Saturday 18 August 2018

Baked goat's cheese wrapped in walnut pastry with fig relish

 

Honey & Co's book
Honey & Co's book

The award-winning chefs behind the Honey & Co empire, Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, present simple and delicious Middle Eastern dishes that are easy to make and a pleasure to serve

Baked goat's cheese wrapped in walnut pastry with fig relish

This one can be served at the start of a meal or at the end of it, as a very special cheese course - the nutty, crumbly pastry and the oozy, melting cheese inside make for a timeless combo. You can make the relish here, it's easy enough, or use any fruity chutney you like. Change the fruit with the seasons - grapes work well, as do poached pears or quince, but figs, of course, are always the best.

Suitable for 6-8 as a starter or cheese course

Ingredients

2 small goat's cheese rounds (about 100g each)

For the pastry casing 70g walnuts

70g butter

1 tbsp light brown sugar

½ tsp sea salt

140g spelt flour

1 egg white

1 egg yolk, for egg-washing

For the fig relish 6-8 ripe figs, diced (about 400g)

80g light brown sugar or golden caster sugar

2 bay leaves

A pinch of chilli flakes

1 star anise

60ml red wine vinegar

To serve (optional) 1 bag rocket, washed in iced water

6-8 fresh figs, quartered

60g roasted walnut halves

A drizzle of olive oil

A sprinkling of sea salt

Method

1. To make the pastry, place the walnuts in a small food processor and blitz to a rough crumb consistency. Add the butter, sugar, salt and flour and blitz till the mixture starts resembling bread crumbs again, then add the egg white and blitz once more until you have a ball of pastry.

2. Remove from the food processor and divide into two balls. Flatten them onto the work surface with the palm of your hand to create two rounds, each about 10cm in diameter, more or less. Place one goat's cheese in the centre of each round and, using your hands, lift the pastry up the sides to wrap it. Don't worry if the pastry cracks a little; it is very pliable and you can patch as needed.

3. Lift each one up, and press and smoothe the pastry around the cheese to create a solid casing. Pinch off any excess pastry and use the trimmings to create a pattern for the top, if you like (you can create a little leaf by hand or cut out a specific shape). Pat the pastry down all around so you have a clean, sealed finish.

4. Top each parcel with the decoration made from the trimmings and a walnut half (if you wish), then place on a small tray, lined with baking paper, in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes before baking. You can leave these in the fridge for a couple of days to bake fresh when your guests arrive.

5. To make the relish, place all the ingredients in a small saucepan with 50ml of water and set on a high heat. Bring to the boil and stir well. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 8-10 minutes until thick. Remove from the heat.

6. When you are ready to bake, heat your oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6. Add a splash of water and a pinch of salt to the egg yolk you set aside earlier, and mix well to create a thin glaze. Carefully brush this all over the cold pastry (apart from the base), which will give the end result a nice shine. Place in the centre of the oven for about 15-17 minutes to bake to a lovely, light golden colour.

7. Remove the pastry parcels from the oven and place on a serving platter. Add the fresh rocket, cut figs and roasted walnut halves to your platter and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Serve with the relish on the side. This is best eaten while the cheese is still hot and oozy, but we have been known to eat a cold half at midnight, and it still tastes delicious.

Irish Independent

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