Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.
Kosher cheese has never been so available or so artesian. However, I have never, ever been a fan of strong tasting cheeses. My friend Arlene and my son Avi, however, are big fans and say, “Blue cheese forever!” and, “Bring on the Chevre (goat cheese)!”
In fact, my 24-year-old teases me with phrases like: “It’s sooo yummy Mommy – here try some!” as he’s trying to force-feed me a fork full. He also occasionally throws in my personal favorite: “I like goat cheese because I can taste their stubbornness.”
All this from the man who thinks mac ‘n cheese is gourmet if I use two kinds of cheese instead of one.
So after his last round of finger-licking, lip-smacking, in-my-face snacking, he asked me what the difference between feta cheese and goat cheese was. He’d heard me refer to the feta I was using as a goat cheese “in disguise.” I explained that while feta is primarily made from sheep’s milk, it actually contains goat’s milk as well. According to the laws, rules and regulations pertaining to content, “feta cheese” can contain no more than 30% goat’s milk and must contain at least 70% sheep’s milk.
His eyes glazed over about three words into my explanation. TMI for him, great column for my readers. So about goat cheese…
The best way to store your goat cheese is to keep it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or in a zip-style bag in your refrigerator. Goat cheeses can have a flavor or taste ranging from “oh-my-goodness” strong and sharp and crumbly to light, mild and smooth.
You can buy goat cheeses in a bunch of shapes (cone, disc, wheel, log and the ever popular hockey puck shape). It’s sold fresh, aged or marinated in olive oil or wine as well as coated in herb, spices and – my son’s personal favorite – cracked pepper.
Cooking with goat cheese is pretty much the same as with other cheese. When you heat goat cheese, it softens, but doesn’t melt the way cow milk cheeses do. If fact, if it has a rind on it, you can treat it much like you do a good brie and spread it on crackers or bread with roasted garlic, fruit preserves or grilled onions.
Goat is also good for you is when it comes to calories and cholesterol. Compared to regular cream cheese, goat cheese is higher in calcium and lower in fat, calories and cholesterol.
Like I said – I’m not a huge fan of goat cheese. But several of my readers are, and they sent in a few of the following recipes swearing that even I (who won’t touch the stuff except to serve it) would love them. Let me know what you think.
2 cups mashed potatoes, hot or cold
1/2 cup chevre (goat cheese)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
about 1 pound fresh poblano chilies (also called pasillas; 6-8 equal size ones), rinsed
1 cup salsa
1. Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, use a fork or mixer to blend potatoes, chevre, 1/4 cup chilies, onion and salt to taste.
2. Wearing rubber gloves, cut poblanos in half lengthways. With a knife, cut the membranes and seed from the inside each poblano chili, leaving stem end in place (to form a cup). Fill the chilies equally with potato mixture.
3. Set chilies in an oiled 9X13 casserole, filling it. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup diced chilies, and bake until stuffing is golden brown, about 20 minutes longer. Serve with salsa.
Modified from a Barbara Schack recipe published in Sunset Magazine.
PENNE PASTA AND VEGETABLES WITH GOAT CHEESE AND SPINACH SAUCE (dairy)
1 lb penne pasta, cooked, drained, cooled and tossed with a little oil
8 oven-roasted baby artichokes, or small can artichoke hearts, drained very well
2 roasted bell peppers, peeled and thickly sliced
12 oz mushrooms, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 minced shallots
1 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups white wine
1 cup cream or half & half
6 ounces goat cheese
1/2 bunch spinach cleaned, roots off
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and/or parsley
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
salt and pepper
1. Put pot of water on to boil. Heat olive oil in pan; add artichokes, pepper, mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Simmer 2 minutes. Add wine and reduce by half. Add cream and simmer until warm throughout.
2. Add chevre, stirring with wooden spoon. Lower cooked pasta and raw spinach into boiling water (only 10 seconds) and quickly drain. Toss gently with cream sauce, divide into 4 bowls and garnish with 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and/or parsley, 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese and salt and pepper.
Modified from a recipe from Jesse McQuarrie of Feast Bistro, Santa Rosa, CA.
YAM AND GOAT CHEESE WONTONS (dairy)
3/4 lb small yams, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white part only, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
3 1/2 oz mild goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
38 wonton wrappers
oil for deep frying
1. Cook yams in medium saucepan of boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer to a bowl. Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Mix in sage.
2. Add leek mixture and goat cheese to cooked yams and mash with fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Tip: Filling can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.
3. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in center of each wonton. Brush wonton edges with water. Fold diagonally in half, pressing edges to seal.
4. Pour oil into heavy large saucepan to depth of 3 inches and heat to 350. Add prepared wontons in batches and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer wontons to paper towels and drain. Arrange on platter and serve.
Submitted by K.T. Meisner Chicago, IL Modified from about.com.
NO-NOODLE EGGPLANT AND GOAT CHEESE LASAGNA (dairy)
Tip: You can make the tomato sauce ahead of time cover and refrigerate it for several days, or freeze up to 1 month or use store bought sauce if you don’t have the time to make homemade sauce.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups diced red bell peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups diced red onion
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (28 oz) Italian-style whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
1 dried bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher (coarse) salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 unpeeled eggplants (about 2 1/2 lbs total)
1 cup flour
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil or peanut oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb. goat cheese
3 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs
1. In 2-quart saucepan, bring broth to a boil and cook 8 to 10 minutes until reduced by half. Meanwhile, in 3-quart heavy saucepan, heat 1/4 cup oil. Add the bell peppers; cook about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until peppers begin to brown. Stir in garlic; cook about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in onion; cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown.
2. Stir in tomato paste, tomatoes (with juice), broth and bay leaf; break up tomatoes with spoon. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. Stir in butter, oregano, basil, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove bay leaf. Keep warm over low heat.
3. Cut unpeeled eggplants lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; let stand 20 minutes, then rinse and dry. In shallow medium bowl, mix flour and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until hot. Coat eggplant slices in flour, shaking off excess. Add eggplant in batches to oil in skillet; cook about 2 minutes, turning once, until browned (add more oil as needed). Drain on paper towels.
4. Preheat oven to 375. In bottom of 13×9 glass baking dish, spread thin layer of tomato sauce. Arrange layer of eggplant in dish to cover bottom completely; spread with another layer of sauce. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of the parsley; dot with 1/3 of the goat cheese. Repeat layering twice, beginning with eggplant and ending with wine. Do not press down on layers. Top with remaining eggplant and another thin layer of sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan (about 2 tablespoons), remaining parsley (about 1 tablespoon) and the bread crumbs.
Tip: At this point, the dish can be covered and refrigerated up to 1 day; return to room temperature before baking, or add another 10 minutes to bake time if baking straight from refrigerator.
5. Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until browned and bubbling (do not overbrown). Let stand a few minutes before cutting into squares to serve.
From my files, modified from epicurious.com.
GOAT CHEESE, OLIVE, RED PEPPER AND SPINACH FRITTATA (dairy)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large red pepper, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh tarragon finely minced
1/4 cup sliced green onions
6 oz spinach ends, trimmed
1/3 cup diced black olives
salt and pepper
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 1/2 oz goat cheese crumbled (Brie can also be used)
1. Preheat oven to 425. In a large, heavy, 10-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over low heat. Add the red pepper, 1/2 tablespoon tarragon and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add the green onions and olives and cook for 1 more minute, then remove the vegetables to a plate.
2. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and add the spinach, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove half of the spinach to a plate and keep the remaining half in skillet.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, vigorously whisk the eggs with the milk, parsley, the remaining tablespoon of tarragon, salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the skillet on top of the spinach and remove from the heat. Scatter the goat cheese, remaining spinach and the peppers on top of the eggs and place on the middle shelf of the oven.
4. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until it looks “puffed” and the egg looks cooked; there shouldn’t be any “wet” looking egg left. Remove from oven and serve hot or at room temperature.
Submitted by Andi Genese from Teaneck, NJ. Source unknown.
GOAT CHEESE MACARONI (dairy)
Servings: 4 – 6
2/3 to 1 pound macaroni shaped pasta, cooked al dente, drained
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 to 3 cups milk or half and half
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh
1/4 to 1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1. Grease the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish and set it aside. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour whisking to create a paste and cook 1 minute. Slowly add the milk, whisking to create a smooth sauce. Let cook about 5 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and slowly add the Parmesan, onion and the goat cheese, whisking until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Place the drained macaroni back into the saucepan and pour the cheese sauce on top, stirring coat. Pour the mixture into the prepared 9X13 dish. In a bowl, place the 1/3 cup parmesan, breadcrumbs, thyme, 1/4 cup goat cheese and a little pepper. Mix to combine. Sprinkle the topping over the macaroni and then top with the crumbled goat cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, kosher.com and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen.