This is a slightly different, more elegant take on the ubiquitous ‘60s breaded Camembert and cranberry sauce starter. If you are in a frantic hurry, you can, incidentally, still buy this instant starter, and it’s not at all bad!

In any case, this version isn’t difficult and it’s improved enough to justify the additional effort.

I think the Lubborn Camembert gives the French cheese a real run for its money. On their website they suggest another very simple starter which also marries the cheese with walnuts: “grill sliced Camembert on toast,” they suggest, and top “with chopped roasted walnuts.” I don’t know why this cheese is so good, but the makers say they use milk ‘from cows with class’!

 

Recipe for camembert cigars with fiery red and bitter accompaniments

 

Serves 4-6

 

  • 250g/8 oz Camembert – Lubborn Somerset Camembert is a good one (its 220g weight is fine)
  • 95g/¾ cup chopped walnuts, dry-fried
  • 25g/1 oz pack of fresh chives
  • 1 lime – juice and zest
  • 4 sheets of filo pastry
  • rapeseed oil
  • 160g/⅔ cup plum, or rhubarb, or blackberry chutney
  • 2 tbsp marsala or red vermouth
  • 1 red endive
  • A small handful or bag (60-100g/2-4 oz) of watercress or rocket
  • 2 tsps honey
  • 4 tbsps walnut oil
  • Smoked salt and Indonesian long pepper

 

  1. Finely chop the Camembert (this is easier when it’s cold) and mix with the walnuts.
  2. Snip over half the chives.
  3. Grate in the zest of the lime. Mix well.
  4. Lay out two of the sheets of filo pastry, and lay the remain two sheets on top of them.
  5. Lay out some of the cheese mix along the length and roll over to make cigars, pinch together the edges with a little oil. Continue until you have used all the cheese mix.
  6. Cut into cigar lengths. Brush with more oil.
  7. Meanwhile in a small saucepan heat the chutney gently with the vermouth or marsala. Keep warm.
  8. Separate out the red endive leaves and toss together with the watercress and a dressing made of the lime juice, honey, walnut oil and seasoning. Snip over the rest of the chives.
  9. At the last minute, heat some oil in a frying pan, get it good and hot, and fry the cigars, turning all the time, until they are golden all over.
  10. Serve the just cooked cigars on a bed of bitter salad with the dipping sauce.

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