Thursday, 26 November 2015

Baked Camembert supper

Baked camembert is ususally touted as a starter, which is odd, because it's everything a starter shouldn't be: very filling, rich, and satisfying. It doesn't work so well at the end of a meal, either: it's hard to make a main course light enough that people will welcome quantities of gloopy, melty cheese after it, instead of groaning inside at the prospect, trying to swallow enough to be assuage their host's feelings, and then feeling a food coma setting in so fast that they must either take their leave or nod off at the table.

What it does make, however, is an absolutely brilliant romantic supper for two! Or for one, if you're very very hungry, or for more, if you are more, and add additional camemberts. Bizarrely, it's also incredibly healthy - because once you have your splendid Baked Camembert centrepiece, you surround it with fresh raw foods that want to be delved into melty hot cheese, and end up eating more raw vegetables than any usual supper might feature. Plus once the oven's hot, it only takes 15 minutes.

For 2 people, you will need: one camembert in a wooden box, 1-2 cloves of garlic, some fresh woody herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, whatever you prefer) and some olive oil to dribble on; and then to serve it with - bread / oatcakes / savoury biscuits, a tart jelly / jam if you have, plus whatever fresh crispy vegetables and fruit you have about the place. (Assorted ideas further down.)

Preheat the oven to 200 C fan (that's 220 C non-fan). Watch out for the eye.

 Camembert inna box, a head of garlic (you only need 1 fat clove or 2 slim ones, but doesn't the head look beautiful?) and a few sprigs of herbs - that's thyme in the picture, but rosemary or oregano would also be lovely.

Peel the garlic clove(s) whole (so no smashy-smashy like we usually do) and slice it into sticks - not too thin or they won't have structural integrity for poking into the cheese. Break the herb sprigs into about 8 or 10 individual sprigs.

Take the camembert out the box, unwrap its plasticky covering, and put the bare camembert back in the box. Then grab a knife and poke holes all over it.

 Poke the sticks of garlic and the sprigs into the holes. Fresh thyme sprigs are a bit bendy and weak for poking into cheese, so I found pushing them in with the knife helped.

 This is already a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

Dribble the olive oil onto the thing of beauty. The pan is not a thing of beauty, but that's fine, because the camembert's in its box.

If you have such a thing as a basting brush, you can use that to spread the oil over the whole top. Or you could use a scraper, or the back of a spoon, or if your hands are clean and no-one is looking / minds, your fingers.

Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes (while you grab and collate its accessories) and...

Ta-da! Hot, melty, golden fragrant garlicky herby camembert-gloopy goodness.

Here it is with a generous dollop of cranberry jelly on top. Lingonberry jelly would also do nicely. Any suitably tart berry jelly or compote, really.
And here you see its accessories already gathering eagerly around it...

Accessories to the Camembert Crime

Some special crusty tasty bread or oatcakes or savoury biscuits or any combo or none of the above if you just want to go with fresh fruit and veg.
The camembert itself is so splendidly rich, that you want fresh, crisp clean flavours around it, as a counterpoint - anything you might put in a salad, really.

Cucumber and tomato salad: good chunks of both, so they can easily be eaten with fingers, each layer salted and peppered well. The tomato hid all the cucumber so I added more cucumber on top and then a few cucamelons to make it pretty. If your conservatory isn't strung about and bountiful with cucamelon vines, a handful of black olives would look wonderful.

Baked camembert with crusty bread and oatcakes, tomato and cucumber salad, and red and green peppers, plus a few extra cheeses that were in the fridge (and which didn't, actually, get eaten, as the camembert was more than enough).

 Baked camembert with cranbery jelly, baby tomatoes, radishes, celery, yellow and green peppers, sliced apple, and (out of shot) some crusty bread, plus a ramekin of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping extra bread into. The apple, celery, and peppers were for dipping, the radishes and tomatoes just for sharp / juicy counterpoints.

Eat with your fingers.

Bon appetit!

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