goat’s cheese

Goats cheese, parmesan, leek and thyme tart

I first made this tart (or quiche, though I have noticed that men don’t like eating quiches, though they don’t mind tarts!) for a ‘plein air’ day at my landscape painting class. It was a huge success, and I had to print out twelve copies of the recipe. It appears below exactly as I typed it. The cheese references are for the people who hadn’t a clue what goat’s cheese was and firmly believed that Parmesan was smelly grated cheese that came in a green shaker!

1 x savoury shortcrust pastry base, frozen then baked blind in a 25cm diameter x 3.5cm deep flan tin with a removable base or a pate brisee base.

Filling:
6 medium sized leeks, well washed and finely sliced (white part only)
A little butter
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 round goats’ cheese (125g) *
150g good Parmesan cheese, grated **
A good handful of fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
6 – 7 eggs
1 ½ cups (375ml) pouring cream
A little freshly grated nutmeg
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy-based frying pan until the butter sizzles. Reduce heat and add the finely sliced leeks. Stir so that they don’t catch and continue to cook until leeks are transparent and tender. Remove from heat and place in a colander or sieve to drain well.

Preheat the oven to 200C, or a little hotter.

Sprinkle about one third of the Parmesan cheese evenly onto the tart base, then add the leeks, making sure they cover the base, right to the edges. Add some of the thyme leaves.

Slice or crumble (depending its consistency  – see note below) the goats’ cheese and distribute it evenly, then top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and the remaining thyme.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Break 6 of the eggs into a bowl and beat until an even consistency. Add a scant 1¼

cups of cream and beat together lightly. (Hold the remaining egg and cream until you know if you need them.) Add a little freshly grated nutmeg, then pour the mixture carefully into the tart, taking care not to overfill. If you don’t have enough egg/cream mixture, beat together the remaining egg and cream and add.

Place the tart tin onto a baking tray. (This will make it easier to remove without accidentally pushing the base of the tin up and so breaking the hot tart. It will also prevent any of the egg and cream mixture that might leak from ending up on the floor of your oven.)

Bake at 200C for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the top is a nice golden colour or the quiche is set.

Goat’s cheese and hazelnut souffle

This is a really delicious recipe of Philip Johnson’s. It is also the one on which I came to grief one night when the mixture ‘split’ just as I was about to add the egg whites. The flour I should have been using was baker’s flour, or strong flour, which has a higher gluten (protein) content than the plain flour available on supermarket shelves. It is also the flour that many professional cooks use as a matter of course, so that when they say ‘plain flour’, they really mean baker’s flour.   

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup polenta
50g unsalted butter
50g strong or baker’s flour
300ml cream
300ml milk
4 sprigs thyme, leaves chopped
Pinch nutmeg, freshly grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 egg yolks
225g mature goat’s cheese, melted
6 egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar (unless using a copper bowl for egg whites)
½ cup (50g) hazelnuts, roasted and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 220C, on static, not fan-forced setting.  Brush six 180ml capacity ceramic soufflé dishes with the melted butter and coat with polenta, shaking out the excess.

Melt the 50g butter in a heavy-based pan over moderate heat, then stir in flour. Cook and stir until mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan, then remove from heat. Gradually whisk in cream, then milk until smooth.

Bring mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Cook for a further 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and season with thyme, nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste.

Whisk egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar, unless you are using a copper bowl, in which case, omit the cream of tartar. Whites should be able to hold a peak without sagging. Using a metal spoon, fold one cup of the whites into soufflé mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remainder.

Divide mixture among soufflé dishes and scatter the tops with hazelnuts. Place dishes on an oven tray and bake until souffles are well risen and golden, about 15 – 20 minutes.

Serve immediately with a green salad. The pear and walnut salad included with the Goat’s Cheese Tart recipe in this section would be perfect.