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July 2003

La cervelle de canut

This dish is from Lyon, the affluent silk centre of France where, in the 19th century, weavers lived in poverty next to their more affluent neighbours. The rather derogatory name translates as "silk weaver's brains", and is thought to reflect the poor regard in which the richer community held weavers. Traditionally, a farmhouse-style cheese would be used – fromage blanc is perfect, but not readily available. The following combination of cheeses makes a good substitute.

Serves 8-10

1½ tablespoons aged white wine vinegar
1¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
160g baby salad leaves
Warm toasted walnut bread or baguette, to serve
La cervelle de canut
450g ricotta
375g goat's curd
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped chervil
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon tarragon or white wine vinegar

Method
For la cervelle de canut, place all ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then stir until well combined.
Place remaining ingredients except leaves in a large bowl, season to taste and whisk until well combined. Add leaves and toss gently to combine. Serve salad immediately with small bowls of la cervelle de canut to spread on slices of warm toasted walnut bread.


Recipe by Sophia Young, Australian Gourmet Traveller
Photography by Georgie Cole, Network Agency + Management (02) 9280 0099
Styling by Marie-Hélène Clauzon, 0418 677 703