bits and pieces

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hail Cheeses! Phyllo-Wrapped Frommage, Baked with Figs & Port

I have no idea why I decided a shallow bowl was an
appropriate serving dish. Just go with it.
Delicious, delicious cheese.

It shouldn't be news to anyone that I have a sick, excessive love for cheese. Hard cheese, soft cheese, goat cheese, sheep cheese, new cheese, old cheese - you name it, I probably love it.

I even briefly considered adding 'cheese reviews' to this blog to encourage the six of you who read this occasionally to try new and exciting cheeses. Which everyone should.

Aside from the my particular fattening passion for cheese - it is also makes other people happy. This is a GREAT appetizer for dinner or an 'oh look! people dropped by and are staying long enough to merit feeding them something' type of snack. Which is exactly what happened to create the photo above.

Our backyard here is getting pretty glorious so we like to spend as much time in it as possible. Wow, I sound depressingly middle-aged. Sigh. Anyway - when people come by we sit in our backyard, have a fire, and eat baked cheese. It's easy to make, looks like it's a little bit complicated, and is super goddamned tasty. What more could you want?

I used simple Camembert for the photo above - but I've also used Chaumes, St. AndrĂ© and of course the familiar Brie. So far this has worked splendidly with all the soft cheeses I've used. I have not tried this with a hard or semi-hard cheese, so I have no idea how this will work if you inexplicably decide to bake a bunch of Reggiano. I don't think it would be as good. You can definitely use goat's cheese though if you want to make this a bit healthier (note: this is not in the least bit healthy). 

a bunch of phyllo pastry, you can buy it frozen near the pie crusts. I have absolutely no interest in ever making this from scratch. 
cheese! You can use a whole little wheel or just a big triangle of cheese, but this is not a recipe when 'less is more' is applicable. More is more. Go with the whole wheel. 
about 1/4 cup of melted butter (see, not in the least bit healthy)
TOPPINGS!! I used some dried figs I had + a big splash of red wine + fig and port jam that I had. You can use pretty much whatever tickles your fancy. Sundried tomatoes, mango chutney, figs, cranberries, blackberries, roasted garlic, nothing WHATEVER. Seriously - you don't even need toppings. This is great just by itself. Whatever you're using, make sure you've drained them (i.e. if you're using sundried tomatoes, do not pour the whole ton of olive oil on top too). I used 2 dried black mission figs, diced, 1 big splash of red wine, and 1 tbsp of fig + port spread and just sauteed it lightly for a couple minutes before hand. 
sliced + toasted crostini or baguette for eating + dipping. You could also use crackers if you really wanted to. I'd toast some baguette slices if I were you. 

other things you will need:
a pastry brush
a baking sheet

  1. First things first, ensure your phyllo is thawed. This can take a few hours, so take it out in advance and stick it in the fridge to thaw. 
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 and grease your baking tray with some butter/olive oil. 
  3. Lay down 1 sheet of phyllo. Paint liberally with butter. Lay another sheet on top. Paint with butter. Do this twice more (for a total of 4 sheets). 
  4. If you are using toppings, top your cheese with the toppings now. Place your cheese on your phyllo, in the centre. Using whatever folding technique seems most appropriate to you, envelop your wheel of cheese in the buttered pastry. Folding, wrapping, whatever. Cover your cheese in such a fashion that the toppings are on the top (duh) and the 'seal', or edges of the ,are on the bottom. If it strikes your fancy, top it with some rosemary or a dusting of sugar/salt/curry powder, whatever. 
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. In the meantime you'll want to toast your baguette (slice and leave on the tray with the cheese for the last 10 minutes), or assemble your crackers. 
  6. Remove cheese from oven and allow to rest for a minute or two. Using a big spatula or flipper, move your baked perfection from the tray to whatever serving dish you're using. Make a couple cuts in the top - either score it or just slice it cross-wise in an 'x'.
  7. Eat. It's like fondue without the dignity of those little fondue sticks.

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