Goat Cheese? Yes. Please.

I distinctly remember the moment I fell in love with goat cheese. It was 2003. I was at a winery in Williamsburg, VA with two very dear friends of mine. Until that moment, I had always proclaimed my dislike for the stuff. Then, I tasted this amazing white, creamy, tangy, deliciousness atop a piece of crusty French bread. THIS was goat cheese? No way. I had tried it once before, but this was not the taste I remembered. From that day until now, I am constantly proclaiming my love for this ingredient and finding new ways to use it in recipes.

Goat cheese comes in many forms—all of which are amazingly complex and tasty. Some cheese makers specialize only in goat cheese offering several types or flavors, while others make cheese with sheep and cow’s milk, too. I have a few favorite cheese makers in our area, but the one that I visit most often is Hillsborough Cheese Company at the Western Wake Farmers Market. Dorian West and his wife, Cindy, produce some incredible cheeses. I especially love their plain goat Chèvre (used in the recipe below) and their Lebna (a yogurt cheese used in Middle Eastern cuisine). I have used the Lebna in a previous post here. Suffice it to say, I am huge fan of all of their cheeses and buy some nearly every week.

Besides using goat cheese as a recipe ingredient, I also love it straight from the container. Goat chèvre and fig jam on a cracker or fresh bread is one of my all time favorite snacks. Toasted bread spread with goat chèvre, slices of pear or apple, drizzled with honey and toasted nuts—the perfect breakfast. I use it in spinach salads along with fresh strawberries, toasted pecans, and a honey balsamic dressing. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I hear your stomach growling, so let’s just get to the recipe…

Goat Cheese Spring Onion Ravioli

For the filling:

  • 4 bunches of spring onions
  • 4-6 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Slice the cleaned spring onions in half lengthwise and then chop into 1/8” half-moon slices.
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil together in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 8 minutes or until the onions are softened
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and add the goat cheese.
  4. Stir to combine ingredients and remove from heat. Allow mixture to cool before making ravioli.

**The original recipe for this goat cheese filling was from a class I took at Durham Spirits Company. Chef Katie Coleman used this spread atop a crostini and drizzled it with red pepper jelly. PLEASE try that, too. This recipe is very versatile.

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Making the ravioli:

I use the Basic Egg Pasta Dough recipe found here: Mangia Bene

  1. Using a pasta maker, roll out a sheet of dough about 1/16” thick and 24” long. **Start with pasta machine on the thickest setting and put the dough through 3-4 times. Then gradually move through the next 3 settings processing the dough through 3 times each
  2. Cut the dough into two 12” lengths. Place one sheet on the ravioli tray and use the plastic insert to make wells for the filing.
  3. Place 1 tsp. of filling in each well. Place the second sheet over the first one, making sure that the edges are covered.
  4. Seal and cut ravioli by rolling a rolling pin over the tray. Ensure that all of the edges are sealed and there are no air pockets around the filling.
  5. Place the ravioli on a lightly floured baking sheet to dry for at least 10 minutes.

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Preparing the ravioli:

  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
  1. Fill a stockpot with water. Bring to a boil and add 1 tsp. salt.
  2. Add ravioli and stir gently to prevent sticking. Return water to a boil and reduce heat to a gently boil.
  3. Cook ravioli for about 4 minutes gently stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  4. While the ravioli is cooking, melt butter and olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan. Add the garlic and red pepper. Reduce the heat to low and slowly toast the garlic while the ravioli continues to cook.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the ravioli from the pot and add to the skillet. Toss to coat and serve.
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This is how I prep the ravioli for freezing. Once they are completely frozen, place in a freezer bag. When cooking from frozen, increase time by 2 minutes.

Better with Butter

Butter makes everything better. At least, this is something I believe to be true. Give me a loaf of artisan bread and some soft, creamy salted butter—I am in heaven.   Mashed potatoes, Belgian waffles, and banana bread—I put butter on all of it! Butter has received a bad reputation over the years. It fell from grace with the dawn of the low cholesterol diet and has, just recently, regained some respect in the food world. Now, I am not suggesting we go overboard and put butter on everything. It is one of those ingredients we should use in moderation and with intent.

Butter has long been used as vital ingredient in basting roasting meats. It makes for a crispy exterior and keeps the meat juicy. Using this fact as inspiration, I wanted to inject more flavor into the meat of roasted chicken. Why not use butter as a vehicle to accomplish this task? Instead of basting the bird, I smeared the butter between the skin and the meat. Now, let’s talk flavors. Butter by itself is great, but a compound butter—softened butter mixed with herbs and spices—is even better. For this recipe, I mixed minced garlic, lemon zest, chives, and parsley with my softened salted butter. Using my fingers, I separated the skin from the meat. There is a membrane in there that breaks easily with slight force. Once the skin and meat have been disconnected, there is a great space to spread the compound butter.

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After spreading the compound butter under the skin of each piece of chicken, I applied a light coating of olive oil, salt, and pepper to the outside. I used leg quarters for this recipe, and roasted them at 375° F for 40-45 minutes. I like something puréed or mashed with my roast chicken like celery root and potatoes. Add a little balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of chives…and you have an impressive meal for your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to play with different flavors in your compound butter. The possibilities are endless!

Celery Root & Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 large celery root
  • 12 medium new potatoes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 5 tbs. butter
  • 1/3 c. crème fraiche
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Remove the outer layer of the celery root and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes.
  2. Cut small new potatoes in half
  3. Place the potatoes and the celery root in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to a low boil and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until celery root and potatoes are fork tender.
  5. Strain and place in a bowl.
  6. Add butter and crème fraiche
  7. Mash the mixture with a potato masher to the desired consistency—I like some chunks in mine!
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste

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