Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dreaming in Dalmation

A few Christmases back, I was fortunate enough to experience one of the most amazing meals I've ever had, at The Inn at Little Washington! The Inn was created by, self-taught chef, Patrick O'Connell and Reinhardt Lynch in 1978, and is located in the tiny town of Washington, Virginia, in a former gas station/country store. The ambiance is reminiscent of an extravagant English manor, with the kitchen staff donning their signature dalmatian patterned chef apparel, a tribute to Rose, their dalmatian and mascot of The Inn. The whimsical, creative, and unbelievably delicious food is truly a delight! If you ever have the opportunity, you should go!

For my holiday menu, "A Burst of Camembert on Baby Greens," from Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine, seemed the perfect fit. It is my favorite salad/cheese course, ever! I could eat this everyday!

A Burst of Camembert on Baby Greens

Serves 6, The Camembert Triangles can be made a day ahead and refrigerated!


1 small wheel (about 9 ounces) Camembert, chilled
2 sheets phyllo dough
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted (clarified butter would be best)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups assorted baby greens, washed and dried
1/4 cup Sherry Vinaigrette, recipe below
Toasted pecans, for garnish


For the Camembert Triangles
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the wheel of Camembert into 6 triangles. On a cutting board, lay out one sheet of phyllo dough and brush it with some melted butter. Place a second sheet of phyllo on top of the first and brush it with butter, reserving about 4 tablespoons of the butter. Quickly, wrap up the phyllo, save for another use.

Using a sharp knife, cut the buttered phyllo sheets into 6 strips, about 2 1/2 inches wide. Place a triangle of Camembert on one end of each phyllo strip. Fold one corner of the dough over to cover the cheese and form a triangle shape. (This is a little tricky, just do the best you can.) Place the triangles, seam side down, on the baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To Serve
In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, reduce the balsamic vinegar by half and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat about 4 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over medium-low heat. Add the pastry-wrapped cheese pieces and cook for 30 to 45 seconds on each side until just golden. Using tongs, remove the cheese triangles from the skillet and drain on paper towels.

Place the greens in a large bowl, lightly dress them with the Sherry Vinaigrette, and place a small mound of greens in the center of each plate. Place a warm cheese triangle on top of each pile of greens. Drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar around the greens and garnish with the pecans. Serve immediately.

Sherry Vinaigrette

Makes 3 cups. (I know there is a lot of ingredients, but if you can swing it, it's worth making! It's delicious!)


2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon copped shallot
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
2/3 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup salad oil (like canola oil)
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup walnut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Whisk all the ingredients together in a large stainless steel bowl. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator and shake well before using.