Fromage Blanc

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I want to make a fromage blanc  mixed with herbs and garlic, in the Lyon style -- or I might do the sweet kind, with strawberries on the side. Either way.

Now I have read that real fromage blanc  is very difficult if not impossible to obtain in the US, for strange reasons I don't quite grasp. Jacques Pepin has a lovely recipe in which he mixes cream cheese and ricotta to make a passable facsimile, which works well.

But then I looked at Wikipedia, and found that there are a number of farmer cheeses like tvarog, twarog, quark, and so on. I have a BIG Russian market nearby, and the prices are terrific.

So here's my question.

Does anyone know which of the Eastern European quark-type fresh cheeses is most similar to French fromage blanc? If I buy Russian творог, for instance, do I need to do anything to it to make it more akin to the French product?
 
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Just buy Boursin bro...
Um... have you looked at the prices on that stuff? I've made it Pepin's way, which is very good, and I've done it with tvarog. A normal batch yields about 1.5 pounds, give or take, and costs something like $5. Tell me where you find Boursin for $3.35 per pound?
 
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To me a ready-product that is probably the closest to fromage blanc is sour cream. It's not the same, but if you whip it good for a mn or two it will give you a texture and mouth feel that is close to fromage blanc. 

Boursin is really a completely different animal. Different taste, texture, density etc.. altogether. 
 
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Just to give a baseline:

Pepin's recipe calls for 1 block (8oz) of cream cheese and 1 standard container (15-16oz) of ricotta. You push these through a food mill or ricer, add about a cup of fresh herbs, 1-2 crushed cloves garlic, a lot of pepper, and quite a bit of salt, and then work together with a whisk. Add about 1 cup of lightly whipped cream. Tie it all up in cheesecloth and hang it in a pitcher or the like, in the fridge, for 1-2 days. Pour off the whey and the cheese is ready to go.

It's quite a lot like a boursin in texture, though a little less dense.
 
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I'd never argue with a Pepin recipe! Though the fromage blanc I've had -- and I haven't had much because it's expensive -- did not have garlic, fresh herbs, or pepper, though it sounds good.
 
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I'd never argue with a Pepin recipe! Though the fromage blanc I've had -- and I haven't had much because it's expensive -- did not have garlic, fresh herbs, or pepper, though it sounds good.
It's a Lyonnaise thing, I believe. They also do the more common sweet version with raspberries, which I think they call coeur a la creme.
 
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cervelle de canut? 
Is that what it's called? Brain of silk worker?  The title doesn't sound so good, but the cheese, garlic and spices, really good! ! and not unlike Boursin...love boursin.
 
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Quote:
 
Is that what it's called? Brain of silk worker? 
Well yes... if that's what Chris had in mind. It's a pejorative term given by Lyon's bourgeoisie, as if the silk worker's brain was mush. Not exactly politically correct by today's standards.
 
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I'll be darned. Never heard that term, just Googled it -- and yes, that's what I'm looking for. Apparently vinegar is pretty common in it, which Pepin doesn't use, but I suspect that's because fromage frais  is sweeter than the cream-cheese/sour-cream mix he's working with.

(Incidentally, not surprised that Pepin, a pure working-class guy to the core, doesn't use that term!)

Okay, so back to my question, then. For making cervelle de canut  or fromage blanc  of this type, does anyone know which of the many Eastern European farmer-cheese products (e.g., tvarog) is most similar to the French version? That might be most similar to fromage frais, for example. I really don't know.
 
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Interestingly, some years back, @French Fries  asked where to get faisselle, which is more or less step 1 of making this stuff. Basically, it looks to me as though you beat the c**p out of fromage frais  (bien claqué), tie it up in cheescloth or put it in a faisselle, and let the whey come out of it. Then you mash it up with herbs, garlic, cream, salt, pepper, and a bit of oil, and eat it.

Pépin's approach, which is probably based on something specific from his childhood and apprenticeship in and around Lyon, is to do all the mixing and beating at once, then tie up the mixture and let strain. In one of his shows, his daughter Claudine notes that when you have this dish in Lyon, they bring you plain fromage blanc  (probably en faisselle) and you mix it with herbs and such for yourself as you eat it. So I suspect he's trying to get a fuller flavor than is quite traditional -- and, as he notes, it's a lot like a Boursin.

French Wikipedia seems to think that tvarog is pretty much the same as fromage frais, but they also think that the terms fromage frais  and fromage blanc  cover an awful lot of territory, so I'm not sure what I can make of that.

Anyone here read Russian or Polish?
 
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Solved my problem. Digging around in French, I have found that many Russians and Poles in France regularly use, as substitutes for twarog / tvorog, either fromage blanc  or faisselle. From this I conclude that I can do the reverse -- why not? Nobody says you have to add salt or cream or anything like that, but just use the one as the other.

So I figure I start with best-quality twarog, work it through a food mill and add the herbs and some cream or perhaps yogurt, make sure to salt sufficiently, tie up in cheesecloth, then let drain in the fridge for at least 24 and preferably 48 hours. Serve with crusty toasts, fresh scallions, and carrot sticks.

Sound good?
 
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Ok so faisselle it is. Hence the confusion, because when you said "Fromage blanc" I assumed you meant the smooth kind – which faisselle is not.

I don't think you'll find anything in the U.S. that goes close to Faisselle.... at least not in a regular supermarket... then again I've never tried that Twarog you mention so I don't know.

Have you considered doing your own faisselles?

 
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Ok so faisselle it is. Hence the confusion, because when you said "Fromage blanc" I assumed you meant the smooth kind – which faisselle is not.

I don't think you'll find anything in the U.S. that goes close to Faisselle.... at least not in a regular supermarket... then again I've never tried that Twarog you mention so I don't know.

Have you considered doing your own faisselles?

Milk is shockingly expensive around here, so I don't plan to make faisselle. But it turns out that Amish farmer cheese is a lot like twarog, with some of the large local Russian community preferring it. The same few companies all make three styles of twarog (full, reduced, and non-fat), Amish-style farmer cheese, sour cream, and several varieties of cottage cheese.

So far, I'd say twarog is a winner. I think next time I'll add more salt and drain it longer, to produce something more akin to a Boursin.
 
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