Even though the Spring is indeniably there, I still have to wait a bit for the local asparagus and try out Clarkie’s Asparagus and Parmesan Tart I have seen on Beloved Green. Meanwhile I have been watching, impressed, the jungle of Winter-surviving chives, growing like crazy on my balcony and serving as a joyful, green touch of Spring in my kitchen. Even though there are thousands of ways to use chives, my all-time favourite is the fresh cheese spread, a reminder of my childhood and probably the most innocuous of all my food addictions. Here is only a part of my chives jungle (including, on left, nira 韮, Chinese chives, very kindly offered by my friend A. and also courageous – albeit moderate – Winter survivors):
The fresh cheese I have in mind is called “curd cheese” and sometimes “farm” or “farmers cheese”, available in Polish/Russian/ Hungarian grocery shops all around the world. Curd cheese is widely used in Central and Eastern Europe (Russian творог, Polish twaróg or biały ser, Hungarian túró or Austrian Topfen are only some examples in both savoury and sweet dishes and is my absolute favourite in Baked Cheesecake (while its smooth, mixed version is ideal in Unbaked Cheesecake). Its texture might be described as something halfway between ricotta and feta, but its slightly tangy taste differs from both. Since it is produced by straining soured milk, curd cheese is a natural product and if low or medium-fat variety is used, it makes relatively healthy meals and desserts. (It shouldn’t be mixed up with US/Canadian “cheese curds”!). This is how curd cheese, crushed with fork, looks like:
This spread is not only fresh, low-fat, quick and known as an appetite suppressant, but it tastes much better on wholemeal, black, crunchy bread or even pumpernickel, which makes it even healthier (on the other, hand I have read somewhere fresh cheese is no longer considered as healthy as in the past…). Fresh cheese spread keeps for a couple of days in the fridge, in a closed container. Actually, I think it tastes better the following day, when the chives’ flavour is stronger. I always make a big batch to have it ready for breakfast or as a snack.
TIP: If you cannot get curd/farmers cheese, you can replace it with cottage cheese, but it has to be drained and combined with sour cream/milk or kefir (not yogurt) to make it tangy.
Other recipes which call for curd cheese:
Preparation: 10 minutes
150 g curd/farmers cheese (or drained cottage cheese)
4-6 tablespoons yogurt, kefir, sour milk or sour cream (or more if the cheese is dry)
about 10 flat tablespoons chopped chives
Crush the curd cheese with a fork, add the yogurt, kefir or cream gradually, stirring until you obtain the desired consistency (this depends not only on the cheese brand, but also on your preferences).
If using cottage cheese, crush the grains with a fork before adding kefir or sour milk/cream.
Add the chives, the salt, give it a good stir and taste if it’s salty enough.