Herbed Cheese Timbale


Copyright 1996 Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Serves 6 to 8 and multiplies easily.

Throughout France, but especially in the Savoy and Provence, small round Tomme cheeses (of goat's milk, cow or a blend of the two), aged a matter of weeks rather than years, are marinated in herb-scented olive oil and eaten at the end of meals, or on salads, or as snacks or light lunches. (Sometimes very fresh, not marinated ones become a sweet/savory dessert when drizzled with local lavender or thyme honey -- a fascinating play of flavors and textures.)

My blend of cheeses and herbs is a variation on the marinated Tomme theme, becoming a no-fuss appetizer enjoyed by everyone. Shape it into a high mound, resembling an upside down pail Make the cheese a day ahead. Have small pieces of rough country bread for spreading. Use organic ingredients if at all possible.

  • 1 to 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 large shallot (optional)
  • 12 ounces lightly aged goat cheese, like Montrachet, or American fresh coat cheese
  • 9 ounces cream cheese (preferably without gar gum)
  • l tightly-packed teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or l/4 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 2 large fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tightly-packed teaspoons parsley leaves
  • 3 whole scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 generous tablespoons small capers, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • fruity, good tasting extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
  • a basket of torn pieces of rough country bread made without sugar

Mince together garlic and shallot either in a food processor or by hand. Blend with the cheeses until smooth, adding thyme, basil and 2 tablespoons of the parsley, (mince herbs if working by hand). Remove blade from processor. Stir in scallions and capers. Taste cheese for balance, adding more capers if desired. Season to taste, pack into a container and refrigerate at least 8 hours and no more than 36 hours.

About 1-2 hours before serving: Mound cheese on a serving platter, shaping into an upside down pail. Let it come close to room temperature (cheese could be covered and refrigerated for another several hours if necessary).

Sprinkle with pine nuts, packing some into sides of the cheese. Then drizzle top with a few spoons of olive oil, running a narrow stream of oil on the plate, surrounding the cheese. Scatter parsley leaves around plate and atop cheese. Set out with the basket of bread.


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