Christophe Emé's late uncle, Auguste Fauqereau, had never been on an airplane; he made his own wine and goat cheese in the Loire because that's what he'd always done. Today, Emé spices up goat cheese with fresh herbs, salt and the piquant ground red pepper piment d'Espelette, then forms it into balls. He likes to serve them in a spectacular way, by packing them with olive oil, artichokes, olives and tomatoes in a giant jar that he sets out on the table with a big spoon for scooping.
More Make-Ahead Hors d'Oeuvres
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 pounds fresh goat cheese, softened
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon piment d'Espelette pepper (see Note) or hot paprika
1 quart extra-virgin olive oil
20 cooked baby artichoke hearts, from the deli counter
1 cup red cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
1 cup Niçoise olives
Toasted baguette slices, for serving
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pine nuts in a pie plate and bake for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
In a standing mixer, using the paddle, blend the goat cheese with the toasted pine nuts, rosemary, thyme and piment d'Espelette. Alternatively, blend the cheese in a bowl using a wooden spoon. Season with salt. Shape rounded tablespoons of the seasoned cheese into balls.
Pour 1 inch of olive oil into a tall 1-gallon glass container. Layer the cheese balls, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes and olives in the container with enough of the remaining olive oil to cover. Let marinate at room temperature for 24 hours. Serve with the toasted baguette.
The fruity, mildly spicy piment d'Espelette from France's Pays Basque region is available from L'Epicerie (866-350-7575 or lepicerie.com).
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