning. Starting with the side of the round, carefully roll the cheese in it to coat it evenly all over. Refrigerate overnight. Take out of the fridge an hour before serving.

I serve this with either little bits of toast or very plain crackers. It's salty, garlicky, peppery - delicious. Have a look at Harvey's latest blog post, "Taste Buds" - it's all about food too, including some of the other things we ate for my birthday.

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