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An un-Nero Wolfe Christmas, part 1 December 30, 2009

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Cheese, Drinks.
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(Part 2 can be found here, and Part 3 here)

“Christmas – an excuse for wretched excess aptly symbolized by an elephantine elf who delivers gifts to the whole world in one night.” — Nero Wolfe in A Christmas Party (part of the And Four to Go collection of short stories).

So Nero Wolfe is determined to be grinchy over the Christmas period – despite Fritz and Archie willing to put on a good show. I, too, have had my share of grinchy moments over this Christmas. And while I agree in theory with Wolfe’s sentiments about Christmas being an excuse for excess, it’s also a great opportunity to get into the kitchen and do some cooking not normally attempted.

As in previous years, my partner H and I got the family stuff over early in the morning and were back at our place by 11 to begin the great cooking adventure.

We started with some Champagne cocktails – Champagne, passionfruit, and brandy. I froze the passionfruit pulp and juice into icecube trays the day before. While we were sipping on these I got to work on the appetizer – otherwise known as something for us to nibble on in case the later courses got ‘delayed’ (not that that would EVER happen of course…).

I made an appetizer of baked camembert. It sounds simple. It was simple! It tasted absolutely wonderful. First I put some red wine, cloves, sugar and a cinnamon stick into a saucepan to let the wine become infused with the flavours. Next, I prepared the camembert by pricking it all over to let the wine seep in. Then I strained the wine (to remove the cloves and cinnamon stick) and poured it over the cheese, and baked it for 10 minutes on 200 degrees celsius.

OK I’ll admit it: I just wanted to scoop that whole thing out of the pan and eat it on the spot. But being the generous and sharing person that I am – and mindful of the fact that there were many courses to come – I refrained, and served it with crackers on a plate I’d received that morning as part of my Christmas swag:

This cheese was delicious! We gobbled the whole thing down in about 10 minutes, I reckon. I’ve already bought another cheese to do this again. I’d love to try this with a mild blue cheese to give a bit more ‘bite’ to the dish but I’m unsure how that would work in the oven – I think the cheese would just melt all over the place.

(I also served dips and olives for us to snack on but I didn’t make them and didn’t take any photos of them!)

Onto Part 2 – Ham and veggies!

Skip to Part 3 – Dessert!

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