I saved the best for last. Of all the secret ingredients of 2010, marmalade has been my favorite. It really does add that secret oomph, and it's nearly impossible to match its depth of flavor. And it is my favorite not least of all because I don't usually like it (although I have loved reading the comments of those of you who do!). It just goes to show you (or rather, it just goes to show me) that one should always try to eat new things. Perhaps I've found my New Year's resolution.
And while we're on the topic of New Year's, this is about that time where you might be digging for great cocktail party and entertaining recipes. For me, I could eat my whole day's worth of meals in tiny, punchy bites at a finger food cocktail party. Canapés and cheese plates are my idea of culinary heaven. So I combined them.
It is customary to serve marmalade with some of the stinkier cheeses, because its combined sweet-tart kick is the perfect foil to a delightfully overwhelming cheese. Here, I use Epoisses, a textbook soft and stinky cheese. It has a pungent, almost peppery, smell and flavor, and it is all held together by a thin orange rind. Once you puncture the rind, the cheese starts oozing everywhere. I top golden-toasted strips of bread with golden-orange marmalade and golden-orange-rinded cheese, for a delightfully monochromatic, very not run-of-the-mill cheese stick. And if a diet is on your list of New Year's resolutions, don't forget: those start the morning after.
The combination also make the perfect grilled cheese for stinky cheese lovers like myself. Find that recipe at the end of this one.
About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the French in a Flash series for Serious Eats.
- 3 1/2-inch slice of white farmhouse bread, crust removed, and each slice cut into 3 equal rectangles, or 9 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices of baguette
- 1 tablespoon clarified butter, plus more as needed (You can buy this as "ghee" from some stores. Flavorless oil is a better substitute than melted butter.)
- 4 1/2 teaspoons good quality orange marmalade (recommended: Bonne Maman)
- 3 1/2 ounces Epoisses cheese, cut into 9 rectangles (do not cut it until the last minute)
Prepare the bread. Melt the clarified butter in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the bread, 3 pieces at a time, 1 minute one each side, until crisp and golden. Remove to a plate, and repeat with the remaining bread, adding more butter as needed.
Another less traditional, if more sensible, way to prepare the bread is to preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush both sides of 9 thin slices of baguette with flavorless oil or melted clarified butter, and arrange in a single layer on a small rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Spread each toast with 1/2 teaspoon marmalade, and top with 1 rectangle of Epoisses. Set on a platter, and serve.
You can also make this as a grilled cheese, but using 2 1/2-inch slices of farmhouse bread per person. Spread the outside of the bread with room temperature unsalted butter, and the inside with 1 tablespoon orange marmalade. Spread 2 ounces of Epoisses between the slices, and stick together. Toast in a skillet on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until the outside is golden and the inside is absolutely runny. Repeat for as many sandwiches as you need.