Mashed white cheese spread

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Lois’ mashed white cheese spread tastes like an upmarket version of the old favourite reduced-cream-and-onion-soup mix dip. I made it to accompany some snacks to serve to friends at our house warming drinks and it was a raging success.

The dip can be made a day ahead and the quantities can easily be doubled or even tripled. When I made a triple batch of this dip I used a medium-sized onion, but you can add as much or as little as you like.

Mashed white cheese spread (Lois Daish, Cuisine, May 2009 Issue 134, p.91).

3 tablespoons cottage cheese

2 tablespoons cream cheese

2 tablespoons creamy feta

1 tablespoon thick plan yoghurt

juice of a small lemon

1 small onion, peeled

Put the cheeses and yoghurt in a small bowl and add the lemon juice. Grate the onion on the large-holed side of a grater to produce a small quantity of pulpy juice. Add this to the cheese mixture and use a fork to mash all the ingredients together to form a course-textured spread. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if needed. Cover and set aside in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Lois & Marc Weir (and Lois’ thin crackers)

Marc Weir is Wellington food scene royalty as one of the visionary and enormously hardworking co-owners of Floriditas and more recently, Loretta. When I first started posting photos of Lois Daish recipes online, Marc responded and told me that one of his first jobs in hospitality was at Lois’ much-loved Brooklyn Cafe & Grill in the 1980s.

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Marc credits Lois with giving him a strong foundation in the restaurant business, which has stood him in good stead for his career in the industry. Both Marc and Lois say that they were so inspired by each other during their time together in Brooklyn. Lois’ unwavering dedication to ‘good food done well with quality ingredients’ is something which is echoed in Marc’s approach. Marc recalls that Lois used herbs as an ingredient, never a garnish, something now commonplace in contemporary cooking, but not in 1980s New Zealand.

I met with Marc one afternoon at Loretta and he had with him his worn copy of Lois’ book Good Food, the pages slightly stained and marked with use. Marc flicked through to show me his favourite and most regularly used Lois recipes, which he continues to make today. One of these recipes is for thin crackers, which are still made at Loretta & Floriditas today. As Marc put it, he just hasn’t found a better cracker recipe in all these years.

Lois’ thin crackers (Good Food, p. 176)

150g plain flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

15g butter

100ml milk (approximately – you may need more/less)

extra milk for brushing the tops of the crackers

Preheat your oven to 180°C. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar and salt and rub in the butter until the mixture looks crumbly. Using a blunt knife, stir in enough milk to make a stiff dough. Leave to sit for ten minutes before turning out onto a floured bench. Roll the dough thinly – think paper-thin but not see-through. Cut out the crackers using a cookie cutter/up-turned glass/measuring cup (whatever size or shape you like). Leave to sit for another ten minutes before transferring onto a flat tray lined with baking paper. Brush the tops of the crackers with milk and bake for 10 – 15 minutes but make sure you start checking them from the ten minute mark. Remove from the tray and put on to a cooling rack.

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