Sinfully scrumptious spreads. July 25, 2008Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
Tags: brie, Intercourse PA, jalapeno jam, Kitchen Kettle Village, pepper jam
Silence Dogood here. On Wednesday, my friend Amy and I went to the notoriously named village of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, to do some serious shopping. Intercourse (near the equally infamous Blue Ball, PA) is deep in the heart of Lancaster County—Amish Country—and we saw almost as many buggies as cars as we headed towards one of Amy’s favorite shopping destinations, Kitchen Kettle Village.
One of the best quilt stores in the country is in Intercourse, so I was excited about going, and there’s also a bookstore that specializes in topics of interest to the Amish and Mennonite communities, and that means cooking and putting food by. (Thinking about my room-sized fabric stash, I managed to drag myself out of the quilt shop without buying anything—not even the adorable micro-mini-iron that looked just perfect for flattening seams and making sharp points. But I couldn’t resist a new canning book at the bookstore.)
Speaking of canning and preserving, the heart of Kitchen Kettle Village is a large store that specializes in jellies, jams, pickles, salsas, relishes, and the like, and it was this store that Amy especially wanted to visit: Her father had run out of seedless black raspberry jam, his favorite, and she wanted to stock up for him. The beautiful jars of jewel-like jellies, jams, and so on are made on-premises—the day we were there, they were making pickles, and a group had gathered to watch and sample. You could also sample everything else in the store (bins of tiny crackers gave you something to put all those jellies, salsas, etc. on) so you could make sure you liked something before you plunked your money down. And they have jar sizes from about a half-cup to what looks like a half-gallon, so you can match the size of your purchase to your budget or enthusiasm.
After tasting the Wickles—wicked good pickles—and realizing that they were really hot and really good, I knew I had to bring some back for our friend Ben and our heat-loving friend and fellow blog contributor, Richard Saunders. But what truly caught my attention were the beautiful pepper jams. Gorgeous, glowing jars of Pepper Jam and Jalapeno Jam shone ruby-red in the sunlight. I just had to try them. And oh, yes, they were good. I especially liked the hot-sweet flavor of the Jalapeno Jam. And then I saw the recipes.
The simplest recipe calls for an 8-ounce block of cream cheese, brought to room temperature and topped with a half-pint (10 ounces) of Jalapeno or Pepper Jam, which guests could spread on crackers. As the Kitchen Kettle folks point out, “This is known as the caviar of Lancaster County.” I can see why. Yummy!
Then they move on to brie. As you may know, our friend Ben and I have a thing about cheese. And if you really have a thing about cheese, you have a thing about brie, that melt-in-your-mouth, sinfully delicious stuff that just screams to be smeared on a piece of crusty baguette and served with gorgeous grapes or other berries in season and tart green apple slices. Add champagne or a dry rose or Riesling and you have the perfect romantic picnic fare. Brie, berries, champagne, sensuality: It all goes together like white on rice. Forget oysters! Try this next time you want to set a romantic mood. Light some candles, dim the lights, sit on the sofa, enjoy that wonderful food and wine, and relax. Put some Ella and Louis on the CD player. Trust me.
Brie on a baguette is good. But hot brie on a baguette is great. Kitchen Kettle Village suggests topping a wheel of brie with an 8-ounce jar of Pepper or Jalapeno Jam and 1/2 cup of toasted almonds, then putting it in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Oh, my. I have my jar, and we’re going to try it when we get back from our North Carolina beach vacation. It sounds so good! But now we’re in the realm of party fare. We’ll invite our friends Delilah and Chaz or Mary and Dave over to enjoy it with us, or maybe take the raw materials over to our Friday Night Supper Club and share it with everyone. (Even Ben and I can’t manage to consume an entire wheel of brie at a sitting, and once you’ve topped and heated it, you’d better eat it all.)
Reading the Kitchen Kettle recipe brought to mind the best brie I’d ever eaten. It was at a party at our friend Erana’s house. She topped a wheel of brie with packed brown sugar and put it in the oven to warm through (again, I’d try 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F while keeping a close eye on it). Brown sugar on brie would not have occurred to me, but it was so, so delicious, smeared on thin, crusty slices of baguette. Oh, yes! Try it and see for yourself. It’s so good, it just has to be sinful. But at least we’re just sinning against our waistlines instead of other people. I say, go for it! You’ll be so glad you did.
‘Til next time,