Happy New Year everyone!!
I’m so excited to leave 2014 behind, I have a really good feeling about 2015.
This New Year’s, some friends of mine have been visiting from Australia, via the UK, and it’s been a trip in the sign of cheese. On NYE we had Raclette – melted Raclette cheese over these naturally sweet little boiled potatoes, with different cured meats and hams, teeny tiny pickles and pearl onions. My house still kind of smells like cheese, which is awesome in my book.
Last night was their last night here, so I decided we should have one more big cheese dinner before they go. I went looking for Mont d’Or cheese, but had to ‘settle’ for Camembert, which wasn’t a huge tragedy – I love melted Camembert, it’s one of my staple comfort food dinners. I usually pair it with a green salad and some good, crusty baguette. Yesterday I added some fennel to the salad, and a quick honey-mustard vinaigrette. And then we gorged ourselves on cheese.
I was going to get all fancy and add a bit of garlic and white wine to the Camembert, but when it came to be dinner time I completely forgot and just shoved it in the oven. It doesn’t need to be fancy though, as the gooey, melted Camembert cheese is full-flavoured enough on its own, and this is how I usually have it. You can also add some sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme, cut little slits in the top of the cheese and push in the sprigs of herb before baking it. But really, you don’t need to; just the cheese will do, and do plenty.
If serving as a starter, count about 1 cheese for 2-4 people. If serving as a main, count 1 cheese per person (trust me!). Serve with crusty bread and a simple green salad, and you have a decadent (but cheap) dinner that’s ready in under 30 minutes.
Make sure you get the cheese with the stapled box, not the glued together one, as the wooden container will then come apart as the cheese bakes. Get a good quality cheese too, as the cheaper ones won’t melt properly, but stay sort of gelatinous – not at all what we’re aiming for here.
Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
Take all of the paper off of your cheese, and place it in the lid of the wooden container (the bottom part is often half made of paper). Place your cheese (or cheeses) in an oven-proof dish.
Bake the cheese(s) for 20-25 minutes, until it starts to swell up and feel completely liquid inside when you press gently on the top.
While your cheese is baking, slice up your bread and prepare your salad; I made a simple honey-mustard vinaigrette by mixing 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp honey (the firm cloudy kind, not the runny clear kind), 1/4 tsp dijon mustard, and a good few pinches of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
When the cheese is done baking, place it on a small plate and cut a cross in the top of the cheese, to bend back the crust and expose the melted centre. Serve immediately!