Baked Camembert, Fig-Pear-Rosemary Preserves and Watercress Salad

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With summer weather having arrived in Kansas City, I am looking forward to start entertaining on our lovely backyard deck more and more (it’s what we built it for last year, right?). But I don’t want my friends melting, which is where refreshing meals, drinks and appetizers come into play. In today’s appetizer, I used plenty of herbs all throughout (chives and watercress in the salad, rosemary in the preserves, and lastly fresh mint in the lemon water) to add counterbalance to the breaded, melty, ooey-gooey cheese.

One food that has always been one of my favorites growing up in Germany is baked camembert cheese, typically served with lingonberry sauce and a refreshing side of greens. I decided to go a bit of a different route today and instead am serving this golden, skillet-baked cheese with homemade preserves made from dried figs, fresh pears, orange and fresh rosemary. It’s garnished with grilled bread (I love to use this grilling pan!) and a lemon-vinaigrette dressed watercress salad.

With an appetizer as beautiful as this, you won’t even need a centerpiece as it will already draw plenty of attention. So if you’re looking to please and impress your friends at future dinner parties (erm, who doesn’t?) and if you’re a cheese freak like me, this is a quick and super delicious appetizer to have ready as your friends arrive for dinner.

Also, if you love German cooking and baking as much as I do and want a chance to win cool kitchen gear (more WÜSTHOF knives to come soon as well), PLEASE SUBSCRIBE at the bottom of this post! ????  Danke! ❤️‍


Ingredients for preserves (you’ll have some left over; great with goat cheese on bruschetta as well!):

  • 1 1/4 cups chopped dried Mission figs (about 9 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped orange sections
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pear, peeled and diced

Ingredients for greens:

  • 1 bag of lettuce (I used watercress that I found at Trader Joe’s, but a spring mix would be great, too!)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard (this one is my favorite!)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped chives
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c pomegranate seeds
  • 1 pear, unpeeled, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 c candied walnuts

Ingredients for baked cheese:

  • 1 small wheel of camembert cheese, room temperature (I used an 8 oz wheel)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c (80 g)  flour
  • 5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 c (80 g) breadcrumbs

Method:

  1. Preserves: combine first 7 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until figs are tender. Uncover, add the finely dice the peeled pear and add and cook 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
  2. Dressing: whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, sugar and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Wait to dress watercress until ready to serve, then toss with pomegranate seeds, sliced pear and candied walnuts.
  3. Cheese: Cover the cheese wheel in flour, then whisked egg, then breadcrumbs. Repeat to achieve a nice breading. Heat the oil in a pan on medium to medium high heat and bake the cheese until golden brown from both sides, about 5 minutes on each side. Note: I did stand up the cheese on the edge and turned it about every 15 seconds to also brown it on the sides. I worked with a set of tongs to move the cheese very carefully.
  4. Serve with the dressed watercress salad and grilled baguette or ciabatta slices (I used a grilling pan – so quick and easy!)
  5. Guten Appetit!

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