goat cheese

All posts tagged goat cheese

summer_grill_productChavrie Blue Berry Salad with Walnuts

At 9:30 PM a few weeks ago, I had a startling realization: I had to bring a dish to church the next day!!  Well, it wasn’t so much a realization as it was an acceptance that I could no longer procrastinate, nor did I have a viable excuse to get out of doing what I promised.

“To the refrigerator!” I cried and I went to the refrigerator.

See, there’s something everyone needs to know about me.  I live in a constant state of preparedness…for the show Door Knock Dinners. Ever since the first New York Battle on Iron Chef, I’ve become obsessed with the idea that any time, Gordon Elliott or an Iron Chef (or you know, me) could walk into my house and prepare a huge gourmet meal with only what I have in my fridge, freezer and big freezer downstairs.

So, it was with the highest level of confidence that I  attacked my pantry on a quest to make something to take the next day.  Let me tell you, I came up with the best idea.  I was going to layer sheets of puff pastry with layers of sweetened goat cheese and fresh, homemade blue berry syrup and then top the whole thing with a nice splash of blueberry balsamic.  Sounds pretty good huh?

Then I realized I was in no mood to cook and made this salad instead.

But you know what?  It rocked!!  It was also my first experience using Chavrie as anything more than a cracker spread.  (Here it comes, FTC disclosure: I was given coupons for free samples, which is why we had some in the house.)

Because it was my first experience using Chavrie, I wish I could have done a little better with it.  I simply did not realize just how soft it was.  Normally when I make this salad, I use feta crumbles.  The Chavrie was far softer than that so when I cut into it, it wanted to spread on me.

Next time, I hope to not be making the salad on the hood of my car so I’ll have time for a little more finesse, but whatever.  (Did I mention I had to buy and breakdown Romaine lettuce in the Target parking lot?  By the way, yes, I still could have made it on Door Knock Dinners, but then it would have been a spinach salad and I wanted Romaine, darn it!)  Still, it was  a good salad.

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Welcome back to another (slightly later than I would have liked) edition of Spice Week.  In celebration of the Spice Girls reuniting, this week is all about how to use spices in your cooking.

And yes, I realize that herbs de’Provence are herbs and not spices, but bear with me here.  They’re a handy little thing to have for cooking.

Firstly, what are herbs de’ Provence?  Well, they’re herbs…from…Provence, France…

Actually, herbs de’ Provence are a mixture of dried herbs all of which are typically found in abundance in the Provence region of southeastern France and typically contain rosemary, marjoram, basil, bay and thyme.  Sometimes sage or lavendar are added as well.  They are an earthy mix of herbs that are used to add a natural, woodsy flavor to cooked foods.

Use herbs de’ Provence with either very robust flavors like beef or lamb or when you want the herbs to be the star of the show like in herbed chicken or in brown butter sauce poured over cheese ravoli.  Why then?  Well, the herbs in question, especially thyme and rosemary, are very strong and can easily drown out mild flavors like most vegetables or seafood.

Here’s something I am considering doing with some of my herbs de’ Provence.

You will need:

  • One tube of soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup of flower
  • 1/4 cup herbs de’ Provence
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • cooking spray (yes cooking spray…)
  1. Make sure the goat cheese is fresh out of the refrigerator when you prepare this recipe.
  2. Cut the goat cheese into medallions about 1/3 inch thick.  If the cheese is very soft, spin the cheese and press the outer edge of the circle inwards to firm it up almost like folding the edge of a pizza crust.
  3. Mix the flour, herbs, black pepper, and salt together in a plate or wide bowl.
  4. Place the goat cheese medallions on the flour/herb/spice mixture and coat both sides liberally.  As you coat the medallion, press down gently to really get the herbs and flour to stick.
  5. Let the medallions rest in the refrigerator for 5 minutes while the skillet preheats over medium heat.
  6. Coat the skillet and saute two to four medallions over medium heat until the cheese/flour is golden.  This should take about 2-3 minutes per side.

Enjoy as is or tune in tomorrow for my advice on how to top the goat cheese.

I was inspired to write this post while standing at the cheese counter trying to find a good soft goat cheese and wearing a facial expression nestled comfortably between bewildered and desperation.  I was trying to find a cheese for one of my wife’s favorite dishes (queso al horno) and I found myself totally mystified by both the array of cheeses and the fact that I had a very definite picture of what I wanted in my head and nothing that lay before me appeared to match it.

Immediately I was thankful that I was at Whole Foods.   Yes, I know it is a supermarket, but Whole Foods attracts good people who are knowledgeable and passionate about their work and they carry high end product.

Realizing I was a bit lost, I asked one of the people behind the cheese counter about the various soft goat cheeses.  My choices were  immediately narrowed down to three.  Then it got hard again.  Which one?  The white goat cheese, the white goat cheese or…the white goat cheese? 

Then it hit me.  Any cheese shop worth its salt would allow me to sample.  So I asked with a bit of hesistancy if I could try a sample.  The nice lady was more than happy to give me the opportunity and in doing so, solved the mystery of which cheese I should buy.

It also reminded me that that I do not really like plain goat cheese, but that’s another story.

 So when going to buy cheese and the shredded stuff will not do:

  • Go to a reputable cheese seller.  A locally run cheese store is best, but Whole Foods is good, too.
  • Ask questions.  If the person behind the counter does not know the answer or is unfriendly, go somewhere else.  Find someone passionate about their work.  The final dish can only benefit.
  • Sample.  You will not know its good unless it hits your taste buds.  On the other hand, remember you are buying cheese, not bucking for a free dinner.

Anyone have a favorite goat cheeses or favorite goat cheese recipes?