Baked cheese with leafy spoons and toast
Serves 8 — 2 chicory heads, if possible one white and one red
— 6 slices brown farmhouse bread
— 1 whole cheese with a soft rind, such as Tunworth, Camembert or similar — 2 thyme sprigs Prepare the dipping ‘tools’ first. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4.
Pull all the leaves off the chicory heads, large and small, then set aside in a cool place. Toast the bread and cut off the crusts. Use a serrated knife inserted horizontally into the slice to divide each one into two thin toasts.
Cut each thin slice into four triangles and place on a baking sheet. Put in the oven and bake until crisp and curled, about eight minutes.
Cook the cheese at the same time. If it comes in a wooden container, unwrap it and place back in the box without the plastic.
If there is no box, unwrap the cheese and cut a piece of baking parchment long enough to wrap around the circumference with about 5cm extra. The width should be roughly twice that of the depth of the cheese. Fold the strip in half lengthways and then wrap it around the sides of the cheese, tucking in the extra flap to keep it contained.
Make a hole in the centre of the cheese and insert the thyme sprigs.
Place the cheese on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, then put in the oven to bake. When you see the surface of the cheese begin to puff and crack in places (about 10 minutes), remove from the oven.
Cut a trapdoor-style lid out of the top, then serve immediately with the warm toasts and chicory spoons.