I've never really met a cheese I didn't like. I'll even cop to the occasional burger with American cheese and have been known to eat the stuff from the squirty cans (a long time ago!)
My love of cheese made the prospect of a "cheese social" with 60 other like-minded people, a whole lot of Point Reyes Blue and Redhawk plus wine too hard to pass up. But what to serve alongside that would be unique and stand out? Sigh. The decisions I must make!
I felt like the occasion called for a recipe I'd clipped from a past issue of Gourmet magazine. Chardonnay Gelee ("no, it's NOT jello") sounded odd but interesting. The blend of reduced Chardonnay, sugar and star anise turned into a beautiful presentation which paired well with the more assertive types of cheese on display.
- 1 cup Chardonnay
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 segment star anise (not whole star anise)
- Scant teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope)
- 2 tablespoons water
Lightly oil a 1 cup ramekin or bowl. Bring chardonnay, sugar, and star anise to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to medium and gently boil until mixture is reduced to 1 cup, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over water in a small cup and let soften 1 minute. Stir gelatin into hot Chardonnay mixture until dissolved, then discard star anise. Cool slightly, then pour Chardonnay mixture into ramekin and chill, covered, until set, at least 8 hours.
Dip bottom two thirds of ramekin in a bowl of hot water 20 seconds. Run a sharp paring knife around edge of gelee, then invert ramekin onto a serving plate and, holding ramekin and plate together, firmly shake to unmold gelee.
Pairs well with rich, strong cheese such as aged chevre or Stilton on a thinly sliced baguette.
"Good selections for pairing."
Who can resist these?"