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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Peppercorn-Baked Camembert with Fresh Thyme Bread-sticks

I don't have any proper cheese-baking dishes, but I like to bake the occasional brie or camembert.  Occasional being like once or twice a year...

I do have a plethora of ramekins, however.  Medium and small.

So every time I bake a cheese, I lament the fact that the circle of cheese is just ever-so-slightly too large for the largest ramekin I have.  I keep wanting to try and make it fit, but am often afraid of getting it to work, so I don't try.

However... this time I did.

I scraped most of the rind off the camembert first.  I wanted to keep at least some of it on for flavour, but in order to squeeze it into my slightly too small ramekin, I wanted to "grease" it in.

I thought some truffle butter would be an awesome lubricant.  And delicious with the cheese, thyme, and peppercorns.  

So, I took the smallest of dollops of truffle butter, and smeared it over all sides of the cheese, and then gently eased the cheese in one 'side' at a time.  To my astonishment and delight, it worked!  It was much more malleable than I expected, and despite being slightly convex at first, with a satisfying 'phhhht' sound I was able to push it all the way down.

 I was pleased.

I think it is so much nicer to have it contained in such a limiting container.  Often it will be recommended to bake a cheese in a shallow dish, so that you can cut into it a little easier... but this was easily solved with the addition of a spoon to the dish upon serving.

Anyway, I mulched up a small amount of almonds, chopped up some thyme, and then pulled out my drawer of peppercorns.

I like any chance to do a mixed peppercorn medley.  More often than not, each flavour of peppercorn has its own specific use and I generally don't mix them.  The most I'll do is mix a bit of black and pink for some beans or some black and green for a steak or something... but for the most part they are largely solo flavourings.
So, when the opportunity pops up to do a peppercorn medley, I'm excited.

Each one imparts its own uniqueness and when you're using "peppercorn" as your dominant flavour (which in this case I am) it is nice to have them all play together.  The spiciness of the black, the heat of the pink, the freshness of the green, and the tartness of the white, are a truly beautiful symphony of flavours.

The thyme was thrown in there just to be a subtle complementary hint; a little allusion to the bread-sticks I made to accompany the cheese.

So, I ground the peppercorns coarsely rather than finely, mixed in the crushed almonds, sprinkled in the chopped thyme, and just spread that evenly on top of the cheese.

drip...drip...drip... <drool>

Of course, this was mainly meant just as an appetizer-snack-kind-of-dealie (and like I said, meant to accompany some fresh thyme bread-sticks I baked) so I opted to serve it up 'condiment' style with some spoons in the cheese and in some thyme-dijon.  

In fact, there was thyme in everything this night.  

It was delightful.

The bread-sticks I rolled in some coarse salt, as I wanted them to be almost "pretzel" style.  Hence the idea to have dijon as well.  I just stirred in some more thyme into the dijon, and it performed the same function as the hint of it did in the cheese as well - just a subtle reminder that thyme was there.

The ramekins weren't exactly dip-worthy, but with a couple of small spoons in them, we were able to just spoon some of the cheese or the mustard up separately.

It was delicious.

I ended up having bread-sticks with cheese and dijon as my supper.


I made some extra bread dough, so also baked an actual LOAF too, in addition to the bread-sticks.  Here are some pics of that (just for shits and giggles):