Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fake Fake-Fancy Fake-French Fromage



I am kind of agnostic when it comes to cheese. Or maybe polytheistic. Overall, I love it. All the basics, like cheddar, blue cheese, Monterey Jack, parmesan, mozzarella, feta. And then some of those lovely, expensive cheeses that I seek out at parties or splurge on for holidays (Humboldt Fog, say, or a beautiful piece of aged gouda). But then there are some difficult, complicated cheeses that I wish I liked—given that I like pretty much everything—but I don’t. Maybe there’s a pee smell or a barn smell, or the rind tastes kind of like moldy oven cleaner, and I want to understand it, I do. But I am too busy choking on the ammonia fumes or glugging from my glass of wine to wash away the goat's-asscrack aftertaste. I even, I admit, would twitch my nose and bewitch the rind off of plain old brie if I could. But I eat it because I am too polite to scrape the good gooey middle out and leave behind the emptily sagging white outside, like some people do (cough *Dad* cough).

Cabot makes my favorite cheddar and Monterey Jack, but I don't actually love their yogurt. I can't remember how we ended up with it.
There are also some kinds of grody cheeses that I crave secretly, like Velveeta microwaved with salsa, which I will eat all of, down to the scraping up of the dregs of waxy cooling cheese with my thumbnail once all the chips are gone. Boursin, which is a garlicky, creamy cheese spread that is “French,” in quotes, even though it really is from France, is kind of in the middle. I tasted it for the first time as a teenager at a friend’s house, and died a little from my own sophistication. I’ve eaten it only occasionally as an adult, though, because it is actually insanely expensive ($7 for 5 ounces!). But I still love it, and the kids love it (we ate it in Quebec), and I figured it wouldn’t be that hard to recreate. And you know what? It’s not! I’m making it all the time right now. The only trick is to use garlic powder. That’s what gives it its special fake-fancy flavor. Seriously. And you’ll notice that it’s creamy but not, like the real kind is, simultaneously creamy and crumbly. But I can live with that.

 

Boursin-style Cheese Spread
It’s quite possible that you’re going to think to yourself, “Oooh, this would be so much better with…” fresh garlic say, or fresh herbs, or rosemary, and I say: Go for it. Because that means you don’t actually want it to taste like fake fake-fancy fake-French cheese, and that’s a perfectly reasonable way to feel.

4 ounces cream cheese or, ideally, Neufchatel (which is less gummy), softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon garlic powder
large pinch each dried marjoram and dried thyme (or one or the other)
Black pepper

Use a standing mixer fitted with the paddle (or else a food processor or a wooden spoon and strong biceps) to beat together the cream cheese and butter until completely whipped and amalgamated. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste and add more of anything you think it needs. Serve with bread or crackers.

49 comments:

  1. Try topping a croissant with some of your spread (or Boursin) and then broiling it just until golden brown and melty. One of my favorite snacks.

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  2. and I am so relieved you did NOT skip even one post without a "turdlike"and "pee smell" reference! Yippee! ;-)

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  3. Yum! My mom mixes pureed roasted red peppers with the Neufchatel and it makes fake fake-fancy pimento spread. Which, I'm a little embarrassed to say, I love. I'll try the fake Boursin right away!

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  4. We get raw milk every week from a local dairy which is super wonderful except for some phenomenon right at the start of spring which makes it temporarily taste faintly of pus and manure, which is just my way of saying I get what you're saying about goat asscrack and I love your writing, as usual.

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    1. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

      pus.

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    2. Anonymous11:11 AM

      Please read what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say about consuming raw milk:
      http://www.cdc.gov/Features/RawMilk/

      Drinking milk that is not pasteurized is simply not worth the risk and is actually quite disgusting. And please, please, please do not give it to your kids! Look for milk that is hormone-free, but make sure it is pasteurized!

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    3. Hey, hey! Anonymous! Please respect other people's choices. The CDC does not have the last word on raw milk. Lots of people feel like it's healthier and, if carefully produced (which milk should be anyway, but isn't always) totally safe. It is a controversial issue that people are making their own choices about. "quite disgusting" really bugged me here.

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    4. Anonymous12:15 PM

      Catherine,
      The only reason why I responded to "6512 and growing" is that I felt a responsibility to warn people about the dangers of consuming raw milk. Raw, unpasteurized milk can carry bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. People HAVE become sick from it, especially children. Pasteurization is merely a process by which the milk is heated to a temperature that kills these dangerous bacteria. I personally buy my milk from a local dairy because it is both hormone-free and antibiotic-free, but it is also pasteurized. All I'm saying is do your homework and be aware of the risks!

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    5. Thanks for responding. I think it's important to understand the risks but, given that it's difficult to get raw milk, I'm guessing people who do are being pretty deliberate about it.

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    6. Anonymous1:52 PM

      Raw milk is difficult to get because it is illegal to sell in many states. The reason why it is illegal is because it is dangerous to consume. I say buy organic milk, buy hormone-free milk, buy antibiotic-free milk. Buy the best milk you can get for your kids. But let's not "throw away the baby with the bath water." Pasteurization does not effect the nutritional value of the milk, it simply protects you from (potentially serious) illness.

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    7. dale in denver1:42 PM

      Anonymous - we get it. You have chosen not to consume raw milk. And, thanks to your feeling it was you "responsibility to warn people," we all know about the potential dangers (which we were all pretty familiar with anyway and haven't the slightest clue why you would have felt it was your responsibility to assume). And now we all know that YOU think we all should buy pasteurized because YOU think it is the "best milk you can get for your kids." Thank you SO MUCH for telling me what is right for me and my family. I don't know how I made it this far without you.

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    8. Anonymous3:27 PM

      OK, I get it. I should keep my mouth shut because everyone on here knows everything already. Thanks for letting me know. I just wish someone would have come back with WHY raw milk is better that pasteurized. That's the part that I don't get.

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    9. dale in denver2:01 PM

      Anonymous - You said your part. You warned people about the potential dangers. No problem. However, as Catherine pointed out, you stepped over the line calling it disgusting because that now sounds like a judgement against another individual's choice. Judging other parents' choices is counter productive, don't you think? We should be supporting each other. "Do your homework and beware of the risks," you said. Fine, Catherine said, but pointed out that folks are probably aware given how difficult it is to get. Instead of letting it go, you pile one with your judgement on what the best choice of milk product is for kids.

      No one is saying to keep your mouth shut. Your first post (minus the disgusting comment) was valid and quite enough. Know when enough is enough and shut it. If you want to know WHY raw milk is better, do a google search. There is a wealth of information out there on why folks want raw milk. No one should have to justify their choice by citing a desire to support local food production, sustainability, health benefits (real or placebo), or taste to you. This is the way milk was consumed for hundreds of years. This is the way I consumed milk as a child until the FDA interferred in 1987. The CDC has indicated that raw milk was "implicated" (not linked, but implicated meaning nothing was confirmed) in 104 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. Sounds ominous. Until you consider that was over an 8 year time span 1998-2005. That's 13 hospitalizations a year on average. That's par for the course with one spinach E. coli outbreak. Outbreaks have come from cookie dough, Totino's Pizza, beef/ground beef/beef patties, hazel nuts, bologna, clover sprouts. Add in samonella outbreaks from tomatoes, peanut butter, canteloupe, raw produce, wheat cereals, alfalfa sprouts, pistacios, frozen entree's, shell eggs, turkey, chicken, beef, and it is obvious that there are risks of contamination from most all of our food sources. At least with raw milk and the current regulations, it typically is not crossing state lines making it easier to track and isolate. It irks me that the individuals who are clearly health conscious and know a great deal about nutrition and the risks of raw milk are viewed with disdain. Please, anonymous, cut your losses here - save your judgements and desire for justifications of something that you don't agree with and move on. We are all doing the best we can for our own families with the knowledge and life experience that each of us has.

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    10. My goodness, Dale! And Anonymous: I think that writing anonymously kind of provokes people. Just a thought. xo

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    11. dale in denver11:27 AM

      I like reading 6512's blog, and while I may not subscribe to some of her family's choices, it doesn't mean they are wrong or "disgusting" - it just means they are not right for me and my family.

      Sorry for going a bit overboard, Anonymous and Catherine.

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    12. Not at all, my friend. I was just commenting on your passion. xo

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    13. Oh my, just seeing all these comments now.

      Isn't it cool to live in a country where you can make choices (and yes, legally!) about how to feed your own family.

      *wipes delicious raw milk cheese off lips*

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    14. Delicious provocation!

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    15. Anonymous2:11 PM

      Hi, "anonymous" here again. For the past week, I've struggled to understand why people would consume something potentially dangerous and why I received such angry reactions to my posts. The answer pretty much came to me in a fortune cookie: "You can either follow your fears or be led by your passions." Clearly, I'm a cautious person. I collect things to fear and raw milk was just one of them. I had no idea what a hot button issue it was. (Honestly.) I'm sorry to all I've offended and I respect you for following your passions if you'll respect me for being cautious. (Sorry, Catherine, I think I'll stay anonymous for now.)

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    16. Anonymous, thank you for following up! I think everyone here respects your caution. I'm sure if you'd written, "Wow, I am worried about raw milk for these reasons--tell me more about why you aren't" you wouldn't have felt that chilly breeze blow your way! And I'm sure you wish you had. Stick around, though. I'm not afraid of a little conflict, and I am grateful for the opportunity to hear different opinions. xo

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  5. lisdarl6:03 PM

    OMG the dreams I have about Humboldt Fog....

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    1. Anonymous10:13 AM

      I love how that this is the next comment in line. It reminds me of Homer Simpson. I mean that in a good way. "Mmmm...Humboldt Fog...." Makes me smile. --Cathy K

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    2. Me too--I swear, that exact thing, the Homer Simpson thing. xo

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  6. my mom used to make this for parties in the 80's. the recipe card called it "bogus boursin." I loved it.

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  7. Alison10:49 AM

    “the goat's-asscrack aftertaste” I burst out laughing at my desk. That is EXACTLY how I feel about goat cheese. I’ve tried to explain to people that Goat cheese tastes like a barn to me, but they just don’t get it. BTW, I though you and the kids liked goat cheese, Michael was the one who didn’t.
    Brie tip if you’re interested: Before I decided that I really did like the rind of brie, I would freeze it slightly then peel it with a vegetable peeler. I still do that when I make baked brie with caramelized onions and apples wrapped in puff pastry.
    This recipe sounds FANTASTIC, maybe I’ll make it for dinner tonight. My kids love snacks for dinner.

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  8. I'm pretty excited to try this, although I'm wondering if (Proust-like) I will instantly be transported back to a 1990s Boston Au Bon Pain, where I spent many dollars I did not have to waste on Boursin sandwiches.

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  9. I must try this! A friend used to buy Boursin and dump pesto over the top of it, served it with crackers, as the appetizer for the adults. We had to fight the kids for it. So, so good!
    And “the goat's-asscrack aftertaste” LOL Spit Diet Coke all over my monitor!

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  10. Carol1:12 PM

    I first read about Humboldt Fog on your blog a long time ago, and I recently found it in my local Whole Foods, so of course I had to try it. :) It was delicious! I wish I could afford to buy it frequently, but alas, it will have to remain a special treat.

    I am looking forward to trying this recipe, too. It sounds good. :)

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  11. We tried it as written, and it was duly and quickly gobbled up by kids and grownups alike. Thanks for the recipe! I grew up with Rondele (similar to Boursin) for special treats, and this takes me right back for fewer bucks!

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  13. My husband made this tonight for a dinner of appetizers. It was enjoyed by all. We'll definitely have it again. I don't want to eat brie rinds either, and I have eaten several cheeses that I feel I should appreciate but don't. Velveeta dip, no matter how sophisticated the rest of my menu seems, is still so yummy. Also, Tostitos cheese dip in the jar. I could eat that with a bag of Mission chips as my dinner. Yum!

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  14. Kathy9:06 AM

    LOVE this Catherine, as all your recipes! If you freeze it, then let it thaw, it gets that crumbly texture. We do that with the eggnog bars, too; then they have an even more cheesecakey texture.

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    1. May I also just say that my friend that owns the awesome bakery here in Charlotte, NC - Tizzerts - loved the eggnog bars when I brought them to our annual Gingerbread House Making (Mess) Party. She asked me for the recipe and now you are my hero. (tizzerts.com)

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  15. Since I work with raw milk turning it into cheese, I will say this. It's up to you to decide if you want to consume raw milk. When we pour it into our pasteurizing machine (145 degrees, for 30 minutes), we then pump it into cheese making vats. At the very bottom of the tank, there are often no-seeums, cow hair and other ephemera from the farm. We, as a practice at work, don't drink raw milk, but we know many who do.

    If you want to try a really, really nice hard cheese, find some of Upland Farms' Pleasant Ridge Reserve. It is outstanding (albeit, very expensive).

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    1. Wait, do you make that cheese? I am so going to try it!

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  16. I wish I made that cheese, Catherine! We make a Camembert style cheese, and a number of aged goat cheeses at CalyRoad. We're too small to produce a cheese like Pleasant Ridge.

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  17. Allyson8:21 PM

    Ok, I'm halfway through devouring my second batch of this cheese since you posted the recipe. Damn you, Catherine! (Shakes fist threateningly.) Ok, maybe my gluttony isn't entirely your fault. Maybe.

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    http://www.amazon.com/Improv-Sewing-Freeform-Techniques-Accessories/dp/1603427406/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359597019&sr=8-1&keywords=improv+sewing

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  19. I made this. It's great. It's nice and salty. I have a recommendation to just double it. Use the whole brick of cream cheese. I do not think anyone would mind having a lot on hand. I'm bringing some to the football game watching party.

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  20. Hey Everybody! Catherine's been nominated for one of Apartment Therapy's Homies- the one for Kid and Family Blog. Yay! Here's the link if you want to vote:

    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/best-family-kids-blog-the-homies-2013-183536

    That's my link, though, and I've already voted (for Catherine of course), so I hope it still works for you all. (-:

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  21. The fromage was a HUGE hit at our Super Bowl party last night. Tonight it's going to morph into a sauce for Chicken Breast with Veggies over pasta. A take on Shrimp/Boursin pasta from the Cheese Cellar in Pittsburgh forever ago.

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  22. Oh my, just discovered your blog, and haven't belly laughed this hard in awhile! The goat cheese description had me, I've always thought it tastes a bit to gamey for me! Also read your interview that linked me here, and your dryer lint bead experiment had me laughing so hard I thought I'd wake the family. Boursin is a favorite in our house, my hubby especially, but the price= ouch! Sooo happy to find your recipe; thanks so much! I'll let you know if I can fool him into thinking it's the original.....

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  23. I was wrong. It was a mistake to double this. I had to drop a tennis ball-sized glob of this into dirty dishwater to keep myself from eating it all.

    This is really delicious.

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  24. Holy crap, is that what Boursin costs in the US these days? We're moving back later this year, and my Boursin-addicted children pre-emptively thank you.

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