White Cheese with Roasted Garlic

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In the introduction to this chapter I mentioned the little pyramids of fresh white cheese served in France with fruit, cream, or just salt and pepper. You don’t have to have a pyramid mold to make this dish; in fact, the cheese could just be spooned out on the plate. Here I have used the fresh curds of goat cheese packed into a cheesecloth-lined mold, weighted down for a day to compact the cheese, and unmolded onto the plate. The best garlic to use is the very fresh, new-crop spring garlic, and the best accompaniments are crusty bread and Niçoise olives.

Ingredients

  • 4 heads garlic
  • 1 cup virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme or marjoram
  • 4 whole fresh goat’s- or cow’s-milk white cheeses
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme flowers and leaves

Method

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Cut each head of garlic in half horizontally. Brush each half with ½ tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pull half the leaf clusters off the thyme or marjoram sprigs and put between the cut surfaces of the garlic. Put the garlic halves back together and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake until they are soft, about 30 minutes.

Put the cheeses on plates, pour the remaining olive oil over them, and sprinkle with the remaining thyme flowers and leaves. Serve with the baked garlic. Squeeze the garlic onto bread; then spread the cheese on the bread. Eat with olives and lots of cool white wine.

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