~ Homemade Boursin w/Parm 'n Pepper Pita Chips ~
Boursin is technically classified as a "specialty" cheese, however, I classify Boursin as a "party cheese". If you serve it at a party with crackers or toasts, people flock to it. This cow's milk cheese has a creamy, buttery texture and a full flavor, very similar to that of cream cheese, which makes it perfect to serve as a snack with wine or mixed drinks. The Boursin brand is available in five flavors, with Garlic & Fine Herbs being my personal favorite. No matter which one you choose, there are two constants in each variety of Boursin: garlic and peppercorns. Boursin was the creation of Francois Boursin in 1957, in Normandy. It was "his take" on the French tradition of serving cheese with an assortment of minced, fresh herbs, which guests sprinkled atop the cheese to suit their own personal palate. Here's one last bit of trivia about Boursin: When you are purchasing Boursin, if the package does not say "all natural Gournay cheese on it", it is not authentic Boursin. It seems that "Gournay" is the word Francois Boursin picked (naming it after the town he grew up in) when he was required to declare its origin to customs officials. The Boursin brand was first advertised on television in France and Britain using the slogan, "Du Pain, Du Vin, Du Boursin", meaning, "some bread, some wine, some Boursin"!
Each small, 5.2-ounce wheel of Boursin comes wrapped in corrugated foil inside of a small white and green box. If you happen to have any leftovers, store them wrapped in the original corrugated foil wrapper in the refrigerator. While it is creamy and delicious immediately, I like to remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes and serve it at room temperature!
Making your own Boursin is easier than you might think and the advantage of doing this is: you control your own herb blend. There are versions of it that contain combinations of cheese, such as cream cheese, Neufchatel and/or farmer's cheese and a blend of minced, fresh herbs. I encountered my favorite homemade version in someone elses kitchen, a "reverse Kitchen Enounter" so to speak: Carol is a neighbor and very close friend and confidant of mine. One evening while Joe and I were enjoying pre-dinner drinks with she and her husband Dick, Carol served Boursin spread atop what she referred to as "gallery" pita chips. I asked her where she bought her Boursin, as it was absolutely delightful. She told me she made it herself, and, by the end of the evening I had a copy of her recipe!
As for Carol's "gallery" pita chips: During the 1980's, Carol worked at the famous National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. In 1985, Carol was one of the supervisors for the hugely popular exhibition: "The Treasure Houses of Britain". Throughout her career at the gallery, Carol often complimented a member of the gallery's kitchen staff on how delicious their pita chips were. When Carol eventually retired from the gallery, the woman presented her with the pita chip recipe. Lucky for me, Carol and Dick moved to Happy Valley and Carol presented me with that recipe too!
1/4 teaspoon each: dried basil leaves, sage leaves and thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1 teaspoon dried, minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 ounces salted butter, at room temperature, very soft
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, very soft
~ Step 2. In a medium mixing bowl, on lowest speed of electric mixer, thoroughly combine the butter and cream cheese.
Add the dried herb mixture, gradually increasing the mixer speed to high, continuing to beat until the herbs are thoroughly incorporated and the Boursin is smooth and creamy, about 45-60 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Note: Boursin can be made several days in advance of serving and keeps nicely in the refrigerator for at least a week. It is also noteworthy to mention that Boursin is delicious used on or in all sorts of dishes: try adding it to an omelette for breakfast, spread on your sandwich for lunch, or dolloped on top of a steak and baked potato for dinner!
For the parm 'n pepper pita chips:
6 6" round Thomas' Sahara pita pockets, white/unflavored (Note: This is my favorite brand for this recipe folks, and I've tried many.)
8 ounces salted butter, at room temperature, very soft
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 generous tablespoon dried parsley flakes
cracked black pepper, for sprinkling over pita chips
finely- and freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for sprinkling over pita chips
~ Step 3. Using a thin spatula, spread a thin but even coating of the butter mixture evenly over the "inside" (the rough side that was originally the inside of each bread) surface of each disc.
~ Step 4. Using a very sharp knife, cut each disc into sixths, or six wedges.
~ Step 5. Arrange the wedges, side-by-side and not overlapping, on 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans that have been lined with parchment paper. Note: If you are using smaller pans, you'll need more pans. Sprinkle cracked black pepper evenly over all followed by a generous grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, in pans, about 45-60 minutes. Pita chips will continue to crisp up as they cool and will be very crunchy and crispy when eaten!
~ Step 7. Remove the Boursin from the refrigerator 45-60 minutes prior to serving. Top or spread each pita chip with a dollop or swish of Boursin and enjoy:
Special Equipment List: electric mixer; rubber spatula; 2-cup food storage container w/lid; kitchen shears; thin spatula; cutting board; chef's knife; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper
Cook's Note: No recipe file should be without at least one recipe for a great cheese spread and an accompanying toast. I have several "go to" recipes of this nature, but I've got to say, this one is my favorite and is loved by all who taste it! Thank you Carol!!!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)