Cooking With Goat Cheese

This past Saturday, I spoke at the Took a Leap Farm Open House in Houlton, on the topic of Cooking With Goat Cheese. It was a wonderful day, filled with good food, excellent folk music, and sweetly bleating goat kids. Kathryn and Rob made wonderful hosts, and everyone who visited seemed very impressed by the quality of the cheese [excluding a humorous incident involving a young boy, a ‘funky’ blue cheese, and… “undeveloped” taste buds].

What follows is a visual account of my time at the farm, as well as the three recipes that I presented during the open house: Spinach-Arugula and Goat Feta Hummus, Smoked Salmon and Chèvre Rangoons, and Ginger Lemon Honey + Rhubarb Goat Cheese Cake.

Spinach-Arugula and Goat Feta Hummus

Makes enough for a small to medium-sized group appetizer

While unfortunately not pictured here, this is a delightfully fresh hummus that can be kicked up a notch by the addition of a few shakes of red pepper flakes.

You will need:

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 large handful spinach
1 small handful arugula
5 oz feta (1 block from Took a Leap Farm)
1/4 c. olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
1 garlic clove
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except red pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor, and process until combined. Add red pepper flakes in small increments, tasting between additions to test spice level.

Note: If you do not have a food processor, use a blender. If you do not have a blender, you may be able to get close to the correct consistency with a potato masher – but there will likely still be lumps.

Smoked Salmon and Chèvre Rangoons

Makes 25-30

A twist on the traditional Crab Rangoons of Chinese restaurants nationwide, this appetizer tastes excellent when drizzled with sweet chili sauce, and pairs nicely with fried rice.

Note: If lacking roasted red pepper chèvre, additional plain chèvre may be substituted.

You will need:

~6 oz plain chèvre (1 package from Took a Leap Farm)
~2 oz roasted red pepper chèvre (~1/3 a package from Took a Leap Farm)
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp soy sauce
Pepper
1 1/2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
Won ton wrappers
Oil for frying

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix goat cheeses, garlic, and sauces. Season to taste with pepper. Fold in chives.

Heat a cast iron skillet (or other heavy pot for deep frying), filled with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil, over medium heat until temperature reaches 360 – 375F. Once heated, reduce heat a notch to low medium. Oil is ready for frying when a small piece of won ton wrapper placed in the skillet bubbles and rises to the surface, or when water flicked onto the water sizzles heartily.

Make the rangoons:

In the center of a won ton wrapper, place 1 tsp of filling. Flatten with the back of a spoon, spreading into a half moon shape – but leave plenty of room around the edges.

Wet two edges with a small amount of water. Fold remaining edges over and press tightly to secure, making sure to contain all filling. When secured, very gently flatten filling so that it is spread out evenly within the rangoon.

Repeat with remaining won ton wrappers.

Fry the rangoons:

Place rangoons, 6-8 at a time, in the hot oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip, and cook for an additional minute. Remove with a slotted utensil (to help drain the oil), and let cool on a plate covered with a paper towel.

Fry remaining rangoons, and serve while warm.

Ginger Lemon Honey + Rhubarb Goat Cheese Cake

Makes one cheesecake

Note: If you don’t have ginger lemon honey chèvre, substitute with plain chèvre, 2 tbsp candied ginger pieces, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 3 tbsp honey, and an additional 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice.

You will need:

250 g (8-11) ginger snaps (homemade recipe follows)
4 tbsp butter
6 oz ginger lemon honey chèvre (1 package from Took a Leap Farm)
6 oz plain chèvre (1 package from Took a Leap Farm)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Zest of one lemon + 1 tsp juice
Additional ginger, honey, lemon if needed to boost flavor
3 eggs
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 c. stewed rhubarb (recipe follows)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 10″ springform pan: butter bottom and sides, place a fitted circle of parchment paper inside the pan, and butter that as well.

In a food processor (or by hand with a good mashing tool), blend cookies and butter until combined. Press cookie mixture into the bottom of the tin. Chill in fridge or freezer.

In a food processor with a clean bowl (or by hand with a good mixing tool), blend chèvre, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon zest and juice until combined. Taste, and add additional flavoring if needed – heed on the side of flavorful. Add eggs and salt, and pulse to combine.

Spread stewed rhubarb onto chilled crust. Pour cheese mixture into the pan. Set on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour, or until sides are lightly browned and center is firm. Chill in fridge for one hour minimum.

Note: Many cheesecakes are best when allowed to chill overnight. This is not one of those cheesecakes! This cake is best when eaten the day it is made, but can be well-wrapped and eaten for one to two days afterward if necessary: it “keeps,” but grows soggy with time.

Maple Ginger Snaps {Adapted from Joy of Cooking}

Makes ~20 cookies

Note: I altered the original recipe’s 1/4 c. molasses for 1/8 c. each of corn syrup and maple syrup – simply because I was out of molasses at the time. Feel free to use either/or.

You will need:

6 tbsp butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/8 c. maple syrup
1/8 c. corn syrup
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
Scant 2 c. flour (remove 1 tbsp)
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice (original recipe calls for cloves)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Mix all ingredients until combined. Form into 1″ balls, place 2″ apart on a greased baking sheet (I used a baking stone).

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cookie is light brown and has a crackled surface. Remove from oven, and cool. Store in an airtight container.

Stewed Rhubarb

Makes ~2 cups

You will need:

5-6 stalks rhubarb
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp water
Zest of 1/2 a lemon

Directions:

Cook in a saucepan over low heat for 20 – 40 minutes, or until rhubarb has broken down into a homogenous mixture. Cool. Store in an airtight container.

Took a Leap Farm

243 B Rd
Houlton, Maine

From Route 1, on the north side of Houlton, turn west onto B Rd (opposite the York’s of Houlton car dealership).  Took a Leap Farm is 1.1 miles on the right – you will see a gray Cape house nestled amongst a grove of trees, with a barn in the back. If you come to the intersection with McSheffery Rd, you’ve gone too far.