From October to January, my life is packed with food gifts: The sort I make from scratch, and the sort of small batch treats I source for Eat Boutique. I personally pack thousands of gift boxes filled with boutique-style food during these three months and I love every moment.
All these packages most definitely take a toll on my holiday entertaining schedule. I only host one, maybe two, parties each season and make sure the preparations require little to no effort. I always assemble a big winter salad — filled with some citrus segments, toasty nuts, and root vegetables — to serve alongside a simple roast. I pull some preserves from my larder to make jam-filled tarts or maybe a bottle of cider syrup canned in September for celebratory bourbon cocktails in December. And I always end the evening the French way with a little cheese, but invoke my American tastes by making it quite large, extravagant, and glorious.
My holiday cheese platter is filled with five to seven cheeses, from creamy and restrained to funky and totally aromatic. As a New Englander, I’m partial to Massachusetts and Vermont cheeses, but I never discriminate when it comes to good aged dairy. A well-rounded cheese platter always has variety and is stacked with flavor opposites: a strong cheddar sits opposite a creamy brie; a funky camembert sits opposite a tangy goat cheese; there’s always a blue cheese to play against some nutty pecans or walnuts. Um, is it too early in the week of a cheese plate right now, this very moment, please?!
Sometimes, there’s a leftover wheel (quelle horror!) and it’s often the camembert. Camembert leftovers are actually a delight to me, as I make this snazzy little dish taught to me by a favorite French friend. It consists of just two delicious ingredients: camembert cheese and apple brandy, also known as Calvados. I make it once a year as a dinner treat but it would be perfect for tonight’s cocktail hour, promise.
You know you want to…
Camembert and Calvados
Serves: 2 to 3
- 1 Camembert cheese in a round wood box
- 2 tablespoons Calvados (apple brandy)
- 1 baguette (or any bread you like dipped in cheese)
- 2 endive (or any vegetable you like dipped in cheese)
- 1 piece parchment paper
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the Camembert from the little wood round it comes packaged in. Slip in a round of parchment paper (not wax paper) cut in a circle about twice the size of the wood round container. Place the Camembert back into the wood round.
- Place the round wood container on a cookie sheet and then in the oven. Cook until soft and gooey, about 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the baguette and prepare the endive by cleaning, trimming and separating the leaves. Place all on a serving platter.
- Once cooked, remove the cheese from the oven and place it on your serving platter.
- Just before serving, pour Calvados onto the hot cheese. Enjoy by dipping bread slices and endive leads into the cheese.
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