Thursday, September 5, 2013

Baguette with Brie, Fig, & Honey

My sister and I go grocery shopping every Sunday morning. It's part of our weekend routine. Even during our kitchen renovation, we still pop into the market to pick up at minimum, fresh vegetables and fruits for the week.

A few weeks ago, we walked into the store and guess what we discovered? It's fig season! It's an exciting thing when it's just an ordinary shopping day and you find out that there are fresh figs in the produce section.

Figs are amazingly sweet and pair well with so many different ingredients, e.g. cured meats, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, almonds, chocolate, the list goes on. But one of my favorite combinations: figs with cheese, which is what today's entry is all about.
The list of ingredients is rather simple:
baguette
brie cheese
fresh figs
honey

I love a good brie. If you've never had brie before, shame on you! Just kidding. But I do recommend it. It's a soft cow's milk cheese and it's creamy with a mild flavor and the rind is really earthy. The rind is actually mold - that's how the cheese gets its flavor - and some people dislike it so they remove it but I quite enjoy it. It's best served at room temperature.

When you're picking out a brie at the store, pick up a wedge and check to make sure the white mold is just around the outside. Then, give the cheese a gentle squeeze (rhyme!). The outside should feel firm but the soft center should bulge out. If it feels too firm and doesn't have any give, it's not mature enough yet. If it's too soft, it's too mature. Stick with Goldilocks and pick one that's "just right." If you're buying an entire wheel of brie (maybe you're making baked brie), you can still do the squeeze test.
I love the colors of a fig. The purples, browns, greens, and pinks are beautiful. This would make a cheeky painting (major hint: look out for tomorrow's post).

When choosing figs, you want to pick ones that are slightly soft but still plump. The stems should be firm (instead of wiggly or missing) and the fruit should be free of bruises. Once you bring your figs home, try to use them right away because figs go bad rather quickly. If you need to store them a bit longer, you can pop them in the fridge but chilling the fruit does change the flavor a little. When you're ready to use them, give them a quick and gentle rinse under running water, pat dry with paper towels, and then pop off the stems (either with a knife or with a swift pinching and twisting motion). And then they're ready to slice or eat as is.
Honey really compliments the flavors of the fig. Both have a floral sweetness so they are a great match.
At first, I didn't feel like it was necessary to explain the steps of this "recipe" but then I thought, maybe my photo diary was poorly done. So, let me summarize, you know, just in case. Start by slicing the baguette (on a bias for presentation purposes). Top with pieces of brie, pieces of fig, and a drizzle of honey. The final step is to enjoy. If you want, you can toast the baguette but because the fig is so delicate, I didn't want the crunch of the bread to be overpowering. But hey, you be your own chef and you do what you want.

The combination of textures and flavors is a treat. The chewy and slightly crusty baguette, the soft and slightly salty brie, the tender and juicy figs, and the sticky sweet honey come together to create the perfect breakfast and/or appetizer and/or snack. For an added dimension of flavor, try a little bit of fresh cracked pepper too.
xoxo.

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