Sunday, February 06, 2005

Very Posh Cheese & Biscuits

Potted Wensleydale Cheese with Mulled Port Wine Jelly and Home-baked Digestive biscuits
This post includes a recipe plus further recipe links

This is an entry for Paper Chef, February 2005
Ingredients selected for this month's challenge are:
wheat flour - cinnamon - creme fraiche - oranges.

for bigger cheese & biscuits, click on the picture to enlarge

When I first read the paper chef ingredients for February, there was one thing I couldn't get out of my mind: "orange and cinnamon makes for great mulled wine". After a while pondering on it, the idea of posh cheese and biscuits formed. For some time I had been toying with the idea of making some potted cheese and attempting to bake Digestives (which are wholewheat, semisweet British cookies that pair perfectly with cheese and can only be bought in specialist stores Stateside). Paper Chef presented me with an excellent excuse to put these English-centric ideas into practice and pair them with a homemade Mulled Port Wine Jelly.

for extra creamy cheesiness, click on the picture to enlarge

Mulled Port Wine Jelly with Orange & Cinnamon, Recipe Link
For this conserve, I used the recipe here. I followed the recipe precisely until it came to pectin section. The instructions on the recipe didn't match the guidelines in the pectin box. I ended up using only 1oz of pectin which was more than enough. The pectin didn't blend well into the liquid, so to get rid of any lumps, I used a hand blender. By itself, the jelly tastes a little too sweet for my tastes. Next time I would start by trying to reduce the amount of sugar by at least a cup.

Will it drive you potty? click on the picture to enlarge

Potted Wensleydale Cheese with Creme Fraiche, Recipe
3 oz good quality Wensleydale cheese, grated
1 dessert spoon of creme fraiche
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 glug of dry sherry
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 oz of butter

Stir nutmeg, sherry, seasoning, creme fraiche and cheese together. Mix well. Transfer to a ramekin dish. Pat down and smooth the top. Melt the butter and pour over the top to seal. Refrigerate at least until butter is fully hardened before consuming.

a classy way to serve cheese. click on the picture to enlarge

Digestive Biscuits, made with whole wheat flour, Recipe Link
I used the recipe here to make the biscuits. It was easy to follow, fast and successful. Don't worry about kneading your dough a little to combine it. My second, more handled batch, turned out much better. I also left the second batch on a tray in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking, so maybe that contributed to the improved results too.

Taste Test
Tasted separately, each of these three things were pretty good. Combined together, they were dynamite. Mild but tasty, creamy, cheese, offset by a tinge of mulled sweetness, on a wheaty, crunchy biscuit. Perfect! I couldn't resist eating 3 for my late breakfast, even though I'd already had a large slice of toast and marmite a little while earlier.
I wasn't even going to offer one to Fred who usually only likes his cheese French and melted and who doesn't care for sweet things, especially when paired with something savoury. But he loved the smell of the cookies and asked if he could try, so I gave in. I waited, wide eyed, whilst he formed an opinion. "Interesting", he mused, "I like it, it's pretty good, especially the cookie which has a sandy texture. Actually the cookie is excellent, I love it, I am even going to eat one for breakfast." (NB Fred doesn't do breakfast)

How about Stilton or a sharp English Cheddar?
I think this recipe might be really great at Christmas time, using Stilton in place of the Wensleydale. Apart from the seasonal connotations that cinnamon, oranges, Stilton and mulled port wine have, I think Stilton might make an even tangier and more contrasting accompaniment to the sweet jelly. A very sharp cheddar would be good too.

Read the full round up of Paper Chef entries here

Further Reading
The Digestive Biscuit by Nice Cup of Tea & A Sit Down
Definition of a Digestive Biscuit.
Visit The Wensleydale Dairy.
Gromit's favourite cheese
The history of Port, a popular British after-dinner bevvy.

Very Posh Cheese & Biscuits


  • At 7/2/05 10:51, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, everything sounds (and looks, of course) SO good! I've been wanting to try my hand at digestives, and you've given me the perfect excuse to get going.


  • At 7/2/05 16:09, Blogger Ziz said…

    Looks so delish!! :D Great combo.. I am salivating heavily..

  • At 7/2/05 20:36, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a lovely combination of flavor and textures Sam! The photos came out great too "extra creamy cheesiness" is my favorite. :-) Viv

  • At 8/2/05 03:05, Blogger Jeanne said…

    Hi Sam! All I can say is WOW! You have managed to combine all my favourite stuff - digestives, Wensleydale and port - and what a clever interpretation of the ingredients! I could eat cheese and digestives all day long. OK, maybe some Nairn's rough outcakes to break the monotony once in a while! I imagine this would be fantastic with stilton (which reminds me - I have lovely little chunk of white stilton with apricots sitting in the fridge for an after-dinner snack tonight. Mmmm!)

  • At 8/2/05 07:11, Blogger Sam said…

    Hi everyone - thanks for all the kind words!

    I am eating the biscuits right now for breakfast with a little butter and emmental cheese. These biscuits are WONDERFUL. bake them, bake them bake them!

    If you decide to make this dish I have decided that the potted cheese and port jelly are a little sweet and sickly after a while. Trouble was - I ate a few too many in one go :) Next time I am going to be definitely using Stilton or very sharp cheddar, just to give it an extra little kick and contrast. Jennifer - you could use some of that delicious, tasty, Canadian cheddar if you decide to make it this weekend. I think it might be better than Wensleydale. If you just make the biscuits for serving with cheese (no pottedness or jelly), then I think any cheese would go well.


  • At 8/2/05 13:33, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Go, Sam! Congrats on your win- I can't wait to make the digestives!


  • At 8/2/05 18:12, Blogger Carolyn said…

    I concur with Jennifer, yours is definitely the best twist on this month's theme--a stunner--the simplest always are. Congratulations.

  • At 9/2/05 06:56, Blogger Sam said…

    thanks everyone!

  • At 15/2/05 07:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Congratulations Sam! I must try this, it looks so yummy.


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