For the love of cheese
Cheese, cheese, cheese, YES I love it all. From the full flavoured sharp hard body to the soft oozy creamy cheese that coats the cracker with ease. Round shiny waxed giant jewels to the stamped, labelled, sealed logs and matte yellow boulder discs. The veins of blue running through a Roquefort or Stilton, fresh shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano lacing my pasta bowl. The melted raclette, a bubbling melting heaven smothering my crispy fried potatoes. Soft ricotta, warm with a sprinkle of sugar, grilled saganaki, a glistening slab of feta atop a Greek salad or the breaking of burrata on my summer Caprese.
I admit I have been spoilt over the years with a taste of many cheeses from around the world. Living in England for many years working and holidays in Europe, cheese was always high on the hit list. A crusty baguette, bottle of wine and a selection of cheese anywhere in France is a divine meal in itself. So many to try.
Australia has come a long way in its artisan production with many a cheese maker putting in the time, effort and love to produce some fine cheeses. We are very lucky, along with the promise of even better selections to come. Too damn good.
The creamier, softer, whiter cheeses are my weakness. Don’t get me wrong an aged cheddar, Dutch firm pale goats cheese and of course any type of Parmesan can make my day complete. But the smelly, over ripe, softened cheese will turn my day around. The soft fluffy cloud like mould that coats and encompasses this sensation you are about to indulge in, makes me go weak at the knees. Over ripe, YES. Hint, buy your cheese, store it till it is well ripe, bring to room temperature and enjoy.
This country has unfortunately put to many restrictions on cheese consumption, hence not teaching us to experience it at its best. Along with not letting producers produce at its best, bloody health and safety restrictions. We have been making cheese without all these restrictions for 100’s of years and it has been OK. I mean, we have grown as a species, haven’t we. What’s their problem?? Anyway stop ranting. Do yourself a favour and buy quick sale and eat out of date.
My baked Camembert and Brie
Coming into the warmer months, entertaining, balmy outdoor evenings and late night snacks or excellent for the picnic hamper, my recipe for baked Camembert or brie is a winner. It turns what I feel an average, OK, cheap and cheerful cheese into a damn fine cheese dish. Here it is.
Besides a Camembert or Brie small wheel cheese there are no set ingredients/ rules in this one. What you like, what you’ve got, combos that tickle your fancy is what it’s gonna be.
My favourites are...
Chorizo, roasted red pepper and caramelized onions
Smoked salmon, horseradish and sautéed leeks
Smoked leg ham, chives and pineapple (fresh) an Aussie combo fav
Honey roasted pumpkin, toasted pinenuts and spring onions
Salami, wilted spinach and sundried tomato
Roasted garlic, sautéed mushrooms and sage
Delicious for afters.. Brandy soaked apricots, sliced almonds and cranberries
Sliced pears, thyme and walnuts
And the list goes on……
Take a small Camembert or Brie and slice in ½. Keep chilled till ready to fill, easier to handle cold.
Whatever the filling you choose dice small so as when the cheese is scooped up, you get a bit of everything. Then layer the fillings on one half, then top.
Lightly spray a piece of grease proof paper, pop cheese in the centre and wrap. Then encase in foil.
Place in the oven, microwave or even the warm summer sun and let melt, ooze and create magic. Approx.10-15 mins in 180 depending on your oozy requirements. Rind will be tender and cheese soft inside.
Serve with crackers, toasted crusty bread, crudities or grissini.
Note these cheesy delights freeze really well. Great to have on hand for the last minute cheese hit. Place the greaseproof papered cheese in cling film and freeze.
To vamp up this divine treat
This cheese is stunning when served in a wooden cheese box. Personally I eat these cheeses as is. I feel with this recipe, adding so much flavour you don’t need the fancy box cheese. I keep a couple of empty boxes on hand.
To serve, top with fresh herbs, maybe a drizzle of honey, sprinkle of roasted nuts. Let the imagination flow, amazing. Not sure, ASK ME, again, that’s what this is all about.
Another serving suggestion is to wrap the cheese in prosciutto . Looks amazing. Place un-wrapped cheese on grease proof lined tray and bake till prosciutto a little crisp.
For a true culinary show stopper, place the filled cheese in puff pastry, egg wash and bake. Talk about looking fancy and as for taste, well think about it.
Buy a couple of cheap cheese rounds, stuff em, bake em and eat em. Let me know how you go. Most of all enjoy.