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Showcasing Fresh Herbs

by Jane Worthington-Roth

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of taking a Sur la Table cooking class with Chef Ellen Ecker Ogden. Ellen’s focus has always been on the freshest seasonable ingredients and farm-to-table cooking. One of the recipes we made was an herbed cheese spread that was a favorite of her family’s and has become one of our favorites as well. You can use the recipe as an appetizer dip for vegetables or crackers, as a spread on BLTs or your favorite sandwiches. It’s even better when you make the recipe a day early and allow the flavors meld.

This is just one of Ellen’s recipes that will be enjoyed at the Cornwall Library on Friday June 9th. Ellen – a renowned chef, cookbook author, lecturer and kitchen garden designer will be the guest speaker at Cornwall Library’s Books & Blooms events on June 9th and 10th.

Ellen will speak on the topic of “Kitchen Garden Design: The Art of Growing Food” – and I am certain that it will inspire many homespun gardeners to realize that even the humblest vegetable gardens can be beautiful and artistically presented.

In keeping with Ellen’s kitchen garden theme, the cocktail party following her Friday evening talk will feature many delicious selections from her cookbooks. Signed copies of her most recent book, The Complete Kitchen Garden will also be on sale as well as other new and out-of-print gardening books. The Saturday June 10th garden tour selections feature kitchen gardens along with a couple of floral gardens for contrast. More information is available on Cornwall Library’s website.

Herbed Cheese Spread

2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons pitted and chopped black olives (optional)

With the machine running, drop the garlic through the feed tube of a food processor. Add the basil, dill and chives and pulse to blend.

Add the cream cheese, butter and olives, if using. Pulse a few times to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Transfer to a small bowl and cover tightly. Refrigerate to blend the flavors, at least 2 hours, or up to 1 week. Serve at room temperature.

This recipe is also delicious if made with fresh goat cheese instead of cream cheese. For a treat, stop by a farmer’s market and pick up a loaf of locally made bread (e.g. Bantam Bread Company’s Sourdough), smear on some of the herbed cheese spread and top with a slice of an heirloom tomato. A true taste of early summer! For more information on Books & Blooms, please visit the link below.