Do you ever notice after eating cucumber, that you suddenly feel stronger physically, wiser morally, more imaginative and lyrical, intellectually? Well, you are in good company, for the cucumber loaned all these attributes to Solomon, Samson, and David.
Cucumber Cures Grumpiness
The cucumber is born of an ancient vegetable, a member of the family “curcubitacae”. It has its origins in India, and it made its way to Galilee, where Solomon and company feasted on its pale green crispness. As most foods do, it eventually arrived in what would become Europe. In the 18th century, the cucumber became a favorite of Louis XIV, thanks to his ever-curious gardener at Versailles, the amazing Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinie, So what did the cucumber do for the Sun King? According to very good sources, it put him in a good mood after winter’s grumpiness.
A Big Wow
Now that you understand the not-so-humble cucumber, you’ll notice that here we’ve made it the star of a truly dressed up appetizer. When you make this be prepared: it will wow everyone who sees it, then silence everyone who tastes it because they’ll be so busy finishing it up. It is simply pureed cucumber that drains for awhile, then is topped with seasoned fresh cheese called fromage blanc. If you cannot find fromage blanc, you can simply use thick Greek yogurt as a substitute.
Drink the Juice
The seasoned cheese is called “cervelles de canut”, which literally translates as “the brains of the silk worker.” It is from the silk weaving capitol of France, Lyon, and got its name from the plate of seasoned cheese the silk workers ate because they couldn’t afford the local specialty of lamb’s brain. Whatever it is called, it’s delicious atop the cucumber puree. And there is another benefit to making this little wonder: the juice that drains from the cucumber is delicious as a base for a cocktail, or simply to drink!
I predict this will become one of your favorite appetizers. Remember: a garden cucumber will give it more flavor; a pretty glass will make it even better! Bon Appétit!
CUCUMBER PUREE WITH HERBED FRESH CHEESE - CERVELLE DE CANUT, CONCOMBRE EN PUREE
- 2 long European cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1-3/4 cups;435ml fromage blanc or Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch chives
- Purée the cucumbers in a food processor. Transfer the purée to a sieve and set the sieve over a bowl. Chill for at least 1 hour.
- Whisk the fresh cheese until it becomes slightly light. Whisk in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mince the chives and fold them into the fresh cheese. Correct the seasoning and reserve until you are ready to serve.
- To serve, discard (but reserve - it is delicious to drink!) the juice that has drained from the cucumber purée. Whisk in a pinch or two of salt to the cucumber, to taste, then evenly divide it among 8 small glasses. Top with an equal amount of the seasoned cheese, being very careful to spread the cheese in an even layer. Garnish each serving with a chive, and serve immediately.