L’Auberge Chez Francois Herbed Cottage Cheese Spread
My first job out of culinary school was as a line cook at the acclaimed L’Auberge Chez Francois, a romantic French restaurant right outside of Washington, DC. If you’re from the area, you’ve likely spent a special occasion there. If not, just imagine an Old World style cottage in the rolling hills of Virginia, dining rooms appointed with cozy fireplaces and traditional Alsatian decor, an old-school French menu featuring the likes of escargots, foie gras and Chateaubriand, and a whole lotta charm…it’s just a very special place.
I found out pretty quickly that working there wasn’t quite as romantic as dining there. It was a large, European-style brigade kitchen with the chef at the helm and all the cooks “manning” their stations. I was the only woman. I cried every time the chef yelled at me, had to get lifts on my shoes to reach the plates, and was “rescued” by more experienced cooks on more than one occasion. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to cook in a restaurant kitchen, just imagine trying to juggle multiple orders in your head, cooking on four different burners with food in the oven at the same time, flames, sharp knives, hot pans and the incessant stream of orders coming in and going out. It was terrifying!
I did eventually get the hang of it, and though I never once forgot what a privilege it was to work there, I have to admit that I’m much happier to be a guest at Chez Francois now. One of the nicest parts about dining there is all the unexpected treats that show up at your table throughout the meal, like decadent chocolate truffles after dessert, sorbets garnished with candied violets in-between courses, or my personal favorite, the Herbed Cottage Cheese Spread that comes with a basket of toasted garlic bread while you peruse the menu. It’s blend of cottage cheese, sour cream, garlic, scallions and fresh herbs that’s completely irresistible…the perfect beginning to an always perfect meal.
Note: At the restaurant, this is served as a spread but it’s also delicious on its own as a snack or side, like cottage cheese. For best results, do not use low fat cottage cheese or sour cream.
1 lb. small-curd, cream-style cottage cheese, such as Breakstone’s (4%)
⅔ cup sour cream, such as Breakstone’s
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1 tablespoon finely minced green onions or chives
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley, plus more for garnish
Combine the cottage cheese and sour cream in a medium bowl and blend well. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and adjust seasonings. Cover and chill well before serving. Serve with toasted garlic bread or crackers and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.