Archive | August, 2010

Fresh Creamy Goat Cheese

24 Aug

There are certain ingredients that are so versatile that they are often overlooked. Goat cheese is just one of those ingredients. Since I’ve been working in the cheese shop, I’ve tried a lot of cheeses that I had never tried previously. But, this creamy fresh goat cheese is tops. You can use it anywhere that you would use cream cheese or ricotta cheese.

Goat cheese tends to get type casted as a salad topper, but it is so much more than that. This creamy version is great because it helps to break the stigma. Since it’s creamy, it spreads easily. It makes an easy appetizer out of toasted baguette and caramelized onions. You can use it as a filling base in ravioli or add it to roasted red peppers and puree.

Goat cheese can also serve as a base on pizza of my favorite, whipped. You read correctly, whipped. This works great with the creamy version of the goat cheese, but it can be done with the regular as well. Simply put 4 oz of your chosen goat cheese into your stand mixer and whip away. Let the cheese go in the mixer for 5-6 minutes or until the cheese is light and fluffy. I like to put my whipped cheese in a bowl and drizzle it with really high quality extra virgin olive oil and freshly crack black pepper. Serve along side cherry tomatoes and wheat crackers.

Still need more ideas. Well, try using your goaty goodness in an omlette.

Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Omelets
Serves 1

Hardware:
Rubber Spatula
8-inch non-stick sauté pan
Small mixing bowl
Balloon wisk

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1 oz roasted red peppers
1/4 oz fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, separated
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl add the eggs and salt and pepper and wisk until the yolks and whites are thoroughly combined
  2. Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat and add in 1 tablespoon of the butter and swirl around the pan
  3. Add in the scrambled eggs
  4. Using a rubber spatula, push the eggs around the pan and swirl the pan until the eggs start to set
  5. Add in the goat cheese and the peppers in the center of the eggs
  6. Fold 1/3 of the eggs over the center
  7. Using your rubber spatula guide the folded edge onto a dinner plate
  8. Using the edge of the pan fold the remaining edge over the top

Rub the top of the omelet with the remaining teaspoon of butter and sprinkle the top with the chives

Next time you’re in your local cheese shop, ask for some Vermont Butter and Cheese. If you don’t think you’re a fan of goat cheese, give it another try. You’ll be surprised how added something else, mellows out the tangy and gamey flavor of the goat’s milk. If you really want to ease your way in, add some honey and cinnamon. The sweetness is a great compliment.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

You say tomato, I say dinner

16 Aug

With summer on it’s way out there are a few things you can count on. First, the “back-to-school” commercials start their haunting jingles. Second, your grill has burned more charcoal than a first semester art school. And, third, you have run out of ideas for all of the tomatoes coming out of your garden.

I like to think of tomatoes as my go to flavor all year. They impart sweetness, acidity, and color to every dish that they are added to. But, Summer tomatoes are special. Because Summer is their season, tomatoes are allowed to fully ripen on the vine. This means that their sugars have fully developed and the acids have mellowed. They become deep red in color, as opposed to the redish pink color Winter tomatoes have. Once you start eating your ruby beauties it’s like an addiction. You just can’t get enough! The problem is, what do you do with your tomatoes once you’ve had your fill of sauce, salsa, soup, salads and sandwiches?

The key here is rethinking your processes. If you’ve make 6 versions of cooked tomato sauce, try a raw version:

Raw Tomato Sauce

2 large beefsteak tomatoes, grated
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 cup basil, chiffonade
2 tablespoons high quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a bowl and allow to marinate for 4-8 hours or overnight. Serve over cooked pasta.

Or try to put a new twist on an old favorite. Use creamy goat cheese instead of mayo on that sandwich. Hollow out your tomato halves and use them to bake eggs in. Then eat everything together for a light easy breakfast. Give your usual BLT a kick in the pants and add roasted red peppers or pesto. Dry your tomatoes in the oven for 2 hours at 300. Stash in the fridge coved with olive oil. These will keep for a week (if you don’t eat them) and are perfect for pasta, salad or a quick snack.

The only thing that tomatoes don’t really take well to is freezing. Well, freezing before cooking that is. Tomatoes have so much water in them that when you freeze them, the sharp ice crystals puncture and cut all of the structure  in the cells of the tomato flesh. When you thaw them, the tomatoes are flavorless and have an unpleasant mushy texture.

If you have more tomatoes that you couldn’t possibly finish, consider 2 things. First, donations to all your tomato-less friends are nice (wink wink, nudge nudge) and second cook before you freeze. The cooking process breaks down the cell structure of the tomatoes like freezing does, but the heat does it in a good way. But cooking the tomatoes, you release the juice quickly. The heat causes the water to evaporate and concentrate the flavor (i.e. yum.) After cooking your tomatoes for at least 15 minutes you should be safe to freeze them. But do it quickly and seal them tightly.

The best way to preserve summer’s bounty is to can. Canning is to be tackled in another post, but you run less risk of damaging the flavor of your tomatoes when you can. Plus, there’s nothing like finding a jar of tomatoes in your pantry mid-November and thinking fondly of summer fun.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

“Stock” broker

3 Aug

Stocks are underrated. I know that it’s not the most exciting thing, but the truth is that without a good foundation like a stock your dish will taste lack-luster and flat. Now before you stop reading, keep in mind that the color white is not particularly exciting, until you go to the hardware store and see 50 different choices for white.

Basic stock is like a blank canvas. When you start with bones, water and a few vegetables, you get back a flavorful liquid that can and will enhance any dish that you add it too. It sounds like a no brainer right? Well, if it’s so simple, why are so many people wasting money on bad imitation broths and boxes? The soup aisle at the grocery store is full of cans and boxes of liquid that claim to add flavor to your dishes but, they are really just adding salt. Why else would some of them say low sodium? When you make your own stock you can regulate the salt and everything else that goes in. And for me, that is enough.

Look at the 4 main ingredients, bones, water, vegetables, and flavorings. First, bones. You want to use bones that contain a lot of gelatin. These are mostly leg, joint and back bones. Of course, anything you can add into the stock will add flavor and that is the goal. These miscellaneous items include wing tips, fish heads, and shrimp shells. Of course you’ll want to stick to one animal at a time as not to complicate the flavors too much. You also want to roast your selected bones prior to adding them to the pot. The roasting process will bring out underlying flavors.

Next, the water. Make sure the water cold and filtered. Cold water will allow the stock to come to temperature all at once and will extract the gelatin slowly.

Choose your vegetables wisely. Anything you add to the pot will add flavor. If your stock is going into some homey chicken noodle you don’t want to add ingredients like lemongrass or ginger. Of course mire poix is traditional (1 part carrot, 1 part celery, and 2 parts onions.) I like to add flavorings that will enhance my end product. For example, I just made a duck stock for duckling l’orange. I added oranges and a little fennel into the stock to up the flavor. I sometimes add garlic, and shallots, or anything else I need to use up in the fridge.

Herbs and spices work similarly to the vegetables. Traditionally, you would use a boquet garni which is peppercorns, parsley stems, and thyme wrapped in cheese cloth. I like to add leeks and rosemary to some of my stocks to really jazz things up.

Whatever the stock, you want cook it slowly, don’t let it boil or the gelatins will fall apart and the stock will be low in quality. Let your stocks cook for 2-3 hours, strain and then cool before storing.

Once you’ve started making your own stock, you’ll never go back to cans

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie