Through food presentations this week, class became more personal. The three days of presentations may have been my favorite part of the month. There was no overlap or fighting over dishes. Everyone, in unique fashion, knew what to make and was confident that it would stand out. We were all good sports and approached our plates with open minds, eager to try new things. In sharing our recipes, we shared fundamental aspects of ourselves.
To me, Benedictine is the essential food of Louisvillians. This is not necessarily because everyone eats it, but because it has different roots for all. For some, it is that obnoxious green store-bought spread that contains a color that should only be found in a Pantone formula guide. For others, it is the essence of pride and recipe tradition, served at family gatherings, and especially that Derby get together that can’t be missed.
I like its simplicity and refreshing nature. I like that it is one of the few dishes I make that doesn’t completely transform the ingredients into another entity or seek to boast a set of well-practiced skills. I like that seemingly every Louisville native has a different take on it: different ingredients, different aesthetics, and different ways of serving it up. It can almost make one feel special when encountering people from another place. I’ll explain the concept of Benedictine and watch noses shrivel in disgust. But I’ll laugh. I’m pushy. You will most certainly try my take on it. Who doesn’t love tiny sandwiches?
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 3oz. package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. chopped green onion
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
1 cup peeled, seeded, and grated cucumber
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Drain grated cucumber on paper towels, gently squeezing out excess moisture. Fold into cream cheese mixture. Cut bread into desired shapes. Spread bread shapes with filling and garnish with cucumber wedges or fresh dill if desired.
On a parting note, don’t feel pressured in any way by this recipe. Add to it. Remove what you don’t like. Serve it however you want. Make it your own. Start your own tradition.