A zucchini mint fritter, & a goat cheese giveaway!

Sometimes, parenting feels like being an optimistic, wild, very patient gardener (as all gardeners must be), just walking across a fertile field and throwing seeds out there, trusting something good will grow. Or something useful. We don’t know what will grow first, or when, or how.

And so last night, Pablo was being particularly charming by saying ‘merci’ to us every time we handed him something, and absolutely sensing this little inner satisfaction any parent probably feels when they hear their kid say “thank you” spontaneously. As if it were proof of good parenting. Wish it were that simple!

Feeding off our validation, he happily went on, “Merci, maman. Merci, papa. Merci, mamette.” Then he paused and looked down at his plate (which happened to contain a warm plum chards goat cheese salad he really likes). And he said, “Merci, miam miam.” Thank you, yummy food.

It took me a couple of seconds past the cuteness factor to realize what Pablo had just expressed: he was grateful, for the food, for dinner.

Gratitude, that’s definitely one of those wild seeds to throw in the wind with no clue in what form it might grow in our children. I certainly wasn’t expecting it then. Made me feel so warm within.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do since the very beginning with Pablo, is create good food associations. Food equals pleasure, family connection, laughter, friends, interesting smells, discovery… And beyond that, hopefully, food is generosity, love, harmony with the body, with the world.

And gratitude and appreciation of a wonderful, ordinary moment of the day.

I heard the sprouts of that food association when Pablo said it. Now it’s just keep nurturing it and watch it grow more.

Speaking of gratitude, I am most grateful to Vermont Creamery for giving me an opportunity to come up with some recipes, using their wonderful goat cheeses, as part of their Kid & Kid Campaign, like the cherry gazpacho with herbed goat cheese I shared last week.

If you know this blog, you probably know that I don’t do kids’ foods. Pablo eats what we eat (or we eat what he eats!). Past 12-15 months, nothing’s off limits as far as I’m concerned. So these fritters are as close to a kid’s food as I’m ever going to get, and our whole family enjoyed them thoroughly.

I posted another fritter recipe last year and was so surprised at the response it got! People really like fritters! These zucchini mint goat cheese fritters are not only good, they’re good for you (thank you, coconut oil!), and they’re easy… But I shall rest my case now, because I bet I had you at “fritters” 😉

And with one treat comes another: presenting now my first giveaway! So, for a chance to win a Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery gift basket, with three different kinds of goat cheese and some vanilla crème fraîche, use the Rafflecopter tool below to enter in a variety of ways. The giveaway ends next Friday night.

And scroll below for the fritter recipe!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Zucchini mint goat cheese fritters, with smoked salmon, dill crown & red pepper creamy goat cheese garnish

Makes about 10 fritters

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 15 min approx

Age for babies: 10-12 months, great finger food.

1 pound of zucchini
1 tsp coarse salt
1 onion
1 egg
1 tbsp chopped mint (= 2-3 sprigs)
3 oz fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup of spelt flour (AP works too)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup milk (goat or cow)
Coconut oil for frying

To serve (optional):

10 small slices of smoked salmon
Crown dill (or dill) for garnish 
Roasted red pepper creamy goat cheese

Cut off the ends of the zucchini, wash them, and grate them by hand or in a food processor.

Pour in a bowl, add the coarse salt and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and mint. Lightly beat the egg. Crumble the fresh goat cheese with a fork.

Put the grated zucchini in a thin dishtowel (or cheesecloth), and wring the heck out of it to get rid of the excess water. Quite a bit of green liquid should come out.

In a bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. Add the egg, coconut milk and milk. Add in the zucchini, chopped mint and onion and stir. Gently incorporate the crumbled goat cheese.

Preheat the oven at 200°F.

In a frying pan, melt 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil on medium/medium-high. Drop large spoonfuls of the batter in, pressing on top to flatten a bit. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the edges are golden. Flip them and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Cook in 2 or 3 batches depending on the size of your pan.  I had to add about 1 tbsp of coconut oil with every batch.

Set on absorbent paper, then transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 10 minutes to keep warm and increase crispiness factor.

Serve warm with a slice of smoked salmon on top, and garnish with a bit of roasted red pepper creamy goat cheese and some crown dill.

Or you can skip the salmon and just spread some of the creamy goat cheese on, Pablo enjoyed that part very much!

(The fritters keep well in the fridge, reheat in the oven at 350° for 5-10 min).

A warm goat cheese salad, & 8 tips for an enjoyable restaurant meal with your kids

Life can be such a whirlwind, even if that whirlwind is made of lots of in-the-moment moments and exciting new collaborations. Such was this past week for me, with a few days camping in the wilderness completely offline (will share more on that soon). Also I was thrilled to have a couple of guest posts on two of my favorite (albeit completely different in theme!) blogs. If you haven’t already seen them and are inclined to do so, there’s one on parenting on Janet Lansbury’s blog, and another about writing on Shanna and Tim’s Food Loves Writing. Very grateful, for these posts brought in a lot of new followers, so if that’s you, welcome!

For this new installment of my Summer Goat Cheese Series in collaboration with Vermont Creamery’s Kids & Kids Campaign, I wanted to share a version of the French restaurant classic: the salade de chèvre chaud (warm goat cheese salad). Most restaurants, cafés and brasseries in France have it on their menu, it is what the French would consider a “run-of-the-mill” first course (or main course for lunch). This is also a dish Pablo LOVES, and which I would order for him in a heartbeat in a restaurant, as I think would a lot of French parents for their kids (or themselves for that matter.)

This is giving me an opportunity to write a somewhat practical post on taking kids (including infants and toddlers) to the restaurant.

One of my favorite connecting time with Pablo is when the both of us go out to lunch once in a while. We have taken him out to eat with us since he was a couple of months old, and continued to do so every so often since then. Between 6 and 12 months, I would bring his food with me (I would pack some vegetable finger food as a first course, a puree for the main course, some cheese and a yogurt for dessert) and give him a taste of what we were having depending on what it was. After 12 months, Pablo started to eat pretty much the same as us, I could easily just order for him from the menu.

Probably one of the greatest unspoken French rules of eating, is that a meal should be thoroughly enjoyable. If it is stressful or rushed, it feels like a waste. On recent trips, and as Pablo is at the height of toddlerhood (27 months now), I have been very grateful and so happy to see how great he is when we take him out to eat. He loves it, he stays at the table and is fairly well-mannered (the walls usually remain clean when we leave!), he eats heartily and with interest. I can relax and enjoy the meal with minor adjustments here and there.

A lot of people have witnessed this and expressed great surprise, and have asked me what my secret is. I never thought of it as a secret, but thinking back on it, that thoroughly enjoyable meal with our children has a few preconditions. Here are eight strategies and tips that have worked for us:

1 – We eat together as a family on a daily basis

So sitting down together for a meal, and eating the same (real) foods as us is nothing out of the ordinary for Pablo. It makes sense that children that are most often fed alone, before the grown-ups, wouldn’t do too well sitting at the table in a restaurant for a while. I’m really big on the family meal for many reasons, this one included. Plus, when children are fed separately, their meal is usually much faster than a family meal would be. (I’ve actually noticed on a couple of occasions where I ate a meal without Pablo, how much faster I eat then. Eating with him, encouraging him to eat slowly and mindfully, and being engaged with him during our family meals has helped me to slow down my eating greatly too.)

I should add also that thanks to a few strategies practised over time, our meals, at home or at the restaurant, are mostly sans power struggles or boundary testings, which is a blessing.

2 – We eat in courses at home

Just like at a restaurant. Pablo is used to eating a first course, then wait a little bit before the main course, then cheese and fruit or yogurt for dessert if desired. I’ve talked about the many benefits of eating in courses in this very popular post. This is definitely an added benefit. When we go out to eat, the waiting factor is a non-issue. While we wait for the food, we have a nice little conversation about what we ordered and how the chef in the kitchen is preparing it, that usually gets his imagination going. Or we people watch, Pablo loves that too 🙂

3 – We engage him as an integral member of the meal

If we go out with Pablo, it is to have a nice meal with him. Otherwise, we go out without him, which we sometimes need to do and that’s fine. So I always make sure he’s part of the conversation, like any person you would have dinner with. This is definitely a time to connect. (When you think of it, how rude would it be to go out with someone to then proceed to have private conversations that exclude them?)

4 – He’s used to real food, and a wide variety of it

Forget kids’ menus. In most restaurants I’ve been to, they are a crying shame (as is the idea of kids’ food, in my opinion…) So I always order on the regular menu for him, and we share some of our dishes with him. The portions are often so big anyway, it works out perfectly. For example, recently at The Black Cat in Cambria, I ordered the celery root cilantro soup (which inspired this post) to share with him along with a couple of appetizers for us, and we shared our entrees with him, so he could get a taste of everything (which he loves).

The fact that he eats just about everything is a big factor as well, due to the fact that he’s been exposed to a wide variety of foods (vegetables, meat, fish) since 5 months old and especially during that golden window 6-18 months roughly where infants are so willing to try new foods and put just about anything in their mouth (a crucial period to steer away from kids’ foods). Even if he were to reject anything new now (which is not the case), he’s already tried so many different things these past two years of life that I would be hard pressed to find a (real) food he hasn’t already had. So no matter where we eat, there will always be something he will enjoy eating.

5 – He’s used to mindful eating

I usually avoid distractions at the table, so the meal is an end in itself and a pleasurable experience deserving of our full attention. Same goes at the restaurant. I definitely avoid all screens across the board (I will admit seeing kids or adults focused on their phones or other screens at the table drives me crazy). If there are television screens in the restaurant, I try to ask for a table away from them (or better, choose screen-free restaurants!)  I might bring a small book or a crayon or two if the meal or the wait get a bit long.

6 – We go at the right time

I try to have realistic expectations, i.e. make sure Pablo’s not too tired, that he’s had a good afternoon nap or good night sleep if it’s lunch out. Also I try to make sure he’s had plenty of independent, self-directed play prior to the meal so he’s relaxed and ready to connect (but not overtired). And we go early enough so he doesn’t start to fade mid-meal. At home, we usually sit down for dinner between 6:45 and 7p, when we go out, we try for 6:30-6:45 to have plenty of time to enjoy the meal. I also make sure he’s bathed and in his pajamas when we go (or for a fancier meal, I bring his pajamas with me and change him at the restaurant after the meal). Thus the meal is the last, relaxing event of the day for everyone.

7 – We make sure he’s hungry


Snacking is very limited in our household, so the family meals are enjoyed fully and eaten with good appetite. Pablo has an afternoon snack (usually pretty light, he doesn’t seem to get that hungry) between 4:30 and 5pm. If we go out to dinner, I might offer it a bit earlier to insure he has a good appetite.

When we get to the restaurant, we also try to limit eating too much bread before the food arrives. (Bread is never served first in a French restaurant typically, but to accompany the meal in reasonable quantity, definitely not the thing to get full on when you’re most hungry.)

8 – Choosing the right restaurant


We don’t necessarily go for the typical “family-friendly”, as it can mean a loud environment. So first we choose a restaurant where we enjoy the food (seems obvious, but my point is that that takes priority over being “kid-friendly”.) We also try to go to restaurants that do have high-chairs or boosters: Toddlers tend to get fidgety and expecting them to sit still in a booth bench for example, is unrealistic, they’re bound to want to slide around, jump etc.

Also we choose restaurants that are not too loud. I found that Pablo gets tired and over-excited and stimulated fast with a very loud place (as we do.) So a place that lends itself to conversation is best (though since we usually go earlier than the crowds would, that often works out).

There you have it! I hope this is helpful. Would love to hear your tips and feedback!

In the meantime, enjoy this warm goat cheese salad, and if you want more information about Vermont Creamery and the Kids & Kids Campaign, check out their Facebook Page and Pinterest page too. As good as this salad was, their cheeses are so scrumptious I always enjoy them most pure, from the tip of my fingers 🙂

Golden Beet Warm Goat Cheese Salad, with Sorrel Almond Pesto

Serves 2/3

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45-60 minutes

Age for babies: 8-10 months, the pieces of beet topped with warm goat cheese make a great finger food.

Lamb’s lettuce (mâche) (or other lettuce of choice, watercress would do nicely too)

2-3 golden beets

For the pesto dressing:

20-25 leaves of sorrel (or other herb of choice, or use the beet greens – see note below)

2-3 tbsp sliced almonds

Olive oil (I used 1/2 cup here)

Juice of half a lemon

Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven at 450°F. Cut the greens off the beets, give the beets a wash and wrap them individually in foil. Place in a baking pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender when you prick them with a knife. 

When done, remove the foil and let them cool. (You can do this a few days ahead and just have the cooked beets in the fridge, ready for salads etc.)

Make the pesto: Combine the sorrel leaves and almonds in a food processor, and add the olive oil progressively until you obtain a thick but pourable dressing. Then add the lemon juice and season to taste. (You will probably have leftover dressing, which can be used on any salad).

(*Note that you can make any other kind of pesto dressing of choice here, check out this awesome one from Food Loves Writing)

Peel the beets and cut medium thick slices lengthwise. 

Preheat your broiler at 500°F, and place the tray at the top position, close to the heat.

Prepare your plates: put some mâche in each plate, add a little dressing on top (alternatively, you can put all the mâche in a bowl and toss it with some dressing prior to plating).  Place a few slices of beet on top of the mâche.

Then take the cheese out of the fridge and cut thick slices lengthwise with a knife or cheese wire cutter if you have one (one Coupole makes 3 to 4 thick slices).

Place the slices of goat cheese on a non-stick baking pan, or on parchment paper in a baking pan, and broil for a few minutes, until it starts to get golden. (Watch this carefully, it melts fast! It should only take a couple of minutes).

Place the warm goat cheese slices on top of beet slices in each plate, top with a little pesto dressing, and serve immediately.

Pear and Blue Cheese risotto

I love blue cheese and especially in winter I would regularly crave its sharp flavor, so I try to come up with new excuses pairings to enjoy my cheese. The other day I decided to make a risotto with blue cheese.

Pear and Blue Cheese risotto

Ingredients

  • 14 oz. arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 1 quart broth
  • blue cheese
  • 1-2 pears
  • 1 onion
  • EVOO
  • pepper
  • parsley (optional)
  • butter

Directions

  1. I started out by sauteing two thinly sliced pears in a bit of butter until browned. Then, I took the pears out of the pan and in the same pan I added a bit of oil and sauteed some onion. When the onion was soft I added rice for risotto (about 2 handfuls per person) and let it toast a bit.
  2. When the rice was well toasted and translucent (you’ll see the grain become almost transparent), I added a splash of white wine and let it evaporate. When the wine evaporated, I started adding boiling broth (I usually use beef broth but you can use your favorite) one ladle at a time and waiting to add the next ladle until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. It should take about 30 min and a quart of broth for 4 people.
  3. When the rice was almost done, I added my cup or so of diced blue cheese (I used blue Stilton but any kind of blue cheese would be good). You should do this about 5 minutes before the rice is ready and after adding some broth so that the cheese can melt in the liquid. Finally, right before taking the rice off the stove I mixed in the pears. Add parsley and/or pepper to taste.
  4. Super cheesy and sophisticated, great for entertaining on a cold winter night!
  5. And remember: “al contadino non far sapere quanto e’ buono il formaggio con le pere” (Don’t let the farmer know how good is cheese with pears)!!

Baked eggplant, figs & goat cheese… & the meaning of sharing

I’ve made this analogy here before, but I often think of parenting as blindly planting wild seeds in a garden, and waiting to see how and when they will grow into something. I don’t think we teach our children so much as we are their model. The seeds contain all the complexity of our behavior,demeanor, focus and interests as parents. We can’t just will the fruit into being. We must plant, nurture and patiently wait. 

When it comes, the fruit is all the sweeter. 

And such a precious fruit is ripening within Pablo right now.

Pablo has started to share food. I mean that at every meal or picnic, he makes a point of taking some of the food in the main serving platter, and makes sure that everyone is served. He wants to give a piece of the  pie gratin, or salad, or cheese, as the case may be, to each person at the table. He does this as a task of importance and seriousness.

I am really of the mind that there’s no such thing as teaching sharing, and that making children share (especially infants and toddlers) teaches them absolutely nothing (except that sharing is an annoying but apparently necessary part of life). Sharing is sharing only if it’s completely spontaneous and voluntary, if it comes from the heart. The art of sharing is truly one of those fruits that grow unexpectedly, when you model it and let it happen naturally.

Unexpectedly indeed, for I hadn’t realized, that each time we sat down together at the table to share a meal, every time we shared the same dish we all ate, every time I offered Pablo to taste something from my plate at a restaurant, every time we cooked for the whole family, we were unconsciously modeling sharing. And Pablo assimilated it in this intrinsic way, so that it seems completely natural to him that everyone at the table should get their share so we can all eat together. 

I guess my point is this: a child will learn so much more about the real meaning of sharing by having a home cooked family meal, than by being forced to share his most prized possession. 

And with or without children, sharing a home-cooked meal with loved ones is such a deeply communal and connective experience. It is an active act of sharing and togetherness (no wonder Michael Pollan says “the family meal is the nursery of democracy”.)

I keep talking about life lessons at the table and in the kitchen. And wow, these lessons just keep appearing before my eyes, yielding my amazement and gratitude.

This is one of those very seasonal, extremely easy, delicious melt-in-your-mouth recipes with all the flavors of late summer. I hope you will enjoy sharing it with people you cherish.

Oh, and since we’re in a sharing kind of mood here :-), below the recipe is our weekly menu. Hope it can spark some ideas for your family.

Baked eggplant, with figs, cherry tomatoes & goat cheese

Serves 2-3

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 35-40 min

Age for babies: 10-12 months (though simple roasted eggplant with some goat cheese could be given from about 8 months)

1 eggplant

Olive oil

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

8 small figs

Pepper

Preheat the oven at 400°F.

Wash the eggplant, cut off the top, and slice lengthwise.

Make incisions through the flesh but not the skin with a knife (three in each direction). Brush with olive oil.

Place in baking pan on parchment paper, flesh side down (skin up).

Bake for about 20-25 min. The skin will start to shrivel a little.

In the meantime, wash and half the figs and tomatoes.

Take the eggplant out of the oven, and set your oven to broiler.

Turn the eggplant halves over, place the figs and tomatoes on top. Place pieces of the goat cheese on top. 

Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.

Place in the broiler for about 10-12 min, until the cheese is melted and golden.

Serve while hot! Bon appétit!

On to the week’s menu:

Cheeses of the week: Following French tradition, I always offer a little bit of cheese at the end of every meal, between the main course and dessert. Rotation this week: Danish blue cheese, Port Salut (cow cheese), goat brie and Petit Basque (sheep).

DessertsAt lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer sticking to plain yogurt (regular homemade* whole milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk and Greek yogurt for extra protein) to avoid too much sugar before bedtime.

If you would like a particular recipe on the menu, feel free to contact me! (I marked with a * the recipes that will be the topic of upcoming posts).


MONDAY

Lunch – Picnic at the park
Cucumber, hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, cold chicken, avocado, goat cheese, grapes and cherries

Goûter (4pm snack) – Mango

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Baked eggplant with figs and goat cheese (above!)
Main course: Oven roasted pork tenderloin in mustard sauce, with blue potatoes

TUESDAY

Lunch – Picnic at the park again
Green beans, cauliflower, blue potato salad + roast beef + Babybel cheese, plums & cherries

Goûter – Peach

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Authentic Greek salad
Main course: Duck breasts with braised radishes and cherries*

WEDNESDAY

Lunch at the park 
Cold pea & herb salad, cherry tomatoes, ham, goat gouda, nectarine

Goûter – Nectarine

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: French radishes with salt & butter
Main course: Quails eggs en cocotte with smoked salmon, leek and zucchini from La Tartine Gourmande (this was so spectacular I can’t wait to make it again!)

THURSDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Grated carrots with orange juice dressing
Main course: Mushroom caps stuffed with cream of sardines

Goûter – Passion fruit

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Golden beet warm goat cheese salad
Main course: Pan-fried creamy turkey breasts with summer vegetables in parchment from Just One Cookbook

FRIDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Green asparagus with vinaigrette
Main course: Sauteed shrimp with lime and coconut quinoa

Goûter – Peach

Dinner 
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cucumber salad with creamy yogurt tarragon dressing
Main course: Trying this tomato cobbler from Food Loves Writing, soft boiled egg

SATURDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Tomato, basil & onion salad
Main course: Steak tartare, butter lettuce with fresh herbs

Goûter – Plum

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Artichoke custard
Main course: Clams in fennel shallot broth from Cannelle & Vanille

SUNDAY

Lunch OUT


Goûter – Cherries

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Corn coconut chowder
Main course: Caramelized fennel, goat cheese, kale clafoutis (crustless quiche)

A cherry soup with goat cheese recipe

Sit down for a good dinner with a few French people, and by the
time the cheese course comes around, the conversation will often get either
cerebral or gastronomical. A little bit like this blog, which lately has really
felt like an ongoing and lovely cyber-meal with friends from all parts (you
guys). And I have been kind of cerebral in my posts lately, so I’m feeling the
need to switch gears to talk about something that has always brought much rejoicing
in our lives, namely: goat cheese.

I’ve had a long love affair with goat cheese. When I was a
child in Normandy
in the 80s, some of the most memorable foods I can remember eating and loving
were oysters at Christmas time, my mother’s green (watercress) soup, and the
small round goat cheese in the blue box named Chevrita, which I could easily
have eaten in one sitting if left to my own devices.

Fast forward 30 years later. Pregnant with Pablo, I had very
few cravings… but I did have one in particular. You guessed it, goat cheese
again. In every form!

So, unsurprisingly, since he has been feasting on it his entire existence via amniotic fluid (isn’t it amazing fetuses can taste flavors at
21 weeks? The education of taste starts early! Interesting article on this here), then via breastmilk, and shortly
thereafter, whenever he could put his own little hands on it, Pablo adores goat
cheese. Not just mixed in other things, but straight. And not just the milder
chèvre (fresh goat cheese), but the hardcore, aged, gamy-tasting ones too.  The fact that goat cheese is really healthy
and easier to digest than cow dairy, is almost irrelevant, really. Goat and
sheep’s milk cheeses are the first I gave him when I introduced cheese around 8
months old.
Since I moved to the US some 16 years ago, the cheese
has improved a lot here. In variety and quality (thank you, Trader Joe’s and Whole
Foods). Of course, it’s not quite the myriad of artisan cheesemakers found all over France… and we often treat ourselves with imported French cheeses. But there’s
nothing like local artisan cheese. Last year, I came across these gorgeous,
irresistible goat cheeses made by Vermont Creamery and it was love at first
taste. (I had mentioned them for those baked apples with goat cheese).
This is the real deal. I swear, a bite of their Bonne Bouche transports me right back to France. 
So you imagine my delight when Vermont Creamery contacted me recently to
1/ let me know they read and like my blog (so cool), 2/ ask me if I wanted to participate
in their Kids & Kids campaign by creating some kid-friendly recipes with
goat cheese (even cooler), 3/ kindly offered me some samples for inspiration (full
disclosure!) ;-).

This challenge has certainly gotten my culinary juices
going, so I’ll be happily sharing some goat cheese recipes of all kinds in the
coming weeks, and I’ll be hosting my first giveaway, so stay tuned for a chance
to win some delicious cheeses! 

We went cherry picking last weekend in the LeonaValley and came back with pounds of cherries, in dire need of another purpose than to just
be devoured on the spot. Thus this successful experiment of a gazpacho. 

Outside of the fact that Pablo loves to say the word “gazpacho” (and who doesn’t?), he now loves to help make it (a toddler friendly recipe). And he loves to drink it. It’s easy to make, nutritious and vitamin-packed, delicious and fun. Need I continue or are you sold?

The sweet and tangy flavors of this cold soup and the incredibly creamy and delicate herbed chèvre Vermont Creamery makes, were truly a match made in heaven. Ever so flavorful spoonfuls of summer.

Cherry gazpacho with herbed goat cheese

Prep time: 30 mn (pitting cherries isn’t for the impatient.)

Age for babies: 10-12 months.

10 oz cherries (I used a mix of rainier and bing)

2 very ripe heirloom tomatoes

2-3 sprigs of dill, stems removed.

2 tbsp hazelnut meal (or almond meal)

Freshly ground pepper to taste

About 4 oz herbed goat cheese (plain works too)

Prep the first 8 ingredients: starting with washing and pitting the cherries; wash, seed and cut up the peppers;  peel and dice the cucumber; wash, core and cut up the tomatoes; dice the red onion, wash and grossly mince the herbs.

Place it all in the blender and add the hazelnut meal, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Blend on high until very smooth (longer than you think you have to, otherwise you’ll feel the cherry skins.)

Place the blender pitcher in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill.

Before serving, give it one last whirl, and pour in bowls. Add crumbled goat cheese on top, and some dill or basil for garnish.