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I am desperate to finish telling you about our lovely June trip to the Dordogne, it’s just finding the time amongst everything else in life. As you may have seen, I also like to share details rather than just lots of pictures – just in case you are here viewing this post because you too are planning a trip to the Dordogne and want some tips from someone who’s been and explored.
Last time I left off we had just been to the Sarlat market and passed through La Roque Gageac. After this we headed along the river to Beynac, which we much preferred and found a lovely little restaurant for a very relaxed lunch. This place is just so pretty, the sand coloured stone buildings, the flowers and vines that sprout from tiny patches of soil – it is storybook lovely.
There is something that always pulls me back to France, something inside that about once a month I get an aching inside to be back there – usually this has been the Loire (where we’ve visited twice, you can read about it here and here) but this time we wanted to see a different part.
So after many hours searching for somewhere to stay, we booked ourselves a week to Le Pigeonnier a small hamlet on an organic goat farm at La Geyrie in the Dorgone.
We flew to Limoges before driving down through the Limousin-Périgord National Park to the small hamlet of La Geyrie. As we pulled up we were welcomed by a small rabble of dogs – two belonging to Louise and Peter our hosts and another from the house down the road, a sweet little dog who would come to welcome us home most days by running in front of the car (!) and then bouncing at the window whilst making an excited whining.
Ok, so I’m trying really hard to get our French trip written up, but there’s so much I want to share that I’m still working on it when I have the time. It will come, I promise. With it very damp and grey outside (and on Midsummer!) I wanted to share our cheerful, warm, sunny evening meal last night which we made and ate on our allotment.
This is by far my favourite thing to do at the moment – cook and eat at the allotment. I wish moments like that would never end. We wanted to recreate a meal we made in France, which was broad beans and beans tossed with crispy ham and loaded onto slithers of fresh bread.
I adore the repetitive but satisfying business of podding peas and broad beans – some might find it mind numbingly boring, but I love it. After they’d all been podded, we blanched them in a pan of boiling water over the camping stove and then quickly cooled them down was cold water. Next I spent ages more slipping the broad beans out of their silvery green coats.
For someone who loves his meat, I love that one of Mr Rigg’s favourite meals is mushroom burgers.
This week we decided to make a summery version, with a little mayonnaise smeared on the sliced buns, the mushrooms grilled with a garlicky butter, then filled with blobs of soft goat’s cheese and a sprinkling of chives. Finally they were topped with a handful of salad, including tiny nasturtium leaves.
Earlier in January was my mommy’s birthday. N and I packed our car and headed down for the weekend to celebrate her birthday with her and my family.
While my dad took her off to London for the day the little sister and me got to work preparing a delicious birthday banquet for dinner. For the main course we decided to do a selection of mezze style dishes with some middle eastern flavours.
There was a crushed carrot and goat’s cheese salad (similar to this one) but prepared everso slightly differently.
Toss a bunch of washed carrots that have been cut into lengths in some olive oil and bung in a pre-heated oven at 180°C – roast for about 40-50 minutes until soft and golden.
Allow them to cool slightly then mash. Stir through a couple of teaspoons of ground cumin and season lightly. Spread the crushed carrots over a plate, crumble over some goat’s cheese, and sprinkle with finely sliced mint.
Taken and slightly adapted from the Riverford Farm Cook Book by Guy Watson & Jane Baxter – one of my favourite recipe books especially for lovely veggie dishes.
An earthy roasted beetroot, red onion, lentil and feta salad.
In a bowl mix 2 tbsp soft brown sugar and 2 tbsp red wine vinegar. Add to this 1 medium red onion that has been finely sliced. Leave the onion to ‘pickle’ in the vinegar mixture for about an hour.
Roast about 500g beetroot that have been scrubbed and trimmed in 5mm of water covered in foil at 200°C for about 45 minutes or until tender.
Cook the Puy lentils and allow to cool until just warm: Place 100g Puy lentils in a pan with 2 peeled garlic cloves and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, turn turn and simmer for about 30 minutes until tender – top up the water if necessary. Drain.
In a bowl mix together the lentils, onion mixture and any remaining liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Peel the beetroot, cut into wedges and mix into the lentils. Stir through some chopped mint and crumble over some feta cheese.
Another delicious recipe from the Riverford Farm Cook Book by Guy Watson & Jane Baxter.
A coriander and mint hummous (inspired by A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell).
I wanted to try a different take on hummous, so used Sky Gyngell’s recipe for chickpea purée to inspire me. I can’t remember the exact amounts of ingredients as it was ‘taste and see’. Into a blender tip a can of drained chickpeas, 2 garlic cloves, some fresh red chilli (seeds removed), a good bunch of coriander and another of mint, lemon juice (add more to taste), a tablespoon or two of Greek yoghurt, a sprinkle of ground cumin and coriander, salt and pepper, and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Blend it all up into a rough purée. Keep tasting and adjusting the flavours until it’s how you like. I made it quite lemony, much to the horror of the little sister, but I promised her by dinner time the flavours would mellow and she would love it – they did and she loved it.
A platter of pan-fried ‘hint of spice’ chicken.
Take some chicken thighs on the bone. Place in a dish with a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Mix the chicken thighs in the flavours well and pop in the fridge for an hour or so. When you’re ready to eat, pan-fry the chicken until cooked through.
And a bowl of mixed olives - some with Moroccan flavoured and the others were called ‘Mojito Olives’ – spiked with lime and mint.
As a child courgettes were one of the vegetables I loathed. I remember them cut in thick slices and cooked until slightly soft and mushy. They were gross.
Now I have a much better relationship with courgettes, I have found ways in which to eat and cook them which have made me fall in love with them. Courgettes are starting to ripen and I picked up a couple from Little Heath Farm that had been grown by a local lady with a large garden. There was a perfectly formed round yellow courgette which I couldn’t resist, and chose a couple of green ones as well. With some delicious French chevre cheese in the fridge along with a pack of Parma ham, a simple egg dinner was dreamt up – a frittata (fantastic as a store cupboard meal for those evenings when you can’t think what else to cook) with courgette, goat’s cheese and shreds of salty ham.
I’ve got another lovely courgette dish that I’ll post soon – semi-dried courgette and chilli pasta.
Here’s how to make it…
Soften half an onion in a little butter and oil. Next, grate up your courgettes and pop them into the pan.
There’s quite a bit of water in the courgettes, so let it cook out and then continue to saute the courgette until all the liquid has disappeared – a beautiful smell will start to waft up and fill your nostrils. Then you know it’s ready.
Whisk up a couple of eggs (I used four for two of us) and season well with ground pepper and salt…
Pour the beaten eggs into the pan with the courgette and onion mixture. Crumble over the goat’s cheese…
Finally shred over the Parma ham and bung in the oven for about 15 minutes until cooked.
I find the frittata is best left for 10-15 minutes before eating, more of the flavours come through than when it’s piping hot.
Now here’s the recipe for anyone who fancies making it for themselves.
Courgette, goat’s cheese and Parma ham frittata
Feeds two hungry people
1/2 onion, diced
2 courgettes (1 green, 1 yellow)
1/2 slice of goat’s cheese
a couple of slices of Parma ham, torn into pieces
*Please note, ideally you need a pan with a metal handle that can go into the oven – if you don’t, you will need to pop it under the grill rather than in the oven.
Preheat the oven to about 200°C.
In a pan, heat a little butter and olive oil and saute the chopped onion until soft.
Grate the courgettes and add to the softened onion. Cook the courgettes – water will come out of them, so just keep cooking them gently until it all disappears and it starts to smell nice.
Beat the egg and season well with salt and pepper. Tip the egg into the pan with the courgettes and onion and keep on a medium heat while you crumble over the goat’s cheese and add the torn Parma ham.
Turn off the heat and bung the pan into the oven for about 15 minutes until nicely golden on top and cooked through.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little (about 10-15 minutes). Cut into wedges and serve on its own or with a garden fresh green salad.
The second in my series of simple summer salads, a delicious plate of young beetroot with a delicate tasting goat’s cheese crumbled over the top. For dishes with so few ingredients it’s essential to choose high quality produce with fantastic flavour.
These smallish beetroot are around in my local grocers and farm shops, and are about the size of plums. The goat’s cheese I used, and would recommend if you can get hold of it is called Picandou and is from the Périgord region of France. It is a fresh soft goat’s cheese with a smooth creamy texture. I bought mine from the Barbakan in Manchester.
I have made this salad twice in the past couple of weeks. The first time, when the photos were taken, I accompanied the beetroot and goat’s cheese with some roasted Cheshire new potatoes (I parboiled these first, and tossed them in olive oil and a little salt and pepper before roasting) and some salad leaves – this served as our evening meal. The second time, when my parents visited me for the day, I served the beetroot and goat’s cheese on it’s own, with only a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of marjoram leaves from the garden – this accompanied a smoked trout and dill tart that I’d made (more on that another day).
So the recipe is as follows…
Beetroot and goat’s cheese salad
Serves 4 as part of a meal
approx. 8 medium beetroot (use two per person)
3-4 small Picandou goat’s cheese (or if using other goat’s cheese, about a tablespoon per person)
extra virgin olive oil
marjoram or thyme leaves (or whatever you fancy from the garden)
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Remove the tops from the beetroot – leave about an inch of stalk and don’t cut of the rooty ‘tail’ – otherwise the beetroot will bleed. Scrub well in water.
Take a roasting dish, fill it with about 5mm water then place the beetroot into the dish. Cover with foil and pop in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the beetroot is tender. (Don’t be tempted to remove the foil…I did the first time and the beetroot dried out and didn’t look very pretty!)
This dish is best at room temperature, so let the beetroot cool. Once cooled, remove the stalky bit and the ‘tail’ – you can also remove the skin if you want, but this is messy and if you’ve scrubbed them well I don’t see any issue with eating it. Cut the beetroot into quarters, or more if the beetroot is larger.
Arrange the beetroot on a nice platter, and crumble the goat’s cheese over the top. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, a little black pepper and some marjoram leaves to finish it off.
*Also great served with rosted new potatoes and some green leaves*