[Fresh Cheese and Cilantro Dip]
Last Saturday we organized a little impromptu dinner party at our place with our dear neighbor-friends Stéphan and Patricia, and our new neighbor-friends Ligiana and Peter. Ah yes! Didn’t I tell you? We have new neighbors! They moved in a few weeks ago and now occupy the apartment just to the left of ours. A little welcome note slipped under their door, an invitation to join us for drinks and nibbles, and voilà! new neighbor-friends. They are both singers of ancient music, she is from Brasil, he is half-Italian half-Scottish, he loves to cook, she loves to eat — really, we couldn’t have found a better match had we conducted interviews.
For that dinner, while Stéphan prepared a glorious loubia tajine (a white bean tajine), a couscous douceur (“sweetness couscous”, with prunes, dried apricots and almonds) and braised beef, I took care of the appetizer and dessert. I wanted to keep those nice and light since I had an inkling of the Moroccan feast Stéphan was putting together for us. I also had very little time to devote to the preparation since we were out running errands all afternoon, so I opted for two super-easy, super-quick recipes.
The appetizer, which was in fact whipped up just as our guests were arriving and Maxence was serving drinks, was a simple dip made with fresh cheese (I am partial to the plain Recettes de Madame Loïk made with salt from Guérande, of which we consume alarming amounts) and a hefty dose of chopped cilantro, served with sticks of cucumber — a small and knobbly variety that my produce seller calls concombre du jardin.
A typical back-to-basics example of just taking good products and assembling them in the simplest of ways, to deliciously fresh results.
Dip Fromage Frais Coriandre
– 1/2 C fresh cheese (I use the Recettes de Madame Loïk kind but you can substitute cream cheese, Saint-Morêt or another type of fresh cheese)
– small bouquet of cilantro (coriander in British English), about 25 stems (if cilantro tastes soapy to you, you can use flat-leaf parsley)
– a dash of olive oil
– freshly-ground pepper, to taste
– salt (may not be necessary if the cheese is already salted)
– 2 small cucumbers or one large
Rinse and dry the cilantro. Pluck the leaves and chop them roughly. In a small mixing-bowl, combine the fresh cheese, cilantro, olive oil and pepper, and mix with a fork until thoroughly blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a little more oil if necessary to reach the desired smoothness.
Rinse, dry, quarter and de-seed the cucumbers; cut in sticks.
Serve the fresh cheese and cilantro dip with the cucumber sticks and optionally, fingers of fresh, crusty country bread.