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Cervelle de Canut

6 to 8 portions


    Cervelle de canut is basically the Boursin of France, an herbed fresh farmer’s cheese spread that’s a speciality of Lyon. The name is kind of weird, as it literally means “silk worker’s brain,” named after nineteenth-century Lyonnaise silk workers, who were called canuts. Sadly, the name reflects the low opinion of the people towards these workers. Happily for us, though, it’s delicious—creamy, fragrant, and fresh at the same time. Cervelle de canut is one of my family’s favourite dishes. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can pop out of the fridge once your guests arrive. Use a full-fat cream cheese for the dish, or it will be too runny and less delicious.



    Cervelle de Canut


      • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
      • 1 clove garlic, grated
      • 2 tablespoons (10 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
      • 2 tablespoons (10 g) chopped fresh chives
      • 1 tablespoon (5 g) chopped fresh tarragon
      • 1 teaspoon (3 g) chopped fresh dill
      • 1 teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) freshly cracked black pepper
      • 1/3 cup (75 mL) Crème Fraîche (or store-bought) or high-fat sour cream
      • 1.1 pounds (500 g) full-fat cream cheese
      • 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, melted
      • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) chopped garlic
      • 1 teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt
      • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh thyme leaves
      • 1 French baguette, cut into 1/4 inch (5 mm) slices



      Rinse the shallot under cold water to remove the raw onion taste. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the shallot, garlic, parsley, chives, tarragon, dill, salt, and pepper. Add the crème fraîche and mix until fully incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the cream cheese until the herbs and aromatics are evenly distributed. Don’t overmix. Spoon the mixture into a small airtight container, cover, and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.


      Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C), with the rack in the centre position. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.


      In a small bowl, mix together the butter, oil, garlic, salt, and thyme. Lay out the bread slices on the lined baking sheet and brush each slice on both sides with the butter mixture.


      Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the slices over and bake for another 10 min- utes. The crostini should be golden brown and crispy, but not dried out and rock hard.


      Transfer the crostini to a serving plate and serve with the cheese to spread on top.



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