AN EASY DIP
I have been on a dip- making kick lately. I have made hummus nearly every week for months, muhamra once, a butternut squash spread another time and am now posting a recipe for the sardine spread I found in David Lebovitz's "My Paris Kitchen". Elena is starting to worry about my sanity, I am eating huge quantities of bread (after all, you need something on which to spread all that dip) and our fridge cannot fit another plastic container filled with a weird looking paste.
Let's be honest, apart from beet hummus, most dips are not that appealing to look at. They range from beige-brown to different shades of greyand can develop a slightly darker colored crust if you leave them uncovered for a while. I guess their unappetizing nature is the reason why every hummus picture you see on the internet includes some kind of pretty topping. Some of them even include purple flowers which make the hummus look like the sandy beach on which a flower bed has grown. The embellishers will tell you they do it to improve the texture and flavour contrast of the dish but you and I know better. Texture and flavour contrast are all very well, but making your guests actually want to eat what you have lovingly prepared is more important in my book, so add some herbs even if they don't provide all the contrast in the world and make it pretty!
This particular dip is one that I had never been very attracted to: canned sardines, philadelphia cheese….doesn't sound all that appealing to me or to anyone else for that matter, so I urge you to avoid the "what is this made of?" question before people actually try the stuff.
That was until I tried a herb-spiked version our friendCaroline brought to a picnic. That sardine paté was not only tasty, it was actually quite addictive. Without even noticing, Elena and I found ourselves reaching for just a bit more every 30 seconds. The experience obviously sparked my interest, but it was not until months later, when I saw a similar recipe in David's brilliant book that I saw the opportunity to make it myself. This version doesn't have as many herbs as Caroline's had, which is both good and bad (good for your shopping list, bad because herbs always improve a dish), but you can always use this recipe as a base with which to experiment in terms of herbs additions. I am sure that at least chives and parsley would be great.
• 110g cream cheese at room temperature
• 3 tablespoons (40gr) butter
• 2 (115gr) cans sardines
• 2 scallions, white and tender green parts, minced
• 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, squeezed dry and chopped
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• crackers, baguette, thin-sliced toasted country or rye bread, to serve
1. Mash together the cream cheese and butter with a fork until smooth. Drain the sardines. Run your thumb lengthwise down the bottom of each (there is usually an open seam there) and pluck out the bones. Add the filleted sardines to the cream cheese mixture, mashing them to combine.
2. Add the scallions to the sardine mixture along with the capers, lime juice, salt, a few grinds of black pepper and the cayenne pepper. Taste and add more salt or citrus, if desired.
3. The rillettes can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Let come to room temperature before serving with crackers, a baguette or thin slices of toasted country bread.