|Cheese with Edible Flowers in Aspic|
Many years ago I had the chance to host a bridal shower for my best friend. This very easy to do cheese was a show-stopper. It's so simple to do, but so pretty that everyone is wow-ed by it. This is the perfect spring centerpiece.
The best part is, even though it may look expensive, it's actually quite cheap to make. The first one I made was of the whitest cheese I could find, a beautiful goat's milk Gruyere I discovered at the Allentown Farmer's Market. If I recall correctly, that chunk of cheese cost a hefty chunk of change and I decided that from now on, a slightly 'off-white' cheese would do just as well.
This one in particular is a simple Muenster cheese that I trimmed of any orange rind and cut into a round with a 3-inch biscuit cutter. I think the effect is quite nice. The flowers are wild violets - a lawn nightmare for some - and can be found growing almost anywhere in warm weather. I found mine on the edge of the sidewalk on a nearby street. DO NOT pick these if you think they've been treated by pesticides in any way or have been christened by a dog or cat. It's best to set aside a patch in your yard specifically for edible uses. The only other must-have ingredient is Knox gelatin - a single package. The leaves I used for the background were wild strawberry and extra wild violet leaves.
Any edible flower can be used here, the flatter the better, but any size can work if you're willing to take the time to sufficiently cover it with aspic. You can also use herbs or a combination of herbs and flowers. Sometimes the only edible part of a flower is the petals, so the green can be obtained by using a fresh herb.
Here's what to do:
1. Trim cheese to desired shape and place flowers and/or herbs in desired pattern.
2. Remove flowers and/or herbs and set aside.
3. Prepare aspic: Combine 1 envelope Knox gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water or white wine (a blush wine would look pretty with pink-hued flowers). Stir well. Heat another 1/2 cup of water or wine to boiling and add to the mixture. Stir until gelatin is dissolved.
4. Place the cheese on a rack over a shallow pan - or on a plate.
5. Coat once with aspic by pouring a thin coating over cheese with a spoon. Place flowers and/or herbs back in the desired design and coat again with aspic.
6. If using a plate, scoop or gently pour any aspic that has drained from the cheese back into the bowl.
7. Continue spooning aspic over flowers and cheese - as evenly as possible - until flowers are completely encased in aspic.
8. To speed things along, you can put the cheese into the refrigerator between coatings, but be sure to keep the bowl of aspic from setting while you work.
9. Chill until completely set and serve as desired.