The sweet taste of spring

“Cheese!”

This is one of the first three words that come into my mind when I think about France, together with wine and romance (is there a woman who didn’t dream at least once about strolling along the Seine, holding hands with her loved one at sunset?).

Cheese is a very important element of the French cuisine and it has been served as dessert, accompanied by spiced wine and lumps of hardened honey, since the Middle Ages. No banquet among the aristocracy was complete without the “issue de table”, as dessert used to be called back then.

Today, “fromage” is part of the national French cuisine, which consists of three courses: appetizer, main course, cheese or dessert.  There are so many types of cheese that it’s very hard to choose from or identify most of them. During my last trip to Cherbourg I have actually bought some cheese in a special tiny shop and I was overwhelmed by the large selection (and the smell!).

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France produces over 400 distinct types of cheese among which 53 are classified, protected and regulated under the French law. This means that the product is certified to be made in their place or origin using traditional production methods. This applies to different products like cheese, wine, ham, even to some spirits.

As an example, the Roquefort cheese was the first product to be protected by a parliamentary decree, all the way back in 1411! For a cheese to be called Roquefort it is necessary to be made from the milk of a specific type of sheep and then to be maturated in the natural caves just outside the town of Roquefort-sur-Souzlon, in the Aveyron region.

Two of the most famous French cheeses are Camembert and Brie.

 

Camembert

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Camembert is probably the most popular French cheese, known worldwide and produced in Normandy. It is a soft cheese, creamy, made with unpasteurized cow milk. It has been first made in 1791 by a farmer from Normandy who followed the advice of a priest from Brie region.

Camembert takes about 3 weeks to ripen, before being wrapped in paper and placed in wooden boxes. A ripe Camembert is soft on the inside, covered with a white crust which is eaten.

Camembert has deep roots into the French culture. It has been mentioned in the literature many times by famous writers like Marcel Proust, Emile Zola or Pierre Chaine, but also in art by Salvador Dali. Camembert also has its role in history, as part of the iron rations given to the French soldiers in the World War 1 but also as one of Napoleon’s favourite cheeses.

 

Brie

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Brie is a soft cheese made out of cow’s milk, coming from the department of Seine-et-Marne, the old Brie region where it originated. It is produced with whole or semi-skimmed milk and aged for at least four to five weeks. To make the variety of Brie Noir which French people enjoy having for breakfast with their coffee, the cheese is matured for up to a year until it becomes crumbly and dark colored.

There are two main varieties of Brie, certified by the French government, and these are: Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun. They both come with a white soft crust which is eaten, but Brie de Melun tends to have a stronger flavour and a more pungent smell. The Brie de Meaux dates since the 8th century and it used to be known under the name of “Kinds Cheese” because of its popularity on the nobility’s tables.

 

After I’ve published my article about the best dishes to try while visiting Cherbourg, Le Rustique has sent me a selection of their Camembert and Brie challenging me to recreate their suggested recipes developed together with food blogger Lavender & Lovage. Celebrating spring, the recipes combine the creamy textures of the Le Rustique Camembert and Le Rustique Brie de Caractère with the sweet taste of honey.

So while I am enjoying a Camembert and hazelnuts parcel with fruits and honey chutney, I will share below the other recipes with you.

 

5 from 5 votes
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Le Rustique Camembert and Apple Scones with Honey Butter

Delectable Le Rustique Camembert and Apple Scones are on the table in less than half an hour and are perfect when served with honey butter. Why not also serve as part of an afternoon tea or as an accompaniment to soups, stews or casseroles, or even as part of a “Ploughman’s Lunch”.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 34 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Honey butter:

  • 5 tbsp runny honey flower or lavender honey
  • 150 g unsalted butter

Scones:

  • 450 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 100 g butter cut into small pieces
  • 100 g Le Rustique Camembert diced
  • 1 small apple peeled, cored and very finely diced or grated
  • 300 ml milk mixed with 1 large beated egg
  • poppy seeds

Instructions

  1. To make the honey butter: beat the honey and the butter with a hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy. Set to one side until needed.

  2. Pre-heat oven to 220C/450F/Gas mark 7 and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and then rub in the butter until it resembles bread crumbs.
  4. Stir in the Le Rustique Camembert and apple and add just enough of the milk and egg mixture to make a soft dough, it should not be too sticky. Reserve the remaining milk and egg mixture for the glaze.
  5. Gather into a ball and place in a floured work surface; roll out gently to a thickness of about 2cm and stamp out the scones with a 5cm scone cutter. Gather together all the offcuts and continue to stamp out scones until all the dough is used up.
  6. Place the scones onto the prepared baking sheet and brush them with the egg and milk mixture before scattering some poppy seeds over the top.
  7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are well risen and golden brown.
  8. Cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before serving warm with the honey butter.
5 from 5 votes
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Le Rustique Camembert and Hazelnut Parcels with Quick Fruit and Honey Chutney

Using ready-made puff pastry means that these delicious Le Rustique Camembert and Hazelnut Parcels are perfect for an easy mid-week family supper, or for a lazy Saturday lunch. Shallots and hazelnuts are gently fried in a little olive oil for a tasty twist to compliment the Camembert; the fruit and honey chutney is the final “pièce de résistance” for these flaky cheese pies, which cuts through the richness of the filling.
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4 parcels

Ingredients

Fruit and Honey Chutney

  • 500 g apples and pears cored and finely diced
  • 1 onion peeled and finely diced
  • 50 g sultanas
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 120 ml runny honey Acacia
  • 150 ml cider vinegar

Parcels

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 40 g hazelnuts crushed
  • 2-3 shallots peeled and finely diced
  • 500 g block ready-made puff pastry
  • 250 g Le Rustique Camembert cut into 4 pieces
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 egg beaten

Instructions

  1. To make the chutney: place all the ingredients into a large saucepan and simmer over a medium to low heat for about 30 to 45 minutes, until the fruit is cooked and there is no liquid left – stirring all the time. Set to one side to cool and thicken once cooked.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the crushed hazelnuts and the shallots/onion; fry them over a medium heat until the shallots/onion are soft and the nuts are toasted. Set to one side.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 220C/450F/Gas mark 7 and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  4. Cut the pastry block into 4 and place them on a floured work surface, roll each piece out into a square, about 15cm x 15cm. Divide the hazelnut and shallots/onion mixture between the 4 pastry squares.
  5. Cut Le Rustique Camembert into thick slices and place on top of the mixture and then bring the corners up to the middle of the parcel, securing the pastry in the middle with the fresh rosemary sprigs. Place the parcels on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Brush the beaten egg over the tops of the parcels and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pastry has risen and the parcels are golden brown.
  7. Serve immediately with the fruit and honey chutney, and salad for a light luncheon or supper dish.
5 from 5 votes
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Le Rustique Camembert “Scotch Eggs” Two Ways with Honey and Mustard Dip

These delicious “Scotch Eggs” hide a cheesy secret inside! Two delicious flavours, herby pork sausage meat and black pudding, each wrapped around a cube of Le Rustique Camembert which after being deep-fried ooze seductively. Dunk these into a tangy, sweet honey and mustard dip for a truly cheesy treat.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 12 pieces

Ingredients

“Scotch Eggs”

  • x6 (400g) high meat content herb pork sausages skinned
  • x6 (400g) black puddings skinned
  • 250 g Le Rustique Camembert cut into 12 cubes
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 50-70 g fine bread crumbs

To fry

  • Vegetable oil for frying

Dip

  • 125 ml runny honey Flower honey
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Take each sausage or black pudding and flatten them out into a large thin round; place Le Rustique Camembert cube into the middle and bring the sides up to completely cover the cheese, making sure there are no gaps or holes in the sausage or black pudding. Gently shape them into an egg shape in the palm of your hand.
  2. Dip the “Scotch Egg” into the beaten egg and then cover it with the bread crumbs; set to one side on a plate whilst you make the rest.
  3. Fill a wok or a deep-frying pan to about 10cms in depth with vegetable oil and then heat it until smoking hot; add 3 to 4 “Scotch Eggs”, do not overcrowd the pan, and cook over a medium heat for about 4 minutes, turning them over half way through cooking. If they start to brown too quickly, turn the heat down slightly.
  4. Once they are cooked, drain them and keep them warm whilst you cook the remaining ones.
  5. To make the dip: whisk the honey, mustard and olive oil together to form an emulsified dip.
  6. Serve immediately with the honey and mustard dip.
5 from 5 votes
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Le Rustique Brie Tartlets with Honey Onion Relish

These gorgeous little Le Rustique Brie tartlets use rounds of bread in place of pastry and are so easy to make. Tangy honey onion relish adds a lovely depth to the crisp cases and melted cheese, before they are dressed to serve with chopped chives for the final flourish. The honey onion relish can be made ahead of time and keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 12 small tartlets

Ingredients

Honey Onion Relish

  • 50 g butter
  • 2 red onions peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp runny honey Acacia
  • 1 tbsp red wine viegar

Tartlets

  • 12 slices Brown bread
  • 50 g softened butter
  • 100-120 g Le Rustique Brie de Caractère cut into 12 pieces
  • Chopped fresh chives

Instructions

  1. To make the honey onion relish: melt the butter in a pan and add the onions; sauté the onions for 4 to 5 minutes and then add the remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring all the time to stop it sticking, for 20 to 30 minutes until it is thick. Cool and set to one side until needed.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.
  3. Using a 5cm to 6cm cutter, stamp out 12 circles from the sliced bread, and butter them on one side only. Place the buttered sides down into a 12-hole bun-tin, pressing them to create a tartlet shape.
  4. Add a teaspoon of honey onion relish into each bread tartlet base, and then place the pieces of Le Rustique Brie de Caractère on top.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and the bottom of the bread tartlet bases are crispy and golden brown.
  6. Gently ease them out of the tray and sprinkle chopped fresh chives over them before serving.

 

Disclaimer: Please note that I received a Le Rustique cheese hamper for free to create the recipes with. However, all comments and opinions in this article are my own.

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

37 Comments

  1. Yes, fromage, cheese…. equals FRANCE! I love any recipe that involves cheese I just wish it was a superfood and healthy part of a diet!

    1. Actually cheese is good for you, it’s a great source of calcium and vitamins. As for being part of a diet…. I wish that too! 😀

  2. I have to admit I don’t remember much about going to France when I was a child, bar trying new cheeses, they do offer some amazing ones. I love the sound of your Le Rustique Brie Tartlets they sound absolutely delicious.

  3. Brie is my favourite although I do love Camembert as well. I really like that they sent you a cheese hamper and you were able to create your own recipes out of it. Those Camembert scones sound amazing x

  4. I think one of the main reasons I haven’t gone to France yet is because I’d gain 20 lbs by trying everything. Maybe that’s why I love cheese so much, because I’m destined to go to France lol.

  5. We’re huge cheese lovers at our house. In fact our favorite restaurant is called The Cheese Shop. They make all of their own and a couple time a month we stop in for lunch. Like yours they’re super fun and creative. Adding the scones to this weekend’s list .. my husband will go crazy for them!

  6. I love cheese, it’s a big favourite in my household. We usually have a random selection of cheeses in the fridge at all times. The scones sound absolutely delicious, I will have to give those a go

  7. I absolutely love Camembert and Brie but I think I’m allergic to camembert 🙁 So as much as I’d love to try the other recipes, I think the brie tartles will be first on my list to try!

  8. Mmmm cheese, I’d never really tried french cheese until a couple of years ago, when we had a culture day at work and they brough us cheese and fresh bread and while we don’t really buy it in I always enjoy it when we do. I love the sound of those hazelnut parcles. Anything hazel nutty has me sold

  9. That’s really amazing. I had fun reading about the background of these cheeses. I appreciate the recipes as well. It would be nice to bring out the cheese’s flavors in these different dishes.

  10. My husband loves cheese and so do I. It’s always nice to learn more about the things that we enjoy. I think it’s great that you were sent these wonderful cheeses so you could share with us the recipes that you enjoy.

  11. Cheese is an interesting approach to ringing in the spring season. This article does have some good recipes and make me want cheese and crackers and some wine.

  12. Who in the right mind will ask for cheese when his dad goes on a trip to France asks the 15 year old kid for his want of a gift. That would be me. Yes I am going to try these recipes this weekend provided I get good quality cheese which is a little difficult in my city.

  13. Now I know one of the best places to get cheese is France(: … I love cheese cakes most. Nice cooking instructions on making Le Rustique Camembert and Apple Scones with Honey Butter as well(:

  14. I love cheese and I always try out the various types of Cheese much to the dismay of my guy who hates it! Lolz!
    Love the cheese based recipes. Long back I made a simple pizza with 3 types of cheese in it, for a romantic evening!
    I’ve tried Brie and loved it! Yet to try Camembert!

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