March 1, 2011
Cooking w/ Goat Cheese
My friend, who is a goat farmer from Kyoto, came up to Tokyo a couple weeks back to attend a cheese convention. He was kind enough to share some awesome goat cheese with me, which he had brought as samples for the convention. Yagi-san (as we call him, trans: Mr. Goat) makes these cheeses himself and is the goats' official caretaker at the Ruri-kei farms. Contrary to popular belief, quality & fresh goat cheese is not that gamey or stinky. It does have that slight tangy-aftertaste, but is not overwhelming at all (in my opinion). People seem to be turned off almost immediately just by seeing the word "goat" next to anything edible, and I have to admit that I had that bias for some reason growing up as well, even though I had never even tried goat cheese as a kid. I think especially in America, we grow up being brainwashed that anything cheese related should be akin to Kraft "American" cheese.
The fromage frais w/ blueberry jam on a bagel.
I was able to taste these cheeses when I visited the goat farm last year (pictures), and immediately wanted to cook with them because it was some of the best tasting goat cheese I've ever tasted. So I was overjoyed that I had the opportunity to do so this time around.
GOAT CHEESE PASTA
First thing I made was a spaghetti pancetta arrabbiata w/ goat cheese.
The rich texture of the chèvre fermier was screaming something spicy/salty, so I decided to cube & crisp up this pancetta that I had sitting in the frig.
I then cheated and added a premade can of arrabbiata sauce along with some spices, a splash of red wine and a nice hefty squeeze of sriracha. Once some of the liquid evaporated, I threw in some chunks of the chèvre fermier and tossed it around gently as to not break up the cheese too much.
Finally threw in my nice and al dente pasta I had cooking on the side, toss it gently just to mix and it's done!
GOAT CHEESE CHEESECAKE
I still had a lot leftover, and did not want them to go bad, so I decided to make a goat cheese cheesecake with the remaining product. I usually don't like to bake because you actually need to measure things, but I felt this cheese would really make an awesome cheesecake, so made an exception this time. I changed some stuff around, but this is the recipe that I came up with after comparing a few:
~6 graham crackers (had to use a similar cookie, hard to find in Japan)
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 stick of cream cheese
equivalent amount of the chèvre fermier
2Tbsp of the fromage frais
1/2 cup sugar (I used unrefined)
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
Start off by making the crust first. You can use a food processor but don't make the crumbs too fine. Melt the butter.
Combine thoroughly and press into the bottom of the bake dish. Once complete wrap in plastic and throw in the frig to harden.
Throw all the cheeses into the bowl and mix with the sugar. This is where a mixer would come in handy, I do not have one. Make sure the cheese mix is a smooth.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. At this point it will be semi-watery. Then pour the filling into the crust.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and bake for about 45 minutes. Monitor frequently, you don't want it to rise too fast or else you're going to get cracks (like mine). I don't have a real oven here as well, so had to use the microwave with it's built in semi-convection oven feature. I couldn't fine tune the temp so I think I slightly over-baked.
And done! As you can see it's quite cracked like grand canyon, but it tasted pretty damn good.
Surprisingly I found some good blueberries at the market, so I decided to make a sauce with that. I forgot to document this, but I cooked one pack of blueberries in some butter, added some sliced lemon rinds, then simmered in a splash of red wine, about a Tbsp of unrefined sugar and a dollop of honey. I let the sauce cool once, let the blueberry juices ooze out a bit, then simmered one more time to thicken.
Served this with some Hokkaido vanilla ice cream. My grandma said this was the best dessert she'd ever tasted, made me laugh. haha.
I love goat cheese.