Summer. Just saying the word summer makes my skin feel warm and has me excited to get my hands in the dirt as perennials wake up or annuals make their short visit in the garden. (I’ll forget all about wanting any part of my body in the dirt when the temperatures reach 100 degrees!) I can almost smell the fresh air of the Wasatch mountains that are just a 10 minute drive from my front door. Summer also reminds me of impromptu get-togethers with family and friends celebrating the cool evenings once the days turn hot. One of my favorite experiences at these gatherings is trying different varieties of finger food, starters, hors d’oeuvres, samplers … APPETIZERS! And over the next days and weeks, I look forward to sharing some of my favorite show stoppers with you. These will range from simple to sinfully over-the-top!
This first recipe, Cucumber Slices with Herbed Cream Cheese, comes to you in celebration of my newly planted herb garden. And previously grandfathered into that garden, I happened to have the two herbs called for in this refreshing meal-starter.
First we have mint- and once you plant mint- you will have mint- forever and everywhere. The word invasive comes to mind, but it’s a beautiful, low maintenance resident so I don’t mind its somewhat pushy nature. Mint has a sweet flavor with a cool after-note and is great in many dishes and beverages. Next in the recipe, chives. This onion-flavored herb is a dependable perennial and the chive blossoms are beautiful in spring and early summer. These herbs combine well and compliment the tart lemon and mildly sweet cream cheese. Cucumbers give a thirsty crunch and the radishes add a hot bite.
I hope you love this refreshing little taste. And buy yourself some mint and chive plants for your garden to enjoy this year and every year after. Or, if you’re a neighbor of mine come over anytime to cut a sprig of mint or chives. I have plenty. Bring your own scissors.
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives
- ½ teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest plus extra for optional garnish
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
- ½ medium cucumber
- 3 medium radishes
- Course sea salt for sprinkling
- Stir together cream cheese, herbs, zest, lemon juice, salt and cayenne.
- Slice 16 (1/4 inch thick) rounds from cucumber. Trim bottoms from radishes, then slice thinly using mandolin or sharp paring knife. Top each cucumber slice with a radish slice and 1 teaspoon herbed cream cheese. Sprinkle with additional lemon zest, if desired.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate up to one hour.
- Sprinkle with course sea salt just before serving.