We All Love The Figgie Cheesies

 

 

These Figgy Cheesies are delicious.

 

Certain food combinations are natural winners.  Peanut butter and chocolate, ham and Swiss, and beer and pizza float right to the top of my list. Other combinations might conceivably appeal to those with a strong craving, like peanut butter and dill pickles.  And still others—like my friend’s blue cheese and fig jam appetizers—are largely unknown and just waiting to be discovered. 

 

Hey, these figs aren't half bad.

In the old days, you wouldn’t catch me at a fig sale.

If the truth be known, I was never big on figs. I certainly wouldn’t rush to the store for a fifty-percent off fig sale.  I might pretend to ignore them if someone passed a plate.  Heck, I might even turn up my nose.  I suppose I just don’t know figs or never had a really good one—for example, I wouldn’t be able to pick out a good fig among a batch of so-so or even really bad figs.  And to be honest, I really doubt if you put a fig, date and prune side-by-side I could tell you which was which.  To me, they’d all look just a little too brown and ooky to overcome their naturally sweet goodness.

 

Thank heavens I have friends and family who are great cooks, love to share, and who keep introducing me to new flavors and foods I might never try on my own.  One friend in particular, our friend Steph (or Chef Steph as hubby and I sometimes refer to her), will often share one of her wonderful new creations with us whenever we meet up for dinner. And it’s only because I love her and trust her track record in the kitchen that I was willing to even consider trying the Figgie Cheesy bites she served a couple months back.

 

I Digress…

 

If you’ve grown up on those convenient “American” cheese sandwich slices you may not be familiar with the particular version of cheese that goes into a Figgie Cheesy.  Trust me, American cheese just won’t do for this recipe.  American cheese often contains so many preservatives and is so over-processed I’m pretty sure they used it to reinforce all those space shuttle tiles back in the days when they were still falling off.  No, today’s recipe calls for actual honest-to-god real cheese, or in this particular case, blue cheese.

 

A plate of blue cheese.

I admit blue cheese looks suspicious, but it tastes great.

I know some folks may not care for a stinky, moldy-looking, blue-streaked cheese, but I happen to love it. In my mind eating blue cheese is a developed taste thing, so it probably didn’t hurt my mom loved it and would often serve it to me as a kid.  And while lots of people enjoy blue cheese in salads or eat it all on its own with crackers and wine, I have at least one friend who wouldn’t touch it (or anything like it) with a ten foot pole.  I won’t mention her name here, but I’d almost bet she’s nodding and laughing right now.

 

As I got older I discovered there are many different kinds of moldy cheese. OPMC as I call it, or On Purpose Moldy Cheese, can admittedly look a bit gross if you look too closely—I’d advise against that.  Nope, if you’re going to eat a piece of OPMC, just whack off a chunk and pop it in your mouth.  And in case you’re wondering, the proper response here is yum, not blah!

 

Really, this isn’t like that ancient block of cheddar you find buried in the way back of your refrigerator’s deli drawer.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  The only way you can save that baby is by pinching off your nostrils, donning a pair of rubber gloves and carefully cutting or scraping off all the white and moldy green parts to salvage the marginally good stuff underneath.  Hmm…now that I think about it, it’s no wonder kids grow up confused about what to eat.

 

Let’s get back to our Figgie Cheesies…

 

A delicious Figgy Cheezy.

There it was on my plate. Would I suck it up and try it?

Okay, we had just arrived at Steph’s and she started to whip up these little nosh bites. When I saw her pull out a chunk of blue cheese, some Neuchâtel cheese, and some little pieces of bread, I thought this is going to be good! But then she whipped out a jar of brown stuff, which looked mighty suspicious to me.

 

Naturally, I was concerned she was either mentally spacing out or suffering from some new and previously undisclosed brain ailment, so I broke down and asked about it.  Then when she explained it was some of her homemade fig jam my heart sank. Fig jam? It took all my willpower to paste on a happy face as she expertly went about her business.

 

I had to keep reminding myself this was homemade jam—something she no doubt spent hours making—and when had she ever steered me wrong?  Even so, the dilemma facing me was to pass and suggest I was saving my appetite for dinner, ask to withhold some of her homemade jam and risk offending, or actually fall on the proverbial hand grenade and take one for the team. Believe, I’m no hero, but I sucked it up and opted for the most daring option of all—the Purple Heart—number three.  Gulp.

 

Hey!  These Figgie Cheesies are delicious!  There’s no way I would have come up with this combination on my own, but I have to say, “Thank you Steph!  I’m glad you did!  These are amazing!”  And believe me, there was no hesitation to polish off the entire plate once I knew what I was getting into.  I just love the surprisingly yummy mixture of blue cheese and Neuchâtel all topped off by the sweetness of fig jam.  This is definitely a new favorite, and not just for me.  In fact, when we shared it at a recent gathering a number of our friends raved.  They were both surprised to hear about the ingredients and and went on to talk about how good they were together.  Hmm…kind of makes me wonder what else might work this well together. Better stay tuned.

 

Let’s whip up some nosh.

 

This goes quick.  All we need are:

Here's a list of our ingredients.

Thanks for some of your delcious homemade jam, Steph!

Blue cheese

Neuchâtel cheese (which is like cream cheese, but less fat)

Fig jam

1 French or other Baguette

 

Prep

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

Mixing up my cheese.

I mix equal parts cheese with a fork.

Take equal parts of cheese and let them set out a few minutes to warm up.  This will make them easier to mix.  Now, go ahead and mix them in a bowl.  I suggest a fork to help break them up.  By the way, the whole point of the Neuchâtel is to cut the sharpness of the blue cheese.  Some may not need that, but I’d recommend giving it a try.

 

Next, slice your baguette into small disks and smear each with the cheese mixture. Finally, top with a dollop of fig jam, place on a pan and heat in the oven for about 3-5 minutes.  Keep close watch—you just want to melt the cheese, not burn it.

 _____________________________________________________

Slicing my french bread.

Slice the bread.

Spreading my cheese with a knife.

Spread your cheese.

Yum, these appetizers are almost ready.

Add a dollop of jam.

 _____________________________________________________

 

Serve immediately, pour yourself a glass of wine, and prepare to be as pleasantly surprised as I was.  In fact, you may want to break out singing—something on this order:

 

We all love the Figgy Cheesies,
We all love the Figgy Cheesies,
We all love the Figgy Cheesies,
Oh, yes, we love them, we do!

 

 

 

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