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Cervelle de Canut, a delicious cheese dip from Lyon, traditionally made with Faisselle cream cheese, but here, we use the easy-to-get cottage cheese.
The name may sound romantic if you don’t speak French; if you do, well …, it means “silk weaver’s brains” – eew! Makes one think twice about the recipe doesn’t it?
Cervelle de Canut Recipe
Created sometime in the mid 19th century in Lyon, it’s named after the silk workers of that time. Now whether it’s an insult or a tribute, one can only guess but likening one’s brains to mush is probably leaning slightly toward the first supposition, don’t you think?
Cheese for Cervelle de Canut
Traditionally, the cheese used for this is Faisselle, a type of fresh cream cheese or fromage blanc. The name faiselle actually refers to the tiny colander that the cheese is made in. The cheese itself is thick, almost yoghurt like and can be eaten sweet or savoury, as in today’s recipe, Cervelle de Canut.
When I first learned to make this recipe in the mid 90’s in Lyon, I was informed that should I not be able to find faisselle, to substitute it with cottage cheese, with just a touch of cream. And that’s how I’ve always made it in the UK. However, if you can get faiselle, use it and also omit the cream.
How to serve Cervelle de Canut?
How does one eat it? Well, it’s a dip and I’ve had it with crunchy vegetables, with bread sticks, on jacket potatoes or just with soldiers (little strips of toast).
I’ve kept this pretty basic, with just 2 herbs, a little garlic, tomatoes and the obligatory wine vinegar.
I absolutely love using roasted tomatoes in this recipe, if I have any and in the summer I always do! Fresh tomatoes will do nicely too. You can add more herbs if you like, tarragon, chervil, whatever you fancy, but make sure they go together!
You can also increase the vinegar to your taste. I quite like a high tang in it, so am always more generous with the vinegar than the recipe calls for.
I’ve also added some fresh red chillies to the mix in the past, because you know how I love my chillies!
Leave the cottage cheese lumpy or zap it in a blender for a smoother look, it’s up to you.
My only problem is that I’ve usually eaten half of it before it gets to the table – it’s that good!
Shall we get our aprons on?
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More Dips & Sauces on LinsFood
Cervelle de Canut
- 500 g cottage cheese blended smooth if desired
- 1 Tbsp double cream
- 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- a handful chives finely chopped
- a handful flat Italian parsley or curly is fine, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes fresh or roasted, roughly chopped, including the juices
- 1 pinch salt
- dash of freshly ground black black pepper
- Mix all the ingredients together, cover and let sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes if you have time. If not, it’ll taste just as lovely freshly made.
- Taste it and add more salt, pepper or vinegar as you see fit, to your taste.
- Serve as suggested above.