Friday, January 18, 2008

cheese and fruit creations...

Here at orenji catering, there's nothing we like better than fruit and cheese. It is simple, fresh, and most importantly, easy. Fresh fruit and a selection of cheeses are the perfect food for entertaining-- best enjoyed with a balanced glass of wine!
We recently prepared a simple assortment and three fruit creations. The cheeses we highlighted included a cave-aged English cheddar with caramelized onions, a fresh chevre which we infused with dried cranberries and rolled in fresh toasted pecans, white Stilton with dried apricots, Explorateur (a semi-soft mold ripened cheese), and a sharp domestic cheddar.
Our fruit spreads sampled fall and winter fruits, re-imagining and converting them into the perfect accompaniments for our cheese selections.

The first of three fruit spreads began with fresh delicious black mission figs. The mission fig is a particular strain of the fig fruit, locally grown, that was introduced to California by Franciscan missionaries. We cooked them slowly with some balsamic vinegar-- the perfect contrast to their inherent sugar. Once the figs had been softened, we added bittersweet dutch cocoa, pureeing the fruit into a deep and chocolately, but not overly sweet, smooth fruit spread-- perfect with both the hard and soft cheese!
Our next creation utilized quince-- a devilishly hard fruit that is often left on the tree until frost or the beginning stages of natural decay soften it enough to work with. Fresh quince can be used prior to these softening techniques by poaching slightly in boiling water prior to peeling. Astringent and highly perfumed, these white fleshed fruits turn red as they soften. For our quince, we sliced and poached them in a sweet white wine, loaded with winter spices-- cinnamon, star anise-- peppercorns, citrus peel, and fresh rosemary. The result is a soft, perfumed fruit in a deliciously robust syrup!
The last of our three fruit preparations began with large and succulent Medjool dates, grown locally, as is our preference. We slowly simmered the dates with port wine, cane sugar, and spices until a chunky, sweet, and aromatic "chutney"-like preparation remained. Deep in taste, slightly astringent, and deliciously sweet, these dates are perfect with cheese!
Our cheeses and fruits were enjoyed by all, with a mug of freshly mulled wine-- a perfect feast for a chilly winter night!

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