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Weekend Work(shop)

May 24th, 2010
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Workshop participant Lynne Holland's gorgeous and great tasting chévre

Workshop participant Lynne Holland's gorgeous and great tasting chévre

For the second weekend in a row, our farm has been blessed by great weather and extra hands on deck–it’s amazing what we can accomplish with just one extra grown-up! My mom is visiting and Karl stayed home on Friday, and in three packed days we’ve trimmed the goats’ hooves, planted hundreds of seeds and seedlings, begun cutting wood for winter (!), and gotten a good start on a birch arbor for the grapes we planted last year. All this, and s’mores at the fire pit, too!

On Saturday, we took a break from the farm work to lead a workshop on basic cheesemaking. It was a full class with great energy, and we had fun squeezing around the stove to heat the curd, bottle feeding the baby goats, and capping things off with a tasting of domestically produced artisanal goat cheeses and a bottle of prosecco. Most exciting was tasting each others chévre creations–people were fearless in their flavor combinations and the results were fantastic! Lemon zest, honey, pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika, fresh rosemary, cracked pepper, smoked sea salt and lavender never tasted so good (though not all together, thank goodness!). We’ve finally set our schedule for this year’s summer workshops and we can’t wait for the next class!

Getting a feel for the curd

Getting a feel for the curd

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A Valentine’s Feast

February 15th, 2010
Four courses of chévre

Four courses of chévre

We had a small but enthusiastic class at the farm on Saturday for our Cooking with Chévre workshop. After making a batch of chévre (drained in heart-shaped molds, naturally), we used the fresh cheese in three dishes: Polenta Cakes with Chévre and Roasted Peppers; Homemade Pasta With Chévre, Walnuts, Black Grapes and Rosemary; and Lemon Chévre Tartlets. I’ve included the recipes below–accompanied by a green salad, they make quite a feast. And since they’re all garlic-free, after dinner smooching will be even more fun!

Polenta Cakes with Chévre and Roasted Peppers
Adapted from At Home With Magnolia, by Allysa Torey

Makes 4-6 servings (about 10 cakes)

Polenta:
2 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fine cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6-8 tablespoons olive oil

Topping:
6 ounces fresh chévre
roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips

To make the polenta: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine milk and water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the corn and salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until the mixture is very thick, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.

Spread the soft polenta evenly into a buttered baking sheet—it should be about 1/2 an inch thick, and will not cover the entire sheet. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When completely chilled, cut the polenta into 2 inch circles (or hearts), using a biscuit or cookie cutter. Place the polenta cakes on a second baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and, working in batches, cook polenta cakes until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Drain briefly on paper towels (be careful–they’ll stick if you leave them too long), move to a platter, and tent with foil to keep warm. Top each cake with a dollop of chévre and a strip of red pepper and serve immediately.

Homemade Pasta with Chévre, Walnuts, Black Grapes and Rosemary

Makes 4 servings
One batch of homemade noodles (enough to serve four)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces of fresh chévre, firm enough to crumble
1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup black grapes, cut into quarters
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped, plus a few sprigs for serving
1 tablespoon flat-leafed parsley, chopped
drizzle of raw honey for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add noodles, stirring briefly so they don’t stick together. While noodles are cooking, melt butter in another large pot (large enough to hold all the ingredients). Add grapes and stir until slightly softened. When noodles are cooked to desired doneness, drain and toss with butter and grapes. Crumble chévre over pasta, add walnuts and herbs, and toss to combine. Serve warm or room temperature, topped with a light drizzle of honey and a few sprigs of rosemary.

Lemon Chévre Tartlets

Makes about 20 tartlets

1 recipe (enough for a double crust 9-inch pie) pâte brisée, or your favorite pie crust, chilled

2 eggs
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh chévre

Preheat oven to 375. Press chilled dough into small tartlet pans and partially bake, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat eggs until they’re foamy and lemon colored. Gradually add the sugar, by tablespoonfuls. Beat in the flour, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add fresh chévre and beat until mixture is thoroughly combined.

Spoon filling into tartlet shells an bake for 12-15 minutes, until the centers are set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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