Tag Archives: Goat cheese

Post-election goat cheese and pistachio loaf

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Australia has a new Prime Minister-elect. Before the election, some people planned to move overseas (unil the next election) if one political party won; and some others planned to leave the country if either of the main political parties won – guess they must be somewhere far away by now.

Political ‘stuff’ aside, if I was choosing a place to live for the next three years, where would I go? Would I be able to find goats cheese, fresh mozzarella, figs and quince in season? How far is a good vendor of xiao long bao, or pho, or green papaya salad or hor mok? What about crusty sourdoughs? And would I miss Clive Palmer’s Titanic II?

I probably would take an extravagant round-the-world trip instead.

The first stop? France. All that cheese, wine, and women who don’t get fat (what about the men?), and all that kuign amann.

After France, the possibilities are (almost) endless – Bolivia, Guatemala, Cuba, Argentina, India, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Spain, Portugal, Russia (with a ride on the Trans-Siberian railway), Iceland, some corner of the Middle East (Syria, I wonder if I could go back to Syria), Japan, and let’s not forget that blogger feast in a Medieval feasting tent I’ve been planning with Laura.

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In the meantime, I’ll bask in the sunlight, clear sky, reading at the beach and riot-of-colours flowers that come with a Sydney spring. And bake things with a French accent. Such as this savoury goat cheese loaf (still working on that kuign amman…).

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Lazy sophistication in a goats curd, fig and walnut tart

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Sometimes, a recipe says to me, ‘Make me, now, don’t wait.’

And I don’t wait. (Really, who would dare say no to a talking recipe?)

I had one of those moments when I saw a goats cheese, walnut, dried figs single crust pie on Johnny’s blog, Feed the Piglet. I recently discovered his blog, and it had me at hello. Those recipes for home made stock, beautifully laid tables complete with tall-stemmed glassware. As someone who often grabs a hasty lunch in the CBD, those tall-stemmed glassware, architectural potato stacks and parsley soup speak of holidays, weekends and fabulous feasts.

When I saw the recipe, I sat there looking at the computer screen for a good few minutes, trying to imagine the mingling of sweet and savoury, soft and crumbly. There was a roux made with home made stock, goats cheese, walnuts, dried figs and plumped-up prunes, all in a made-from-scratch shortcrust pastry case. It was intrigue at first sight.

So I went ahead and made the pie, or a lazy person’s version of. There was goats curd instead of goats cheese, no roux (the stock had run away with the risotto earlier in the week), and puff pastry instead of home made shortcrust. Then, the finished product looked more like frivolous tarts than sturdy serious pies, probably because I made them in mini pie dishes, and the puff pastry was a bit frou frou. 

Nonetheless, the finished tarts were things of beauty, despite my shortcuts and the slapdash rustic presentation (it was the best kind of Sydney winter’s morning, with such an achingly blue, cloudless sky, I couldn’t stay indoors for too long). The sweet, soft figs were set off by the tangy goats curd and the savoury walnuts. I added some roasted apples to the filling mix, and they provided a softer, tart-sweetness that melted into the goats curd filling.

The word that came to mind was sophisticated. There was nothing superficial about the flavours, they pulled you in and demanded that you think about and savour every bite.

And if my slapdash version was good, just think what Johnny’s original would be like.

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Eurovision! brioche pockets, blinged-up cookies

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Can you believe it’s 30 years of Eurovision song contest?

Eurovision has a surprisingly large fan base in Australia, probably since we fell in love with ABBA way back when. These days, our multicultural broadcaster SBS despatches two commentators to the host city, dedicated to living, breathing, and relaying every sparkle, tassel, costume reveal, key change (intentional or otherwise) and pyrotechnics from the extravaganza. It’s almost like Tour de France season. We even got a mention from the presenter Petra Mede this year, *squeal*.

Some fans in Australia are pretty seriously committed. A previous Australian commentator got in trouble with some fans when he made fun of the show. (Really? They don’t find it mesmerising-funny that Cesar from Romania was channeling Dracula, and then broke out in a magnificent falsetto?)

On Sunday night, when Eurovision was broadcast on Australian TV, we were at an Eurovision party dressed up to the crazy nines. I was dressed as one of the Russian grandmothers or babushkas from last year. Anyone remember them? They brought out trays of cookies from an oven while singing on stage! My costume of course included a tray of freshly baked cookies – food as costume, wowza.

It’s not a proper Eurovision party without a smorgasbord of dishes from the contestant countries. Someone brought Portuguese chicken, which was technically not permitted because Portugal didn’t enter this year’s contest, but we ate the chicken anyway. I had two food entries: savoury brioche pockets, which was this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) assignment, and blinged up chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, which was part of my babushka costume.

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Summer holidays, with a bare kitchen

We have been back at work for two weeks. Coming back from a holiday on the south coast of NSW, we slowly settle back into life in the city, our sun tans fade and I finally get that bit of sand out of the beach towel.

There was a ‘quiet gladness’ that comes from being immersed in the sea, sand and surrounding bushland. Here are some photos (some taken with our p+s camera, often with a phone), and two recipes at the end of the post.

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Frolicking with goat cheese

Cooking with curiosity is permission to play with flavours, techniques, recipes. It prompts an amateur-cook to ask, ‘how do I…’, often followed by ‘what would happen if…?’ 

After reading many recipes for home made “ricotta” cheese, I wondered if the simple technique will work with milk other than cow’s milk. My local grocer stocks sheep’s milk and goat milk, so goat “ricotta” cheese was first on the list.

I particularly wanted to make goat cheese for the food festival dinner. Leites Culinaria had the idea to drizzle lemon and thyme-scented oil over olives and goat cheese – the ultimate simple, elegant dinner party trick. 

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