One of the highlights of any stay in the great outdoors – regardless of whether you’re in a van, a tent, or a cabin somewhere – is what us Clancys call cocktail hour. It’s that hour (or so) in the late afternoon – maybe as the sun is setting, maybe before you’re thinking about dinner, maybe while you’re thinking about dinner – when the beer comes out and the wine is opened. You sit around and have a drink, something to eat, and wonder what everyone else who isn’t as lucky as you to be where you are is doing.

Even though there are no cocktails as such, and even though it can stretch for much longer than an hour, we call it the cocktail hour.

This cheesy dip is a good one for cocktail hour. It doesn’t need a blender or any fancy equipment – just a bowl and a spoon – and can be whisked together quickly. It is, however, best if you let the flavours develop a tad.

We first tried it when we were road-tripping through the countryside in France earlier this year, although it’s got a far posher French name than herby cheese dip. Over there they serve it on boiled potatoes as a starter course with some salad, but we like it on toasted baguette.

What you need

  • 250g cottage cheese. Choose the full-fat version.
  • 50ml creme fraiche – that’s about 1/4 of the tub. Use the rest in a mushroom sauce for your steaks…yum.  You can also use non-sweetened greek style yoghurt or sour cream if you like.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp chives, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp continental parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do with it

  • Place the cottage cheese and creme fraiche in a bowl and mix together.
  • Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Stir through the shallot, chives and parsley.
  • Cover with cling film and pop it in the fridge for an hour

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