Category: Goat Cheese


Sweet potatoes!

I spoke too soon in my last post–it seems spring is still not here.  I woke up to see snow on the ground and to hear little ice pellets clattering against the window.  Since it’s a good day to stay indoors and sit by the fire, I have a hearty, wintertime recipe to share with you.

Until I made these beauties the other day, I had never made twice-baked sweet potatoes before.  In fact, I had never made any kind of twice-baked potato before.  Where had they been all my life??

Twice-baked sweet potatoes are, in fact, surprisingly easy to make, requiring very little effort and only a minimal amount of pre-planning (you’ll need about an hour and a half to make them, but only about 10-15 minutes of that time will be spent actually doing anything.  The oven takes care of the rest!)

The recipe below is really more of a template–there are an infinite number of ways in which you could season your potatoes; I just pulled out a bunch of different spices that I thought would play well together and added them in, a bit at a time, til I had a flavor I was satisfied with.  I ended up using a combination of Chinese five-spice, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and curry powder.  The curry powder was a last minute addition, because it still wasn’t tasting quite right–had I thought of it sooner I probably could have eliminated the extra cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.  Other spices that would work as well include ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.  Or you could try adding a splash of maple syrup with some cayenne…there are a ton of different possibilities.  The key is to add a little at a time, mix well, and taste.  I ended up tasting the mix five or six times before I was satisfied.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
(serves 2)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 oz soft goat cheese
  • a pinch of raw cane sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • spices to taste (e.g. curry powder, five-spice, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, ginger, etc)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Thoroughly scrub the sweet potatoes, and poke them all over with a fork.  Put them in the oven, directly onto the middle rack, and put a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips.  Bake for about an hour.

When the sweet potatoes are done baking, take them out of the oven, and cut a slit along the top of each potato, lengthwise.  Gently push on the ends of each potato to open it up, and scoop the insides into a bowl with the goat cheese.  Be careful not to tear the skins.  Mix up the sweet potato flesh and goat cheese until fully incorporated.  Then add the sugar, and the spices of your choice, a bit at a time.  Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and mix thoroughly, tasting periodically as you adjust the spicing.

When you like the flavor, gently spoon the filling back into the sweet potato skins, put them on the baking sheet, and return them to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes or so until warmed through and slightly browned on top.  Enjoy!

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Finally getting around to writing about the Christmas cookies I baked this year!  I know, I know, it’s March.  But cookies are good any time of year.

I made seven different kinds this year, and only one was a variety I had made before:

Not so "easy" when it comes time to take them out of the pan...

“Easy” Layer Bars from a 1970s utility company cookbook. I REALLY should have lined the pan with parchment.

They don't turn pink when you use organic cherries

Cherry Blossoms from Flour On My Face

These were one of my favorites!

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies, adapted from Go Bold With Butter (no coconut or nuts in mine)

The recipe made about a billion of these!  My freezer is still full of them.

Orange Cardamom Crinkles, also from Go Bold with Butter. Next time I’d probably double the cardamom.

I need more cooling racks.

So many cookies!

mmm...Nutella!

The only kind I’d made before: Nutella Lava Cookies from Kirbie’s Cravings. These are pretty much the Best. Cookies. Ever.

Plus I made Almond Cloud Cookies (unfortunately I seem to be lacking a picture of those), and that’s not even counting the Tangerine-Ginger-Vanilla Sugar Cookies and Nutella Chip Cookies that I made with some friends of mine earlier in December.  There were so very many cookies this year!

But I couldn’t go without making up my own cookie recipe, so my friends and I brainstormed flavors that would go well together and eventually decided that it would be really awesome to find a way to combine the flavors of habanero, lime, and dark chocolate all together in one cookie.

But how to do it?  I thought the flavors might get lost if they were just directly added to a chocolate dough.  So I needed some sort of filling.  Cheese is my go-to answer for almost every cooking question, so I figured, why not mix the habanero and lime with some goat cheese?

it looks Christmasy!

The filling, just waiting to be mixed…

Upon further reflection, it made sense to add cream cheese to the mix, because goat cheese can be a bit crumbly in texture, so it turned into a cheesecake filling, with cream cheese, goat cheese, lime zest, lime juice, very finely minced habanero, and powdered sugar.  I don’t actually know how much powdered sugar I ended up adding.  I started off with every intention of measuring and added a quarter cup, but upon tasting, it really wasn’t sweet enough and didn’t seem like a dessert, so I added more, a little at a time, until it tasted right.  So when you make these, just be sure you add the powdered sugar slowly until you’re satisfied with the flavor.  You need just enough to take it over the line from savory to sweet, but be careful not to go too sweet, since you’re already surrounding it with chocolatey cookie goodness.

They're big cookies.

 

Cheesecake Cookies!

Dark Chocolate Habanero Lime Cheesecake Cookies
(makes approx. 34 cookies)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1.25 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2.25 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.25c bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 8oz (1 package) cream cheese
  • 4oz goat cheese
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 habaneros, seeded and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup + extra (to taste) powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy (this may take a couple minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the cocoa powder and mix it in gently.  Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder, and then slowly add them to the wet ingredients, about a third at a time, and mix until just combined.  With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, blend together the cream cheese, goat cheese, lime zest, minced habaneros, 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, and half of the lime juice.  Taste it, and add more powdered sugar and/or lime juice until you’re satisfied with the taste of the filling.  Be careful not to over-sweeten: the chocolate cookie dough is fairly sweet, so just add the powdered sugar a little at a time.

Scoop up about 2tbsp of cookie dough, roll it into a ball, and then flatten it to a disk in your hand with a slight indentation in the middle.  Scoop a bit of the filling into the middle, and then wrap the cookie dough around it, sealing in the filling.  Roll it back into a ball, and put it on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Space cookies about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-17 minutes.  Cool on the sheet for a few minutes, and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

PS. You may have extra filling left–it makes an excellent mini cheesecake!  Just take a ramekin, mix a little melted butter with some graham cracker crumbs (or cookie crumbs…whatever you have) in the bottom and then load in the filling and bake at 350 degrees til it’s set.

mmm...leftovers!

Leftover filling mini-cheesecake!

 

I owe you a potato salad recipe!  I really meant to get this recipe posted last week, but I didn’t manage to get it written before leaving for a long weekend in Virginia (if you’re ever in Williamsburg, try The Trellis) and then this past week turned out to be unexpectedly busy!  But I haven’t forgotten about the potato salad I promised you on Twitter!

The thought process behind this potato salad: “Oh crap, I still haven’t used those garlic scapes I bought at the farmer’s market last week!  Are they even still good?  Oh and the mushrooms!  And the bag of potatoes!  And the asparagus!  What can I make with mushrooms, garlic scapes, asparagus and potatoes??? …Potato salad!”

As I detest mayonnaise, I decided to make a yogurt-based potato salad.  Plain Greek yogurt provides both a wonderful creamy texture and a nice tang, which I amped up even more by adding some soft goat cheese and a little dijon mustard.  (Emphasis on little.  I’m not a fan of mustard but my husband loves it so we compromise).

Garlic Scapes!

lonely corn

As I was chopping up the potatoes I remembered that I also had a lonely ear of corn in the back of the fridge.  So in that went as well!  All in all it turned out to be quite good, both as an entree and as a side dish.  (And as a way to clean out my fridge!)  So the next time you have some potatoes and other random vegetables hanging around, make yourself some potato salad!

 

On a plate!

Potato Salad with Asparagus

  • 2lbs small red potatoes, diced into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1-2 ears of sweetcorn
  • 1 bundle of garlic scapes
  • a handful of Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1c chopped mushrooms (I used shiitake)
  • 1c plain Greek yogurt
  • 2oz soft goat cheese
  • 1/2tsp vinegar
  • 1/4tsp dijon mustard (more if you like it)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Put your potatoes into a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat slightly and let them cook until the potatoes are tender, but not falling apart.  (You don’t want potato mush in your potato salad!)  While the potatoes are boiling, drop your shucked ear(s) of corn into the water for about a minute or so.  Pull the corn out with a pair of tongs, run some cold water over it to stop the cooking, and then set it aside to let it cool the rest of the way. When the potatoes are done, drain them, and set them aside to cool.

Meanwhile, get out a medium sized skillet and heat it over medium heat.  Add a splash of olive oil and then toss in your mushrooms and garlic scapes.  Saute for a few minutes until the mushrooms are browned, then remove the skillet from the heat and let the mushrooms and garlic scapes cool as well.

While you’re waiting for everything to cool, in a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, goat cheese, vinegar, mustard, and pepper.  Taste it as you go, and adjust the ingredients to your preferences.  Set aside.

Get out a large bowl, and stand your ear(s) of corn on end and shave off the kernels into the bowl.  Then chop the asparagus into inch-long segments and add it to the bowl as well.  Add your cooled potatoes as well as your mushrooms and garlic scapes, and then add the yogurt mixture.  With a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold everything together until all of the components are well-coated with the yogurt mixture.  Season with salt and more pepper to taste and enjoy!

Sometimes my experimental recipes don’t go very well.  Or sometimes (like yesterday) they start off good but I quickly get sick of eating them.  Probably about 95% of the time I make one-dish meals (saves on dishes and I’m just cooking for me!), so it’s not good to get sick of what you’re eating halfway through!  But sometimes I invent something awesome that I totally want to eat again.  Tonight was one of those nights.

The initial inspiration for this recipe came from Jamie Oliver–I had bought the tagliatelli a couple weeks ago for making his pasta dish with parsnips and pancetta.  When I went grocery shopping this past week, I decided to pick up some fresh mushrooms and fresh herbs with the vague notion of making some sort of pasta dish.  I had also wanted pancetta, but alas there was none.  So tonight I was digging around in my fridge trying to figure out what else to put with the mushrooms, rosemary, and tagliatelli when it occurred to me to toss in some kale and goat cheese, figuring that I could thin the goat cheese with a little olive oil to make it like a sauce.

This turned out to work exactly as expected and was delicious!  That rarely happens without a recipe!

And thus without further ado:

Mushroom and Kale Tagliatelli

  • 2-3 handfuls of small porcini mushrooms (or whatever kind you like)
  • 2-3 stalks of fresh rosemary
  • 2 servings worth of tagliatelli or other long pasta
  • 3-4 large leaves of kale
  • half a package of goat cheese
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
Put a pot of water on the stove to boil.  Meanwhile, wash the mushrooms, rosemary and kale.  De-stem the rosemary and kale, and then finely chop the rosemary and coarsely chop the kale.  Slice the mushrooms into 1/4 in. slices.  Peel and coarsely chop the garlic.  Salt the boiling water and add the pasta.
Add a good glug of olive oil to a hot skillet and toss in the mushrooms, rosemary, and some salt and pepper.  Stir frequently, and when the mushrooms are mostly cooked, add the kale and a little bit more olive oil if necessary.  When the kale turns bright green, turn off the heat and toss in the garlic.
Drain the pasta, reserving a small amount of the cooking water.  Dump the pasta, water, mushrooms and kale back into the pasta pan.  Add the goat cheese and a little olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir vigorously until the goat cheese melts and forms almost a sauce.  Serve, and top with Parmesan cheese to taste.
[Note: I’ll post pictures later when I get them onto my computer]

Lasagna for One

The final product.I’m pretty sure I’ve never made this dish the same way twice. It changes depending on what vegetables I have handy, what I’m in the mood for, and how much time I have for cooking.  But it does always contain beets, goat cheese, and (obviously, since it’s lasagna!) a lasagna noodle.

The original recipe for this lasagna came from Lauren over at A Delightful Affair.  I really love her blog and am frequently inspired by her cooking!  In her version of this lasagna, she uses asparagus, arugula, and peas in addition to the beets.  I’m with her on the peas, but I’m not such a fan of the asparagus and arugula, so I toss in other things.  Usually I end up with some combination of beets, peas, carrots and broccoli, but this most recent time I ended up using baby spinach which turned out better than I was expecting!

I’m not going to post a step-by-step here, since you can find that over at Lauren’s blog, but I did want to make a few notes about what I do differently in my version:

The Beets
As I have yet to find vacuum-sealed, pre-cooked beets, I bought fresh ones.  I boiled them, but you can also roast them or steam them.  However you do it, they’re done once you can stick a fork into them.  Run cold water over the beets to cool them off enough to touch, and then rub the skins off.  You could have peeled them ahead of time but this way is much easier!

The vegetables!The Dressing
The dressing is a mix of rice vinegar, honey, and olive oil.  I like clover honey for this.  I tried it once with orange blossom honey with the thought of, “hey–beets are good with citrus, orange blossom honey presumably comes from the blossoms of orange trees, ergo it should be good with beets!”  Sadly this logic failed me.  Orange blossom honey was way too sweet for this dish.  And of course its flavor had no relation to citrus whatsoever.  So yes.  Clover honey is the way to go.  I also like to add some dill to the dressing, because to me, beets and dill should almost always be together.

The Reduction (that I don’t make)
Lauren tops her lasagna off with an apricot reduction but when I first started making this recipe, I didn’t have a second pan so I couldn’t make the reduction, and since it still turned out well without it, I’ve just never bothered.  If you want to try making the reduction though, head on over to her blog and she’ll tell you how!