I have never met a goat cheese I didn’t like! Who can resist the rich layered cake-like wonder that is Humboldt Fog, a perfect French crottin or the red wine-soaked Drunken Goat? I’ll never forget my first taste of chèvre. It was a young crottin, covered in chopped walnuts and then toasted so that the cheese was warmed through. It garnished a green salad at lunch years ago at the Château de Chenonceaux in the Loire Valley. The setting: perfect, the chèvre: a revelation!
But I had never tasted fresh raw goat’s milk until recently. It is marvelous! While preparing for a dinner for our wine group, I visited Blue Heron Farm in Field Store Community near Waller, Texas. Owners and artisans Lisa and Christian Seger were our special guests and provided their highly regarded chèvres for several items on the menu. Expecting a gaminess beyond what my cow’s milk-trained palate could savor, I poured some over my granola for breakfast and was blown away by the mild sweetness and ever so subtle tang (which becomes more prominent when the milk is transformed into chèvre). It was a delicious treat I enjoyed all week. .
SPOILED GOATS, FRESH CHEESE exclaims the banner at the entrance to the Seger’s ten-acre property. Forgoing quantity for quality, they have chosen the sweet-natured, long-eared Nubian goats that produce milk that is high in butterfat and mild in flavor. It’s kidding season, and after meeting the adorable babies and their curious mamas, I left with a variety of creamy chèvres, cajeta (caramel) for dessert, and two quarts of freshly harvested goat’s milk. The milk that I didn’t consume with breakfast I used to make a lovely Vanilla bean ice cream (recipe below).
If you live in the Houston area you can find the Seger’s chèvre at several outdoor markets. I suggest you reserve your portion…they are always the first to sell out! You can also arrange for a tour and tasting at the farm.
Our dessert was warm individual Apple galettes made by our friend Helen. Vanilla bean goat’s milk ice cream and Blue Heron Farm cajeta were the perfect accompaniments. If you have never tasted cajeta from Blue Heron Farm, I urge to do so! It’s always fresh, all natural and contains no fillers. It’s the perfect pouring consistency and I admit that I’m addicted to it!
Vanilla bean goat’s milk ice cream
Makes 1 1/2 quarts
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 pinches of salt
4 cups fresh raw goat’s milk (No guarantee that it will be good with commercially produced goat’s milk)
½ vanilla bean pod
Bring a little water (about ½”) to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt in the top bowl of a double boiler. Place on top of simmering water. Slowly add goat’s milk, whisking continuously until the mixture is hot and thickens a little, about 20 minutes.
On a cutting board, split the vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise with a pointed knife. With the sharp tip of the knife, scrape the vanilla seeds (caviar) out and add the bean pod and seeds to the milk mixture.
Beat eggs in a separate bowl until the yolks and whites are combined. Ladle about ½ cup of the hot milk into the eggs and whisk together quickly to prevent them from curdling. Add the eggs to the rest of the milk mixture and cook over the simmering water for an additional 5 minutes, but make sure that it doesn’t boil.
Cool milk custard in an ice water bath, stirring every few minutes. Chill overnight in the refrigerator.
Strain the chilled custard through a sieve and discard the vanilla bean. Freeze the custard by following the directions to your ice cream maker.
Adapted from Susan Spungen’s Almond Berry Tart from More magazine. Makes 8 galettes.
½ cup sliced or slivered almonds
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup ice water
4 cups thinly sliced peeled, cored and quartered apples
½ lemon, juiced or 2 tablespoons
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For the top
Coarse ‘crystal’ sugar or Turbinado sugar
To make the crust, combine the almonds, flour, salt and sugar in food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until the pieces are the size of peas. With the machine running, quickly add the water. Stop the machine just when the dough begins to come together. Remove the dough and knead once or twice. Shape into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or a silpat.
In a medium bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Set aside.
On a well-floured surface, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece with a rolling pin until it measures about 6 – 7 inches. Pile sliced apples evenly on each piece of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the border over the filling, leaving some of the apples exposed. Brush the dough gently with cold water and then sprinkle with crystal sugar and sliced almonds.
Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 30 - 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving with goat’s milk ice cream and cajeta.