Brie with Truffle Honey

We plan on eating a whole lot of cheese this fall, and then we’ll talk abut it here. Sarah kicked off the cheese-fest with a nut crusted brie, and while there are many different cheeses in the world, I couldn’t help but share another delicious brie idea. Next time a hard cheese, we promise.

I love the flavor of truffles, and whenever there is a truffled this or that on a menu, I’m going to order it. My last truffle indulgence was the delicious Lamb Bolognese with Truffled Ricotta Gnucchi at The Pullman in Glenwood Springs, CO. So good! And what a great guy Calder is by indulging my truffle love – he hates the flavor (thinks it tastes like gasoline!), but he knew that a jar of truffle honey would be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

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The Honey

Truffle honey is made by adding shaved truffles to honey and then heating it to speed up the extraction of the truffle flavor. You should be able to find some at gourmet cheese shops, but it’s also easy to buy online. It’s not cheap, but a single jar goes a long way. The jar I have has an intense flavor, so just like dishes that use truffle oil or real truffles, this may not be for everyone. Of course, if you know a truffle lover, I guarantee you that they will love this!

Until receiving this gift, I never had or heard of truffle honey and wasn’t sure what to do with it, but quickly discovered that it’s commonly paired with cheese and bread. But what cheese? It seems that everyone has their favorite pairing, some swear by a hard and strong cheeses like parmesan or cheddar while others gush over a soft and mild brie. I decided that I didn’t want to pair the honey with a strong flavored cheese, so I went with a relatively mild and rich brie. Once I had my cheese, I knew that the soft cheese/honey combination was calling out for a chewy bread that wouldn’t crumble with each bite. So I threw a baguette into my cart and we had the makings for a perfect appetizer.

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The Cheese

Bries are soft cheeses from France. They’re made from cow’s milk and surrounded by a hard, moldy or “bloomy“, edible rind. The mold will have a white to light yellow color (not the blues of the molds that come to mind when talking about blue cheese). The mold is essential to creating the cheese as it works to break down the fat and proteins of the milk and cream. Bries vary by the amount of cream used to make them, you may see “double” or “triple” on the label signifying increasing amounts of cream. Increasing the cream level increases the richness and buttery-smooth texture of the final cheese.

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When picking a brie you want to look for a “ripe” cut. When brie is perfectly ripe, it won’t be runny or pungent (there are other soft cheeses that are made to be purposefully pungent, brie isn’t one of them). As a brie ripens, you may notice that the wheel of cheese will bulge slightly, especially when cut. You’ll likely buy a wedge from a larger wheel, which makes picking easier. Look for a wedge with a uniform interior consistency that is slowly falling out of the rind. For comparison, an unripe wedge will have a firm interior (or combination firm and soft) that is the same shape as the wedge, i.e. not expanding beyond the original cut.

There are a variety of bries on the market, and I think Supreme is a great, basic example that’s affordable and readily available at many grocers (including Trader Joes if you’re looking for a source).

Serving Suggestion

Once you have your cheese, honey, and bread, serving is easy. We placed everything on a marble board with utensils for self-service. A bread knife for the baguette, a spreader for the cheese, and a small spoon for the honey. That way everyone could personalize their serving. Calder could skip the honey, I could pile it on (and then eat it straight from the spoon), and our civilized guests could take as much or little as they wanted with each slice.

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If you have the opportunity, I hope you’ll give truffle honey a try. And with the upcoming holiday/entertaining season, this makes a fantastic surprise to any cheese plate or gift for your truffle-loving friends!

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Quick Pickles

If you’ve been following along, you may have heard and seen that our farm share started. I’m still in disbelief that we were able to get a share that is this awesome so late in the season! And now I’m remembering what it’s like to have (the wonderful) pressure of a fridge full of veggies pushing me to get creative with dinner.

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In this first box we received your typical fall fare: a few bunches of kale and chard, potatoes, squash, etc. What I didn’t expect were the couple of cucumbers and the big beautiful bunch of dill blossoms. I thought cucumber season had passed, and I’ve never received the dill blossoms, so this was a new and unexpected surprise. I have to admit that I have a tendency to buy cucumbers and forget about them, but I didn’t want to let that happen this time. So I turned to one of my favorite easy ways to use up those cukes in a jiffy: overnight pickles! We don’t buy pickles often (and when we do they tend to sit in the fridge for months), but these are different. They are so fresh and delicious,  barely lasting a week in our house.

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This recipe comes from my mom, but I adjusted it to make use of what I had on hand: eliminating the green pepper and adding the dill blossoms and a bit of fresh dill. Do you hear that? The blossoms were totally a bonus, this recipe is just as delicious without the fresh herb, but as you’ll see, they sure add a touch of something beautiful to the jar.

Ingredients

  • 3 average-sized cucumbers (here I used 2 large)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • optional – dill blossoms

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How-to

  • Slice the cucumbers, green pepper, and onion, and mix them in a bowl with the salt and celery seed. Let this mixture stand for one hour.
  • Mix together the sugar and lemon juice and add it to the cucumber mixture. Add the sliced lemon and stir.
  • Cover the container and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating. I like to go in there and give it a stir once in a while, or if using a jar I just give it a gentle shake, slowly turning it upside down. The juices may not cover your mixture right away, but they will as the 24 hours progresses.

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The blossoms are a really flavorful part of the dill plant. I added a few to a warm veggie mixture as it cooked, and they imparted a fantastic but not overpowering dill flavor. I found that they did a same thing here ~ creating a batch of pickles that had a sweet dill flavor. I added blossoms that weren’t fully open to my jar before filling it with the cucumber mixture (I’m not sure if there’s any difference in the flavor imparted by open versus closed blossoms?).

While the pickles taste delicious, I think I get just as much fun out of opening my fridge and seeing this beautiful jar sitting on the shelf (for the whole 2-3 days that it’s there!).

Ack, ok, maybe it’s even more fun seeing little A gobble them up and then sign for more with celery seeds sticking to his face!

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Nut Crusted Brie

Apples are our ingredient of the season.  This recipe is perfect served and garnished with a thinly sliced apple. This is also the first of a few cheese plates that we’ll be serving up this fall.  If you are vegan, we apologize in advance.

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Calling all cheese lovers! This recipe goes out to you…

Autumn is the perfect time to turn on the oven, wouldn’t you agree?  I love heating up my house a bit and making something warm to snack on.  This nut crusted brie is ridiculously simple and it’s classy as all get out.  Need a quick hors d’oeuvre? Having a few friends come over? Wanna feel better about eating an entire wedge of cheese?  Need snacks for Sunday night football?  All those and more are perfectly good reasons to roll your brie in crushed nuts and pop it in the oven. This takes ten minutes max (and only about a minute of active work) and you’re likely to have at least half the ingredients on hand.

Ingredients:

  • Brie (I used Auguste Le Petit. You can use whatever you’re comfortable with)
  • Buttermilk (or heavy cream)
  • Egg
  • Nuts of choice (I used almonds+walnuts. Macadamia would work well.)
  • Apple
  • Baguette

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 300° and line a baking sheet with tinfoil.
  • Pulse the nuts in a blender or food processor until finely chopped, but not powdery.  I used about a half cup of nuts for a medium sized wedge. Set the bowl of nuts aside.
  • Whisk together one egg with a half cup of buttermilk.
  • Coat the brie wedge or wheel in the buttermilk and then press it firmly into the nuts. Repeat on each side of the brie making sure to completely coat it.
  • Delicately transfer the brie to the baking sheet and put it in the oven for 5-8 minutes.  You want the brie to be very warm, but not a melted puddle.  A full wheel will take about 10 minutes.
  • While the brie is baking, thinly slice the baguette and arrange on a baking sheet.  Put the bread in the oven while the brie is baking.  If you like your bread slightly browned, once the brie is done baking, turn the oven onto broil and toast the baguette.  Watch the bread closely so it doesn’t burn!
  • Thinly slice an apple or two and serve it along with the brie and baguette.

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I love this recipe for fall. Apples, nuts and warm cheeses, I don’t think there is a better combination. Unless you’re talking drinks, then I’m all about the fresh apple juice, cinnamon and vodka…

 

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