July’s End Dinner Party, Part the second
In addition to the heavenly Gelato, I made a little appetizer for my friends.
I’ve long been on a quest to educate my Yankee friends in the ways of Southern food (I realize this is a bit rich coming from someone who hails from a Northern State, but hey, it’s the Southern end and I grew up eating family recipes from Kentucky, so there.). I’ve made attempts with my mom’s chili recipe (which cannot be eaten with a fork and does not resemble the tex-mex mess they serve around here), her famous orange-pineapple fluff, biscuits and gravy (pearls before swine, as Danny would say), and so forth.This time, determined to hit one out of the park, I settled on whipping up some Benedictine, which is a venerable old Kentucky Derby recipe. I admit, I hadn’t had this divine goop until a couple years ago but it may be the Prime Reason I got a food processor. Googling around looking for a recipe, I found that there are MANY different variations (benedictine sandwiches served on buttermilk biscuits, benedictine with food coloring, baked benedictine…), but I wanted the stuff I’ve been dreaming of. So, I went to the source and got my mom’s “recipe.”
What you need to know about my mother is, 1. She is The Best Cook In The World and 2. She is Not the Kind of Cook Who Writes Precise Recipes. The latter may sound frustrating to some, but I like the flexibility it gives me to tweak things how I like them. (You’ll see in this Recipe Suggestion that she anticipated my tweakings and preemptively shot them down. I guess she knows me.)
With no further ado, here’s my mom’s Recipe for Benedictine. Make a double batch. You’ll thank me after you polish of the first box of crackers and are heading to the store for more.
“I peel, and seed English cucumbers and shred those in the food processor—then place them in a kitchen towel and squeeze the heck out of them to get them as dry as possible—this is really an important step. I also grate a small mild onion with the cucumbers in the food processor and squeeze them along with the cucumbers.Once the cucumber-onion mix is DRY combine that with softened cream cheese and 1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise. You can do all of that in the food processor—salt to taste—and it really does need salt. Do not be tempted to omit the mayonnaise (because I know you don’t like it!) because it is important for the texture. Quantities of everything just depend on how much you want to make. For 2 cucumbers and 1 small onion—I use 2- 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of mayo. But you can adjust any of that to your taste preference and consistency preference.”
**Note: I did depart from this and add a couple dollops of Sour Cream after seeing a number of recipes did call for it in order to make the benedictine more dippy and less spready. And anyway, how could a little sour cream hurt any dish? (It didn’t.)