Get creative with your cheese board and other gooey recipes

Art, fashion and perfume aside, France can be credited with introducing the world to its sacred cuisine, especially the delicious French cheeses, which are sought after by all cheese lovers worthy of their rennet.

By extension, this reverence for French cheese has given us the cheesemaker François Robin, who has been hailed as One of the Best Craftsmen of France, or “one of the best artisans in France” – a title which is not easily understood. to acquire.

Robin, who has worked with famous The Parisian delicatessen Fauchon as well as with pastry chefs Christophe Adam and Benoit Couvrand, spends a large part of his time introducing French cheeses to enthusiasts like me. During a recent workshop in Dubai organized by Spinneys in collaboration with Sopexa and the French Dairy Board, I learned that Robin’s main principle is “anytime, anywhere, anyhow”, with reference to how you can taste these delicious cheeses.

Robin explains that French cheeses have a complex flavor even though they are usually made with just four ingredients. Indigenous and finest cheeses come with a PDO sticker that delineates the specific region, process and expertise required to maintain the highest level of quality and authenticity during the manufacturing process.

When it comes to pairing cheeses, Robin simply says to think about pairings that are mutually reinforcing. It reveals its best combinations, including dates stuffed with Roquefort, garnished with sesame and drizzled with molasses; miso and black garlic to create an umami treat that pairs well with the Count; and sliced ​​camembert, lightly smoked with olive wood and zaatar (which Robin demonstrates using a small portable smoker), then topped with more zaatar and set on a cracker.

The master cheesemaker believes that the key to these clever pairings is “remembering not to change the DNA of the cheese itself.” Inspired by all of Robin’s knowledge and dishes, here are three recipe ideas that will suit all levels of cheese expertise.

Create a casual-chic cheese board

When creating a cheese board, try to meet all of your guests’ expectations. Buy a selection of cheeses that vary in flavor, texture and intensity.

Interleave the cheeses with bread, crackers, fruit, nuts, dried fruit or honey. Be courageous in your choices; chances are, if you like it, your guests will too. For example, I added cocoa nibs.

Arrange your cheese from the softest to the strongest. In the illustrated board, there is a Brie de Meaux with truffles on the right, sliced ​​and arranged to highlight the truffles inside. In the center is Brillat Savarin Affine, cut in the Pac-Man style to show off its beautiful milky interior and flowery rind. Finally, there is a strong and earthy 18 month old Count cut to shatter. Brillat Savarin can easily be replaced by Camembert and Count by Tomme de Savoie.

Let your cheeses come to room temperature before serving (cold cheese has a mild flavor).

Bake a Camembert for two


250g of Le Rustique Camembert

1 garlic clove, cut into strips

Rosemary (fresh or dried), to taste

Chili flakes, to taste

1 teaspoon of maple syrup


Let your Camembert come to room temperature (this takes between 30 and 45 minutes) after removing all plastic packaging and putting the cheese back in its box.

Cut a grid in the cheese. In the grid, press strips of fresh garlic alternately with rosemary. Sprinkle with a pinch of chili flakes.

Bake at 180 ° C for 15 to 20 minutes. Drizzle with maple syrup during the last five minutes.

Serve immediately with accompaniments such as boiled potatoes, mushrooms or pickled onions.

Enjoy gougeres with cheese cream

Makes 30 to 32

Ingredients and method for Comte cream

333 ml milk

33 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Pinch of nutmeg, grated

1 bay leaf

1 clove of garlic

4 egg yolks

26g of cornstarch

50g grated Comte

1 tsp of Dijon mustard

Pinch of crushed sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

2½ tablespoons chopped chives

Bring the milk, butter, nutmeg, bay leaf and garlic to a boil and whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch in a small bowl during this time.

Once the mixture is boiling, remove it from the heat and pass some of it in the egg yolks and cornstarch, whisking immediately. Discard the bay leaf and garlic

Filter the rest of the milky mixture into another saucepan and add the yolk-milk mixture to it. Melt cheese with mustard, salt and pepper over medium heat, whisking continuously to thicken and until smooth.

Remove from the heat, then add the butter mixture and chives. Whisk until the butter mixture dissolves. If it is too thick, add a little milk to loosen it. You want the texture of heavy cream. Fill it in a pastry bag and place it in the refrigerator.

Ingredients and method for choux pastry

200 ml of water

85 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of sugar

3 eggs

115g flour, sifted

½ teaspoon ground pepper

1 egg plus a little water for the gilding

Grated count, for garnish

Combine the water, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a bowl and sift the flour and pepper into a separate bowl.

Once the butter has melted and the mixture is boiling, remove from the heat and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat with a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate.

Return to medium heat and beat constantly for a minute to dry the batter. Remove from heat once the dough makes a film on the bottom, but comes together. Cool for a few minutes.

Add the eggs in four increments, beating with a spoon and making sure the batter absorbs the liquid before adding the next increment. Beat until smooth and until the dough can hold an indentation without the sides collapsing.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large star nozzle, draw circles of two centimeters on baking sheets lined with baking paper, leaving space for them to swell a little. Make sure to pipet without the nozzle leaving the dough and pull up, leaving a small tip. Wet the tip of your finger and pat the ends of the cabbage. Brush with gold foil and garnish with cheese.

Bake the gougères at 190 ° C in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. Once risen and golden, take them out of the oven and quickly prick them with a toothpick on the side to let the steam escape. Return to the oven for another five or six minutes. Once done, remove, prick again and place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

To serve

Let the pastry cream come to room temperature. With a paring knife, poke a small cross in the bottom of the gougeres. Fill the cream through this hole until the dough is slightly heavier. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator when full and reheat to 190 ° C for six to eight minutes when ready to serve.

Update: December 10, 2021, 5:41 a.m.