CHEFFED-UP

Totes Maaa Goats CHEESE

Extolling the virtues of the dreamy fromage

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I’ve been thinking a lot about goat cheese lately. In fact, more than a lot, and you know why: I love it! Of course, I feel that way about many foods, yet my passion for certain foods comes and goes depending on my moods, kinda like most of y’all feel about your girlfriends or boyfriends. What spurs these floods of passion I really can’t say. All I know is, when these feelings surface, I’ve learned to just go with them, because they ultimately fill my soul, as well as my stomach, with joy.

So this week the passion is for goat cheese. Oh, goat cheese, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. That’s right, I’m dropping some Elizabeth Barrett Browning on you; impressed?

Well, the number of ways could easily go into the hundreds, but I’ll give you an abridged version. No. 1: I love thee for thy funky, barnyard depth of flavor. It’s this earthy, umami-type taste that sets goat’s milk cheeses apart from cow’s milk cheeses. Whether the cheese is fresh or aged, the pungent goatieness always shines pleasantly through. No. 2: I love thee for thy inherent creamy whiteness. Even in a well-aged version, there’s always an intoxicating creamy core. No. 3: I love thee for thy versatility. Similar to cow’s milk cheeses, the variety of styles produced throughout the world is simply staggering. Yet no matter which style you sample, there’s never any doubt that the pronounced flavor originates with a goat. YUM! No. 4: I love thee for thy ability to enhance other foods’ flavor characteristics. And to tell you the truth, this ability works as well with vegetables as it does with proteins, except tofu. Sorry, tofu. Reason No. 5: I love thee for thy price point. Goat’s milk cheeses tend to be quite reasonably priced compared to many other fine cheeses.

The most obvious use for goat cheese is in a cheese display, where several types (including the creamy white fresh style or maybe a flavored one like Purple Haze, possibly the herby Psydillic or–my absolute favorite–Humbolt Fog from Cypress Groves in California. All good choices, yet I find that my favorite way to enjoy goat cheese is to cook with it. The trick? Take advantage of the smooth texture and highlight the mysterious depth of flavor the cheese provides. An awesome example of this concept appears when you pair goat cheese with mushrooms. What a revelation. The creamy funkiness of the cheese complements the earthiness of the fungus so well. It’s like a dream. Yes, an earthy, funky dream! What could be better? Not a lot. Enjoy trying this humble little recipe; I think you’ll wind up with a funky little smile on your face.
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MUSHROOM & GOATS CHEESE STRUDEL
Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup shallots, sliced
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Pound cremini or domestic mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 Oz. sherry vinegar
  • 2 Oz. sherry
  • 2 Tbs. chopped herbs
  • 3 Phyllo sheets
  • 1/2 Cup goat cheese
  • Melted butter as needed for brushing phyllo sheets
  • Salt & pepper to taste.

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil to medium high, add mushrooms and sauté until they begin to brown.
  2. Add shallots and garlic, continue to sauté for a couple minutes. When the mushrooms begin to release their liquid, add the sherry and vinegar. Allow liquid to reduce. Season with S&P.
  3. When pan is nearly dry, remove from heat, add the herbs and cool.
  4. Lie the first phyllo sheet flat, lightly brush with butter, and lie the second on top and brush. Lie the third on top.
  5. Sprinkle the goat cheese on the phyllo, then the cooled mushroom mixture.
  6. Roll the phyllo onto a cylinder and brush with butter.
  7. Bake at 375° for about 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is nicely browned.

Until we cook again,
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Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of The Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at cheffedup@folioweekly.com to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!

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