Such a Nice Kid

29 Nov

Not everybody loves goat cheese. It can smell a bit like old running shoes–but only if the goat milk isn’t processed right. If tiny bubbles of goat milk fat are allowed to burst during the cheese making process, they release bitterness and a billy-goat aroma. Good artisanal goat cheese, however, is nothing like that. It’s sweet, creamy, just a little sharp and full of interesting nuances.

Passez-moi la baguette!

And another great thing: goat milk is much closer than cow milk in its nutritional make-up to human milk, so for people with dairy sensitivities, it’s easier to digest and enjoy.

Last weekend, I got the chance to sample some wonderful goat cheeses, including L’Ilot de Blanche-Neige (silky and creamy), Le Lavallois (mushroom flavours, Camembert style) and La Tour St-Francois (washed rind, mild and buttery), produced by the small-scale Fromagerie du Vieux St-François, just north of Montreal, for the Beaver Club restaurant at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel.

The hotel has adopted a goat from this farm as their mascot. Her name is Blanche Neige, and she is pretty adorable.

She’s one of a small herd of 120 grass-fed goats, 60 of which produce milk to be transformed into cheeses by owner and cheesemaker, Suzanne Latour, and her son, Samuel Ouimet.

Diners who’ve sampled the fromagerie’s products at the Beaver Club in everything from the asparagus and goat cheese bundles to the nougat to the red berry cheesecake, can also buy Blanche Neige specialty cheeses from the Queen Elizabeth hotel boutique. That’s a great way to support local agriculture and take home something unique.

Executive Chef Alain Pignard, originally from Lyon, France, has been working in the Queen Elizabeth kitchens for 25 years serving Beaver Club guests such as Bill Gates (he has his own plate) and Stephen Harper.

Alain invented a spectacular dish for me to share here, using one of my favourite ingredient combos: beets and goat cheese. It’s pretty elaborate, and something you might want to try for a dinner party, not a Tuesday night. But I promise, your guests will be blown away by the vibrant colours, artistic presentation and rich, contrasting flavours.

Beetroot Napoleon with Goat Cheese

 (Serves: 10)

4 medium yellow beetroots
2 medium red beetroots
250 g creamy goat cheese
1 bouquet of parsley, chervil, tarragon
300 mL white wine
10 tbsp sour cream
1 pint raspberries
Juice of 1 lemon
200 mL of Port
2 yellow tomatoes
2 red tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of black pepper
10 green asparagus
1 pint micro greens (mesclun)
3 royal oyster mushrooms
100g girolle mushrooms
1 green apple
3 stalks chives

1. Cook the beetroots, peeled and covered in foil, in the oven for 1 hour at 300° F. Set aside.

2. Reduce white wine to 1/10 times of its original volume. Finely chop the parsley, chervil and tarragon in a blender with a little cold water.  Strain and press to remove all water and obtain a green paste.  Mix together with creamy goat cheese and then add to the reduced white wine. Set aside in a piping bag.

3. Thinly slice the yellow beetroot.  Place one slice of beetroot at the bottom of a small rectangular ovenproof pan, spread one layer of goat cheese preparation over it and repeat layers 6- 8 times. Cover with wax paper and cook in the oven for 30 minutes at 300° F.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and let cool with weight over top to press down. Once cooled cut into cubes. Set aside.

5. Blanch the 10 green asparagus and cut tips in two. Set aside.

6. To prepare a raspberry purée, strain raspberies in sieve to remove seeds, mix with sour cream and lemon juice. Set aside.

7. For the tomato salsa: Remove the skin and seeds of two tomatoes. Cut into small cubes, season with olive oil, chives and ground pepper. Set aside.

8. For the sautéed mushrooms: Wash the girolle and oyster mushrooms (or any other variety being used). Cut into small cubes, sauté on high heat in olive oil, season with salt, pepper and chopped chives. Set aside.

9. For the Beetroot Napoleons: With a cookie cutter or other round shape, cut 40 slices of both beetroot colours.

Prepare the Napoleons by alternating goat cheese and the different colors of sliced beetroot in layers. Set aside.

To assemble the dish:

1. Place two beetroot Napoleons on the dish, one on each side.

2. In the centre of the plate, make a small pile of finely chopped apple sticks.

3. Add the sautéed mushrooms, 1 beetroot/goat cheese cube and 2 green asparagus tips on top.

Then decorate with tomato salsa, reduced Port wine and raspberry vinaigrette and a little mesclun.

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

2 Responses to “Such a Nice Kid”

  1. Kitchen Vignettes November 29th, 2011 at 8:41 PM #

    I love goats and I love goat cheese! What a beautiful blogpost with gorgeous photos. The recipe certainly looks like a worthwhile challenge. Next time I have guests to impress I’ll be trying this one.

    • Valerie Howes November 29th, 2011 at 11:14 PM #

      Thank you! And I am a huge fan of your food videos at kitchenvignettes.blogspot.com .

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