Vishwesh Bhatt’s Benedictine

Bites from The SFA Guide to Cocktails. Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee.

Did you know that, in addition to recipes for 88 drinks, The SFA Guide to Cocktails includes a chapter on cocktail bites? Vishwesh Bhatt, the chef at Snackbar in our hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, curated a knockout selection of nibbles, including pickled shrimp, okra chaat, and cheddar-ham biscuits. My current favorite is the Benedictine spread, which my husband has made at least half a dozen times in the last few months. (I’m a lucky girl!) I recommend adding it to your cocktail-hour repertoire. —Sara Camp Milam

Click here to purchase a copy (or three!) of The SFA Guide to Cocktails from our friends at Square Books. And raise a glass with us on book tour! 

Benedictine Spread

This is a slightly unorthodox take on a Kentucky classic, a fresher and more natural (note the absence of green food coloring) version of the original. Even though Vish Bhatt graduated from the University of Kentucky, he doesn’t remember coming across the recipe until he saw Kentucky Chef Ouita Michel serve it at a festival. It reminded him of the tea sandwiches of cucumber and cream cheese that his mother used to serve to guests in India, a custom borrowed from the British.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and minced

1/2 cup minced red onion

1 teaspoon salt, plus more if desired

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the cucumbers and onions in a mixing bowl lined with cheesecloth or a tea towel, sprinkle with the salt, and gently toss. Set aside for 30 minutes, then gather the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the liquid and return the cucumber mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the cheeses, dill, parsley, jalapeño, and black pepper and gently stir to combine. Refrigerate in an airtight container for no more than 2 days. Serve as a sandwich spread or dip.

Recipe from THE SOUTHERN FOODWAYS ALLIANCE GUIDE TO COCKTAILS by Sara Camp Milam and Jerry Slater, copyright University of Georgia Press, 2017.

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