This is a super-easy and super-quick item you can put together as an appetizer to serve with bread or crackers. Or, if you want a light snack, or even a light dinner (which is what we did), you can use it for that, too. Your choice.
Now, this comes from the Research Department here at Scratchin’ It Central. The crack staff needed something to eat after a day’s hard work sifting and winnowing recipes, and, being too tired to do much of anything in the cooking department, they came up with this to have along with some hot and fresh Easy Rye Bread. This is one of the reasons we keep them on our staff.
For goat cheese, we always use Black Mesa Ranch goat cheese. It’s not like those goat cheeses that taste goat-y; instead, it’s a smooth, tangy cheese. Plus, we know that the goats are treated well, as we’ve visited during an open house (or, perhaps, an open ranch) day. Montmorency cherries are a bit on the tart side, complimenting the sweetness of the apricots. If you don’t have the cherries, or don’t want to spring for them, you can use dried cranberries, instead. The breadcrumbs we make ourselves, this time simply by whirling bread in a food processor and drying it in the oven.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. If your ramekin(s) is small, get out a small baking dish to set it in, to prevent it from falling over in the oven.
Chop. Break out your chef’s knife or other favorite knife, and chop the walnuts, apricots, and cherries into pieces a bit smaller than a pea. We find that the apricots stick to the knife, so we chop them by slicing them into thin ribbons, then slicing crosswise into small dice. Some apricots still stick to the knife, but fewer than if you chop randomly with abandon.
Mix. In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese, walnuts, apricots, and cherries. If your goat cheese is very dry and just seems crumbly, add a small amount of dairy, preferably heavy cream, until the cheese smooths out. If you’re out of heavy cream, use a bit of milk.
Fill. Scoop the mixture into ramekins — we used two, one for each of us — packing it down tightly in the bottom. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and lightly press those into the cheese mixture. If you wish, you can hold off baking by covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating.
Bake. Place the ramekins in the oven — don’t forget the small baking dish, if needed — and bake until the cheese is bubbling and hot, about 30 minutes.
Serve. Serve immediately along with hot bread or crackers and a small knife for spreading. Alert your diners that the ramekins will be hot.
As stated above, we had these for dinner one night when we knew that we’d be getting home late. We did all the prep work in advance so we could just pop everything into the oven when we got back. We loved having the fruit and nuts mixed into the cheese; the sweetness of the apricots, contrasting with the tanginess of the cherries and goat cheese, and the walnut pieces to add a mellow, nutty flavor. This is so easy and tasty, how can we not give it five stars?