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.

On trust, & a banana goat cheese cassolette

So I have been stuck. Pulled in too many directions. Vaguely
anxious about an uncertain future. Overworked and exhausted. And away from this
space these past 10 days. Partly because time is sadly a-lacking. We are moving
in the coming month, so I apologize in advance if things are a little slower than usual around here in the next few weeks, as I juggle through this big transition. 

While I hope this daunting task will be cleansing, a
new beginning, it’s gotten me feeling all over the place, inside and out. And when I feel too overwhelmed, deregulated, I get stuck.

I have much to learn from my 27 months old son in this area.

Pablo has been into Legos recently. With incredible patience
and focus, he piles the pieces as high as he can, experimenting with balance. The
tower falls apart, he starts over, unfazed.

But yesterday, he was grumpy. He didn’t nap long enough. And he
started playing with his Legos. Except every single time something would fall
apart (every few seconds), he would get so frustrated, cry and scream. So I sat
next to him, acknowledged his feelings and commented on his struggle, as I always try to do (much more on that here). He was so upset, I started to suggest he maybe change activity,
that perhaps he was too tired and cranky for it at the moment. But then, it hit
me: he keeps going. Yes, he feels frustrated and annoyed, he cries and screams.
And he picks up the pieces and starts over again, without a hint of hesitation. He
doesn’t show any inkling of wanting to stop. He can deal. He is able to feel
his feelings and keep going. He doesn’t get stuck.

I have been trying to follow his example. Feel what I feel. And
keep going. It’s hard.

I guess it’s also where trust comes in. To keep going,
one must trust. Oneself, and life itself. And the process too. I have learned
much about trust in raising Pablo. I have learned to trust him so he can trust
himself (more on that also here). I trust him to know what his body needs, what his brain needs. I trust his abilities, to learn, to struggle, to be. And the thing
about trust, is that it is so often self-fulfilling (as is fear).

So I’ve been trying to swivel my brain, from fear to trust, via acknowledging
the present moment.

The other morning, up at dawn to work out at the park, I felt exhausted
and feared I would not make it through this workout. I noticed how discouraged
I felt, that daunting feeling of what’s ahead. Then I made myself trust that
somehow I would get through it.

I thought of the blog, the photos and recipes I needed to
work on. I felt behind and feared not to be able to find the time. Then, I
looked at the incredible diffused light through the cloud cover over the park. I
noticed that perfect, enveloping veil of light and imagined photographing a beautiful plate of food, right there. Then
I made myself trust that I would find the time for a new recipe when I would be ready.

I saw two old ladies walking side by side and chatting, two
old friends. It reminded me of the friend who is no longer among us, the one I
used to walk with, the one I had imagined myself walking and chatting with at
80. I felt sadness and remembered. I knew she would have trusted me to pull
through these tumultuous times. I must do that for myself now.

The thing is… the things that have felt the best, the most
successful, the most right, in my
life, were the things I did with fundamental trust and yet no specific expectations.  Like giving birth. Like cooking for my son,
and raising him. Like writing this blog. Conversely, things I did
with high expectations and much hidden doubt, have often been epic failures. 

Live
and learn.

So speaking of having trust and no expectations, how about uniting banana
with goat cheese?

For this new installment of my Summer Goat Cheese Series in
collaboration with Vermont Creamery and the Kids & Kids Campaign, I decided
to give this unlikely combination a try, and I didn’t regret it. Vermont’s Cremont cheese, a mix of goat and cow’s milk, has the perfect texture for this. This dish could be an
appetizer, or a light lunch along with a salad, or served as a cheese/dessert
course. It’s sweet, and savory, and melts in your mouth, and makes you
want to lick the bowl 🙂 Pablo certainly did!

 If you’ve been following the Summer Goat Cheese Series, have you tried any of the goat cheese recipes with your children and family? How did they like it? Would love to hear your feedback!

And by the way, if you’re looking for more goat cheese inspiration, you should check out all the great blogger recipes here.

Wishing you a lovely, peaceful and flavorful weekend.

Banana Goat Cheese Cassolette

For 2 cassolettes

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 25 min

Age for babies: 8-10 months (this is very soft consistency, perfect for finger food)

2 bananas

2 thin slices of pancetta

1 shallot

2 sprigs of fresh tarragon (I think dill would work great too)

1-2 tbsp heavy cream

Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven at 400°F.

Slice the goat cheese cross-wise to obtain 2 thick slices. Mince the shallot. Take the leaves of tarragon off the stems and cisel it. Cut the bananas lengthwise, then into bite size pieces.

Take two oven safe ramekins or cassolettes. In each, sprinkle half the shallot, add the banana pieces, then a slice pancetta, then the slice of goat cheese on top. Add the fresh tarragon, drizzle the heavy cream on top, and add a dash of salt and fresh ground pepper.

Cook in the oven for about 25 minutes. 

Serve while hot.  Enjoy! (So Pablo could have his own individual serving, I transferred from the hot cassolette to a cold ramekin for him.)

Pasta with artichokes and goat cheese

After a week of guest posting, here I am back with you guys from this screen. It was fun posting from Sofie’s and Chef Dennis‘ pages: I loved working with them and I loved meeting new readers!

So now back on this screens I will present you with a simple recipe: pasta with artichokes and goat cheese.

I’ve realized I haven’t published a pasta recipe in a while. What am I thinking! I am Italian after all! I should be posting basically only pasta, shouldn’t I? No seriously, on this blog I seem to be living on little else than bread lately. It is true that I have cut down on meat quite a lot, but still I’m eating stuff with my bread. Some of it is some form of roasted veggie, some of it is legumes, some of it is meat and then of course there is the beloved pasta.

So here I give you a simple pasta recipe to start the week right.

Pasta with artichokes and goat cheese

Pasta with artichokes and goat cheese

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. linguine
  • 1 cup frozen artichokes hearts
  • 3 oz. prosciutto possibly in one piece
  • 2 tbsp. goat cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Fill a large pot with water and put it in the stove to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, dice the prosciutto and cook it in a pan with a bit of oil. The amount of oil depends on how lean the prosciutto is. If it is very fatty, you can do entirely without oil.
  3. When the prosciutto has rendered most of the fat, add the artichokes and a bit of water. Let them cook until completely thawed.
  4. At this point the water should have come to a boil. Salt it and cook the pasta al dente.
  5. Add the goat cheese to the artichokes and loosen it up with a bit of water from the pasta.
  6. Drain the cooked pasta and dress it with the goat cheese and artichokes sauce.
  7. Serve with hot with a sprinkle of grated pepper

Goat milk yogurt and thyme biscuits

Last week I made my first biscuits ever. It was easier that I imagined and they turned out way better that I expected.

I followed the recipe in Micheal Ruhlman’s Ratio. And his procedure. The recipe is more of a ratio thingy, but the procedure was what sold me.

It was a puff pastry kind of procedure, where you “turn” the dough to create the flaky layers of dough.

Goat milk yogurt and thyme biscuits

Ingredients

  • 9 oz. flour
  • 1.5 oz. butter
  • 4.5 oz. goat milk yogurt
  • 3 oz. milk
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients by cutting the butter into the flour. As soon as the dough is formed, form in a brick and place in the fridge until well chilled (about 1 hour). The dough should be speckled with butter clumps.
  2. Take the dough from the fridge and roll out in a long rectangle. Fold into thirds and place in the fridge to chill. Repeat the procedure 4-6 times. This will create the layers.
  3. Roll out the dough one final time and cut your biscuits. Bake at 400F for 20-30 minutes.