goat cheese

A Good Fall Recipe: Turnip Gratin

by Anne Maxfield on October 10, 2013

Accidental Locavore TurnipsSometimes you just have to let go and live with the consequences. This was the case recently when the Accidental Locavore asked her husband to pick up the CSA share for the week. He tried to make it a test by choosing a bunch of turnips and challenging me to come up with something interesting with them. I was working on the rack of lamb idea and thought some version of a gratin would be interesting with the lamb. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

  • 2 pounds turnips, peeled and sliced very thin (use a mandoline or the thinnest slicing disk on your food processor)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 small bunch thyme
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the dish
  • ½ cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese

Accidental Locavore Turnip GratinPreheat the oven to 375°. Put the cream, milk, garlic and thyme in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to steep for 15-20 minutes. While the cream is steeping, peel and slice the turnips and grease a gratin pan or baking dish (about 11×7”). Layer in 1/2 of the turnips. Sprinkle with ½ of the two cheeses and dot with ½ of the butter. Remove the thyme from the cream and pour ½ of it over the turnips. Repeat with the rest of the turnips, cheeses, butter and cream mixture.

Cover the dish with foil, place on a baking sheet (easier to clean than the oven) and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes until golden brown. Let the dish rest for about 10 minutes, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Needs work. It tasted pretty good, and looked lovely, but my turnips were a little chewy. Might just need a little longer in the oven (or more thinly sliced turnips – I used the 3mm disk). The goat cheese mellowed the peppery flavor of the turnips, so maybe a little more goat and a little less Parmesan. I also tossed the garlic cloves in with the gratin, as who doesn’t like roasted garlic (but if you should be that person, toss the garlic and the thyme). I think the other secret to this dish is not to tell anyone its turnips, as my family wasn’t too interested but probably would have eaten it all up if they thought it was potatoes. What do you think?

Someone commented on HuffPost that she cooked the turnips in the milk and cream mix, then layered them. She said it came out wonderfully. Great idea!

And if you’re being really fussy, yes, those are French turnips from the market in Nice. Beautiful, n’est pas?

 

 

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What’s Big and White and Needs a Name?

by Anne Maxfield on April 18, 2013

Accidental Locavore Coach GiftSometimes it’s hard being the Accidental Locavore.  Large, pristine packages show up on your doorstep camouflaging delicious contents like oysters, or in this case, cheese that you have to taste and comment on. My project for today is to write about this nice, big, white slab of cheese from Coach Farms. It’s in a mysterious, plain, white wrapper, labeled “raw milk cheese.” Part of my challenge is to describe it in such a fashion that one of you will bequeath it with a more stylish moniker. There’s an official contest and to enter, check out the culture site. I’ve also been given this nice picnic bag so keep reading to see how to win that.

“Raw Milk Cheese”(or RMC as I’m going to call it) really does it a disservice, as it’s actually a classy hunk of aged chèvre. A perfect white bloom surrounds a chalkier center, with an inside layer of a runnier paste. Think of it as looking like Humbolt Fog on a clear day….

Accidental Locavore RMC and CrackersEaten on its own, it’s a bit dry in the center, with the outer edges being a little runnier and sharper. It’s all in pretty much perfect proportions with that lovely tang that a good chèvre always packs. On one of my favorite crackers, the paper thin 34° Rosemary Crisps, it’s a perfect combination!

My husband likes RMC straight off the knife. He gets a lemon taste from it that reminds him of fields and says it’s a little decadent, in all the best ways! He’s very much in love with it and we’re both hoping that Coach is soon to market with this gem. Otherwise we’ll have to try to make this wedge last, a near impossible feat! Almost as difficult as trying to describe it, so you can name it.

Accidental Locavore Chevre DauphinoisOn a whim, I decided to see how it was for cooking. Since we were having rack of lamb for dinner how would a chèvre pommes dauphanois be? Sliced my giant potato on the mandoline, warmed some half & half with a smashed clove of garlic and a little nutmeg. Crumbled in about ½ cup of the RMC and let it melt. Poured it over the potatoes, topped with a little more cheese and some butter, figuring how bad can it be? Frank’s verdict was that it was the best dauphinois that I had made; I believe the word he used was spectacular. And who am I to argue?

If you want to experiment at home, Coach was kind enough to send me a cute picnic sack with three of their lovely cheeses (and yes, RMC is one of them) to give to one of my lucky readers. So, here’s the deal: comment below on what you would do with RMC and the best comment will get this yummy gift. Since I would really like to expand my newsletter mailing list, anyone getting more sign-ups for that will get extra credit. You have until midnight EDT on Sunday, April 28th to enter.

 

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This is an easy salad to prepare and if you don’t feel like firing up the grill, you can use a grill pan in the house. While the eggplant is cooling, make the dressing.

Figure 1 eggplant per person.

  • 4 Japanese eggplants, washed, ends trimmed off and slit lengthwise in half
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts  (feel free to use other nuts if you prefer)
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup basil, thinly sliced (chiffonade)
  • 2 tablespoons mint, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Light a grill, or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the eggplants with some of the olive oil. Grill the eggplants until tender, about 3-4 minutes a side. You can serve the eggplants warm or allow them to come to room temperature…your choice.

Mix the balsamic vinegar, remainder of the olive oil, salt and pepper together and set aside.

To serve, plate the eggplants, top with the goat cheese, pine nuts, basil and mint. Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over it. Serve and enjoy!

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Accidental Locavore Merguez Sliders

For the Accidental Locavore May turned into merguez month. This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was grinding and I decided to go for the advanced challenge; making merguez. If you’re not familiar with merguez, it’s a spicy, North African lamb sausage and one of my favorites. The challenge was supposed to be more about grinding your own meat, than making link sausage, however once you get started…

The locavore used a recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow (the brains behind Charcutepalooza) on Food52, combined with ideas from Charcuterie. Grinding the lamb and mixing it with spices and harissa was easy. Whenever you make sausage and/or pate (forcemeat) two rules are critical: everything must be kept very cold, and you always want to make a small patty, fry it up, and check it for seasonings. Mine needed salt and a little more heat, so I added some hot smoked paprika to the original recipe.Accidental Locavore Merguez

The Accidental Locavore took a huge amount of time dealing with the sausage casings. I was using sheep’s casings as they are smaller than pig’s and merguez is a thinner sausage than say, Italian sausage.  Mistake! Imagine trying to work something similar to slimy overcooked angel hair pasta and you start to get the idea. I’ve made sausage before, but it’s been a while and never with these tiny casings. Once I managed to get the sausages stuffed they did in fact, look like merguez. By this time, it was late, I was tired and still hadn’t eaten dinner. Necessity is definitely the mother of invention…

I took the leftover sausage meat, made patties and fried them up. Halfway through, inspiration! There was some beautiful lettuce in the fridge and a log of a somewhat local (Vermont) chèvre. A new classic was born: merguez sliders with goat cheese on a bed of greens. I topped the merguez patties with a slice of chèvre and stuck them under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. While that was working, a quick vinaigrette: equal parts good red wine vinegar and good olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Beat with a fork until well combined (the mustard acts as an emulsifier and holds it all together). You can add a small minced shallot and/or some herbs de Provence if you like, or be lazy like me and keep it simple.

What a great combination! Next time the Accidental Locavore will grill the merguez patties, excuse me, sliders, add a few toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top and perfection!

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