Petit Basque

Savoury recipe

From a creative perspective, a composed cheese plate allows an exciting opportunity to straddle the line that separates sweet from savory. The cheese is the star of the show, of course, but the accompaniments we choose can play an important role as supporting actors. I often try to start with a palette of basic tastes – sweet, salty, bitter, acid – as inspiration, and follow that with spice or heat; the balance of these elements will of course be determined by the flavors offered by the cheese itself.

 

To demonstrate this approach, we could start with a favorite of mine, Petit Basque. Produced in the French Pyrenees, it’s a semi-firm sheep’s milk cheese that is nutty, earthy, and occasionally accompanied by just a hint of ‘funkiness’. As I start to explore the range of supporting flavors at my disposal, I really need to look no further than the region the cheese hails from – the vibrant Basque country that incorporates parts of France and Spain.

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Petit Basque
Michael Laiskonis

Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef
Michael Laiskonis was named Creative Director of New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education in 2012. Previously Executive Pastry Chef Le Bernardin for eight years, his pastry philosophy manifests...
  1. Fig Pâte de Fruit

    Ingredients

    • Frozen fruit purée 100% : Fig - 200 g
    • Frozen fruit purée, sugar added : Apricot - 50 g
    • Sucrose - 30 g
    • yellow pectin - 4 g
    • Sucrose - 210 g
    • Glucose syrup - 40 g
    • Citric acid - 3.5 g

    1. In a heavy saucepan, combine purées and heat to 40ºC/104ºF.                                                          

    2. Combine first measurement of sucrose (1) and pectin and whisk into purées. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously.

    3. Add remaining sucrose (2) and glucose. Cook to 106ºC/223ºF. Remove from heat and stir in citric acid.      

    4. Pour into a plastic lined 12cm square frame and allow to set.

    In this step

  2. Almond Praline

    Ingredients

    • Unsalted butter (room temp) - 56 g
    • Sucrose - 85 g
    • Glucose syrup - 12 g
    • Water - 12 g
    • Almond (roasted and salted, coarsely ground) - 40 g

    1. Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan.  Remove from heat and stir in sucrose, glucose syrup, and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 150˚C/300˚F.

    2. Remove from heat, stir in almonds, and spread out onto a Silpat lined half-sheet pan or marble to cool and harden.

  3. Peach Vinegar Gastrique

    Ingredients

    • Frozen fruit purée, sugar added : White peach - 25 g
    • Sucrose - 125 g
    • Water - 75 g
    • Peach vinegar - 45 g

    1. Combine sucrose and water to moisten in a small saucepan. Cook to a very light caramel color.

    2. Remove from heat, and slowly add vinegar and purée. Return to heat and cook to dissolve any hardened bits of sugar. Continue to cook to 105˚C/221˚F. Allow to cool.

    In this step

  4. Assembly

    Ingredients

    • candied lemon (zest)
    • Paprika
    • Almonds

    1. Cut a thin slice of the fig pâte de fruit and place on the plate. Arrange the sliced Petit Basque, broken Marcona praline, whole almonds, and pieces of lemon confit on and around the pâte de fruit.

    2. Finish with a few drops of the peach gastrique, nasturtium leaf, and pimenton.

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