Sunday, March 30, 2008

Leftover Fresh Herbs --

Those leftover fresh herbs you paid a fortune for from the grocery store? Or the huge bunches of flat leaf parsley or cilantro stuck in the fridge after making a recipe? Searching for "leftover herbs" and recipes gets you a bunch of soups and omelets, but what about those strong herbs that don't play well with bouquet garni? Or the fact that you're not planning a soup anytime soon? Any given day, I have leftover tarragon, cilantro, or dill -- not really a combination that works all mixed together.

These days, I'm loving the ability of good cream cheeses or fromage blanc to take on strong flavors. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the fresh cheese -- similar to ricotta -- from Trader's Point and goat cheese (as noted in the article) can work. But for an easy cocktail party snack, simple cream cheese can work wonders. Taking a page from Steve Jenkin's Fromage Fort concept, I've started playing with "leftover herbs" -- or Herbes Fort. And I'm finding, the more the better! Here's my current incantation of the idea:

1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1-2 cups leftover herbs (chopped fine)
1-2 cloves garlic
tiny squeeze of lemon or lime juice
EVOO if needed

Let cream cheese come up to room temperature. Wash and dry herbs, then pulse in food processor with garlic. Add mixture to cream cheese, along with just enough lemon/lime to loosen it up. (Lime is great with cilantro! Lemon with dill!) You can experiment by adding a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (good with the more traditional mixture), pine nuts (good with basil, cilantro or dill), or even pecans. A little honey is nice with a rosemary/lavender mixture or with fennel. Add olive oil as necessary to smooth out the whole mixture. Meld overnight in the fridge. Serve with thiny sliced salumi of choice.

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