Cheesepalooza #2: Chevre
On my quest to invent my own cheese I am taking the Cheesepalooza challenge, teaching myself to make cheese one step at a time, with my Mary Karlin book under one arm and my internet buddies at the end of the other. This months recipe was a lesson in patience. The chosen recipe was Chevre but not the cheats way I have tried before (adding lemon juice to goats milk) but doing it properly, the Mary Karlin way.
This recipe involves a starter culture (I used Flora Danica and some rennet as I can’t get the one listed in the book) being added to the goats milk then leaving it to ripen and form the curds over a long period of time. I didn’t opt for this recipe on a previous occasion because I wanted more instant gratification but if you do have the time to spare the results are far superior doing it this way.
My curds were more delicate than the book implied they should have been but with careful handling I managed to ladle them into the butter muslin to drain. The result was a delicious, smooth, spreadable goats cheese and a definite improvement on the grainy goats cheese I made before.
The chevre remained quite delicate even after draining but I just managed to shape some of it into a log and coat with cracked black pepper corns. It was also great served with peas and pear on crostini. I even turned some into a dip with some pea puree, mint and lemon juice, much to the amusement of my work colleagues (they are not cooks).
Thanks to my friend Bill for his photography help for this post. He doesn’t usually photograph food but the things he does photograph are generally awesome. Some of his work can be seen here.
150g Frozen Peas
15g spring onions, sliced
5g mint leaves, finely chopped
75g pears, peeled and finely chopped
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
50g goats cheese
Start by defrosting the peas. I do this by putting them in a small bowl and covering them with boiling water. Leave to stand for about a minute or two then drain. Place 100g of the peas into a mini food processor or the beaker of a stick blender and blend to a rough puree.
Transfer the pea puree to a bowl and combine with the rest of the whole peas, the mint, spring onions and the peeled and chopped pear. Mix well, so all the bits are evenly distributed then add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. The goats cheese is quite tart so I didn’t put too much lemon juice in but if you like a zingy taste add more. Also season with salt and pepper taste. Set aside while you make the crostini.
Slice the bread, on an angle, into 1 centimeter thick slices. I made about ten. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and grill on medium high for a couple of minutes each side until brown but not burnt. The exact cooking times will vary depending on your grill so don’t walk away like I often do or you’ll end up with burnt bread.
To serve, top each crostini with a heaped tablespoon of the pea mixture then dot with some chevre. A great spring lunch.
- Appearance: White, smooth but chalky looking
- Nose (aroma): Acidic
- Overall Taste: Typical goat taste
- Sweet to Salty: Savoury, mildly salty
- Strength: Medium, but not great if you don’t like goat’s cheese
- Mouth Feel: smooth with that typical goat feel