Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Southern Benedictine: Creamy Cucumber Spread

(Printable Recipe)

Benedictine is the creamy cucumber spread, a true southern original, served at many an afternoon tea and still present on luncheon menus as Benedictine Sandwich throughout the south. This is the original method for making it, with one exception. No green food coloring. You can add it if you like, but I must decline. That pale fake green sends a flavor signal to my mind that flashes I'm Minty, I'm Minty, and I probably don't have to tell you that my palate doesn't want to embark on a voyage that marries mint, cream, and cucumber.
I will not judge you, however, if you generously spread this delicious filling upon white bread with its crusts trimmed away. There be no disparaging remarks about the complete lack of nutritional virtue in that bread, for this is the one time it has a place. Now let us begin quickly, lest I slip into rhyming verse recounting my sweet memories of summer lunches in the Orchid Room on Louisville's Fourth Street of yesteryear.

Our ingredients are only three: cream cheese, onion, and cucumber.

I have used an English cucumber here but a garden cucumber lends more flavor and is recommended. Vidalia onion in my opinion is the ONLY onion suitable. That means you will be confined to making this in summer, which is only appropriate anyway.

Give the cream cheese about a minute on half power in the microwave if it is not already at room temp when you start.

We are only going to use the juice of the two vegetables in keeping with the authenticity of our dish. The quickest way to get the amount needed is by grating to a fine shred over a bowl. Please disregard the terribly gaudy orange nail polish. It was too dark in the den when I was painting those nails to see how bad they looked.

 There should be more than enough juice from just the one cucumber. Leaving the peel intact results in a rich green juice that will naturally (and only slightly) tint the cream cheese.

Press to extract all the juice and discard the pulp.

Now, for the onion. If you've gone willy-nilly into the produce department and grabbed any old onion, prepare to cry. The elegant Vidalia, however, will allow you to retain your dignity as it invokes no tears. And yet gives forth the abundance of juice you now seek.

3 Tablespoons of Cucumber Juice, 1 Tablespoon Onion Juice

And add the softened cream cheese, whisking all together.

Add salt and pepper to taste. No other seasonings are needed.
And yet, you  may gild the lily a bit with some fresh dill and chives
if you choose.
Finally, the taste test: A finger dollop will do, or a slice of cucumbre, or a dainty triangle of white bread. Whichever you choose, do enjoy with a sip of sweet iced tea.

1 Onion
1 Large Cucumber
8 oz Cream Cheese

SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's cucumbers. Check out these delicious ideas:

1 comment:

  1. Three ingredients used in the best way equals perfection! I agree with you regarding the green food coloring


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