Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Culinary Christmas Spirit

Around this time last year, my dad took me to a gastro-pub-type-place in East Dulwich called The Palmerston to celebrate the end of term and get into the general Christmas spirit. We had a great time, and culinary-wise I tried a whole bunch of things I'd never had before.

This weekend, Jamie and I decided that we'd organise afternoon tea as a break from the ridiculous amount of work we both have at the moment, and I decided to recreate/adapt the starter I'd had and loved so much at the Palmerston last year. The result was pretty darn good.

The original was a breaded goats' cheese served with chicory leaves, chestnuts, pomegranate seeds and cranberry sauce. My version used walnut kernels instead of chestnuts (not in the picture because I forgot about them 'til we'd already started eating) and a mixture of spinach and pea shoots instead of chicory (as chicory was not to be found in all of Egham/Englefield Green). And it was awesome, as well as being incredibly easy to make with not much actual cooking involved.

- a pot of soft goats' cheese each. I think the original probably used rounds, but actually I thought this was a more airy, less stodgy way of doing it.
- 1 egg
- white breadcrumbs
- few sprigs fresh thyme (dried would do)
- black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and oil a baking tray.
2. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks, then mix together with the breadcrumbs and pepper in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg.
3. Using your hands, mould the goats' cheese into flat cylinders. Dip it in the beaten egg, then into the breadcrumbs so the cheese is coated.
4. Place on the baking tray and stick it in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden.

Serving (in case you're as persnickety as me):
1. Grab a teaspoon of cranberry sauce and dollop it on the opposite side of the plate, then use the back of the teaspoon to drag it into a cool curvy line.
2. Wash the spinach and place on the opposite side of the plate to the sauce. Half your pomegranate and use the tip of the knife to pick out the seeds, then scatter over the spinach along with the pea shoots and walnut kernels.
3. Whap on the baked goats' cheese and present to hungry guests.

Of course, proper afternoon tea requires cake as well, and not gonna lie - the ones I made were pretty darn good. So watch this space - they'll be following soon.

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