Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Forget its funky name; Benedictine's good stuff

Gotta Try It

Don't be afraid of that pale green, old Kentucky appetizer spread called Benedictine. There's none of that medicinal-tasting French liqueur of the same name in there. Least there's not supposed to be.

The story goes the simple cream cheese-based spread was created by Louisville caterer, Jennie Benedict, in the early 1900s and her name stuck. Easy-to-make and serve, Benedictine is designed for Derby parties and other warm-weather entertaining.

Chef Christy Schalck of the Tousey House in Burlington serves her version as an amuse buche on cucumber rounds and raisin-pecan bread, topped with a crispy country ham chip. You also could dab Benedictine on smoked salmon or trout, or tailor the flavor by using equal amounts of mild fresh goat cheese and cream cheese, and/or substitute scallions for the onion, or maybe tarragon for the dill.

But despite what you might read or hear, do not add green food coloring to Benedictine. That would be almost as bad as adding that nasty French liqueur.

Benedictine Spread

4 tablespoons diced cucumber

4 tablespoons diced sweet onion

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

Dash Worcestershire sauce

Dash Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Dill sprigs for garnish

Puree cucumber and onion in food processor. Add cream cheese, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper, and pulse to combine well. Scrape down sides and blend until smooth. Add chopped dill and pulse to combine. Taste for salt and pepper.

Cover and refrigerate. Spread on cucumber slices, crackers or baguette rounds and garnish with dill. Makes about 2 cups.

Chuck Martin

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