goat cheese

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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Accidental Locavore Raw Milk Cheeses

Have you ever thought about making your own cheese? Easier just to run down to a great cheese store like Murray’s right? True, but don’t you wonder how easy/hard it really is? For the Accidental Locavaore it was a natural spin-off after making my own yogurt . In New York, most cheesemaking classes are just making mozzarella or ricotta, however I wanted to get into something more complex. Murray’s finally offered a Cheesemaking 101 class so I went down to check it out. All the classes there are small and you’re always guaranteed excellent cheese to taste (not to mention the run of the store to buy whatever after class) and this was no exception. I had thought it was going to be hands-on, DIY cheese, however it turned out to be a lecture on what goes into cheesemaking. Interesting but ultimately disappointing as I was prepared to start turning milk into much better stuff.

A lot of simple, fresh cheeses are pretty easy to make. As with yogurt, it’s just a matter of heating milk to a certain point and adding some sort of starter. Then you need to suspend the belief that any milk left out on the counter overnight will kill you, it won’t. After that it’s all about separating the curds and whey, letting the curds drain and come together and voila, cheese! Sascha, our instructor, passed around a lovely fresh goat cheese she had made the night before and was working on a ricotta that wouldn’t come together for some reason. We also got to be the first to taste Kinderhook Creek, the newest cheese from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. You might know their Camembert (delicious) or their blue cheese (also wonderful), this was a mellow semi-soft cheese. Although Murray’s had aged it in their cave I thought it could have been a little riper to give it a little more pronounced flavor. Fussy, huh?

Accidental Locavore Creme FraicheSo what’s up with the crème fraiche? If you’ve ever wondered what to do with leftover buttermilk, crème fraiche is the answer. Mix 2 tablespoons of buttermilk with a cup of heavy (whipping) cream in a glass container. Cover and let it stand at room temperature for 8-24 hours (this is what I meant about suspending belief) until very thick. It will keep (and get a bit thicker) in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Serve and enjoy.

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