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French Fridays with Dorie: Cook’s Choice

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. We did. It was a sort of progressive Thanksgiving, dinner and dessert #1 with Howard’s aunt, uncle, and cousin, followed by dessert #2 with our friends next-door. I made this cranberry sauce recipe to bring to dinner and made a pumpkin cake for dessert with the neighbors.

For French Fridays with Dorie this week, Laurie made it “Cook’s Choice”. This cook chose the Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese, subtitled Boursin’s mama by Dorie, on pages 20-21 of Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. This was supposed to be a pre-Thanskgiving snack, but I didn’t have time to make it until today, so it was the appetizer for our post-Thanksgiving turkey enchiladas.

Ingredients were promising: ricotta cheese, chopped shallot, minced garlic, fresh herbs, olive oil, and a smidge of vinegar. The ricotta drains overnight to thicken it up before gently folding in the other ingredients, then letting it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Miraculously, herbs are still growing in my herb garden. I never would have expected to be able to use my own herbs on November 25. We haven’t really had a hard frost yet. The parsley is still going strong, and the chives and chervil must think it is spring because there is new growth.

I really wanted to like this cheese spread, and I might like it better another time with some tweaks. The garlic and shallot flavors weren’t as strong as I expected, and I even added an extra clove of garlic. The cheese tasted mostly of the fresh cheese, not of the aromatics I added. I tried adding more salt, but it still didn’t boost the flavors quite enough. If I try this again, I would double the amount of both the garlic and shallot that I used, maybe the herbs too.

I served the cheese along with black olive tapenade with baguette toasts. Howard experimented by spreading a layer of tapenade on the toast and topped it with the cheese spread which turned out to be a winner idea. The combination of both spreads in each bite made up for the blandness of the cheese spread.

(Update on Sunday: The cheese spread has really improved the longer it sits. Initially, it sat about 4 hours, after which I found it bland. Both yesterday and today, I spread this on toast for breakfast and with a little sprinkle of salt on top, it was perfect. I’m no longer disappointed.)

I’m looking forward to reading the other Dorista’s posts this week because each cook chose their own Dorie recipe. It will give me a preview of other recipes from the book that I haven’t tried yet. If you’re interested you can find those links here.