Baked brie often surafces at snooty cocktail parties, but Suzanne Wechsler of Samish Bay Cheese has reinvented the oozy snack as a simple celebration of local food.
The centerpiece of Wechsler's dish is her dairy's award-winning Aged Ladysmith,a two-week old version of Samish Bay's signature cheese. Described as a "cross between queso fresco and ricotta salata," the senior Ladysmith has a rind that makes it ideal for baking.
"I've been making this for a couple of years," says Wechsler, who 14 years ago started Samish Bay with her husband, Roger. "It's really, really good."
Wechsler's concoction would no doubt have appealed to Pilgrims, who were fond of cheese, berries and savory pies. They likely would also have appreciated the Wechslers' resourcefulness: The Ladysmith - like all of the cheeses produced by the certified organic farm - is a farmstead cheese, made with milk from the couple's herd of Holsteins, Jerseys and Milking Shorthorns. The cows have the run of 180 acres near Bow.
The Baked Ladysmith can be made with any kind of jam, but when Weschler's in the Thanksgiving spirit - as she was last week, when she prepared the dish for grateful dairy staffers - she chooses a holiday-appropriate flavor. "I put a big dollop of cranberry sauce on there," she says.
1 Baby Wheel Samish Bay Cheese Aged Ladysmith (do not remove rind)
1 Pie crust (easy to use an organic frozen pie shell with a top and a bottom)
1 Egg white, lightly beaten
Cranberry sauce mixed with fig spread (or one of your favorite thick jams)
Light brown sugar
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly butter baking dish. Place cheese round into dish, place defrosted pie shell over cheese, and tuck dough under the bottom of the cheese. (Another option is to use two pie shells, one under and one over for a thicker encasement.)
Brush egg white on the pie shell.
Fold back dough in the center and add a generous spoonful of cranberry mixture above the center of the cheese. Sprinkle on a handful of brown sugar
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes; continue cooking at 350 degrees for approximately 15 more minutes until the pastry is golden brown. The baked Ladysmith will expand in cooking.
Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with roasted nuts, more cranberry-fig spread, apple slices and crackers.