Lemon Cheese-Curds with Toasted Almonds and Passion Fruit
I go a little crazy on occasion when I put together recipes- but sometimes even I recognize that some things are so delicious that nature has already gone crazy for me. Case in point is Maracuja, or "Passion Fruit" as it is also known. What a complex combination of taste sensations it has! At the same time, it can tend to be a case of love it or leave it... and I am not sure which of the two applies to me! That is because the flavor is SO intense... well... it is just a matter of taste! So I decided to try to calm this passionate beast... and managed to do a pretty good job of it- for a couple of minutes anyway! Because that was about as long as it took for me to eat it once it was made! Mmmm!
So I decided to keep things simple and I think that is the best way to handle Maracuja. It is so sweet and tangy that it hardly needs anything doing to it. One thing I can recommend it to add a little powdered sugar to it, as although it is very sweet as it is, there is an underlying tartness that can be a little much. Also, the tiniest hint of lemon will help- not much! You don't want to make it any sourer, but to just lift the freshness a little.
For the cheese curds, I grated some lemon zest and ground it together with a couple of teaspoons of sugar in my mortar and pestle. I didn't stir this into the cheese, as I didn't want it to lose the character of being a cheese and turn it into a typical dessert cream, just to add a fruity sweetness. I want to still appreciate that it is a cheese. The toasted almonds added the right amount of crunch and texture. These are really easy too- pop the almond slices into a dry pan and when they begin to brown, add a small drizzle of honey and stir it in... again, just a little! You will be amazed at how crunchy they will become when they cool off- just make sure to immediately place them on your dish the way you want them because they will be very sticky for a while until they set!
Garnish with a leaf or two of fresh mint, which also harmonizes wonderfully with the cheese, almonds and Maracuja. And there you go- exotic, creamy, crunchy, cheap and easy... it could almost be one of my dishes!