Monthly Archives: April 2011

Fromage Blanc & Buckwheat Spring Salad Recipe

Fromage Blanc and Buckwheat Salad

Fromage Blanc and Buckwheat Salad

This salad recipe is an accompaniment to my “Spring Cheese: Keepin it Fresh” post. Give in to the urge to put fresh cheese in everything this spring!

I used Dairy Goddess fromage blanc for this recipe, but you may use any that tickles your fancy. My inspiration for this salad was wanting to create a spring salad with a lively, young cheese other than chevre. Would chevre work in it? Sure thing. But the delicious fromage blanc in my fridge was mighty tempting. The buckwheat brings an earthy, toastiness to the salad. However, use the untoasted greenish or light brown buckwheat available at your local health food market- the “toasted” doesn’t seem to cook as evenly. This is the buckwheat recipe I use, but go with your favorite. Broccoli just happened to be my crisper at the time, but steamed or roasted asparagus, snow peas, or english peas would fare just as well. The cooking instructions for the egg are very precise- follow them exactly, and you’ll have a bright yellow, slightly soft yolk.

Fromage blanc and buckwheat spring salad

serves two

1/2 small head broccoli

1 egg

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon stone ground mustard

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

3/4 cups cooked buckwheat, at room temperature

2-3 ounces fromage blanc

3 ounces toasted walnuts

Salad pre fromage-blanc

Salad pre fromage-blanc

Place your egg (or two, if each person wants one of their own) in a small saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium. Cook for only 7 minutes. Remove eggs from pot, place in a bowl, and run a slow stream of cool water over them for 1 minute. Set aside.

While egg is doing its thing, cook your broccoli. If steaming, cook for 6-8 minutes, until still lightly crunchy. If blanching, drop in boiling, salted water and cook for around 5 minutes (lightly crunchy is key here too), then drain. Set aside to cool.

Put your lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and garlic in a small jar and shake vigorously. Or, mix well in a small bowl.

Once your broccoli is cool, place it and the buckwheat a medium-sized bowl. Loosely break up buckwheat kernels. Add walnuts. Pour in the dressing and lightly mix. Salt and pepper to taste.

After egg has cooled your liking, peel and slice in half, lengthwise. Lightly salt and pepper the cut side of the egg.

Divide salad between two plates. Crumble the fromage blanc over the salad and top with egg.

Spring Cheese: Keepin it Fresh

Dairy Goddess "Naked" Fromage Blanc

Dairy Goddess "Naked" Fromage Blanc

As a seasonal spring cheese class I’m teaching draws near, I find myself thinking of freshness. Milk, fresh with the flavors of green grasses and young flowers growing on the spring Sonoma and Marin hills. Young cheese, un-aged and meant to be consumed with days to a short week or two from production. And perhaps needless to say, I’m also thinking of Doug E. Fresh’s mad beatboxing skills. But that’s another hip hop cheese story.

Spring is the time to eat all the young, fresh cheeses that you can possibly fit on your appetizer plate, in your salad, with your entrée, and in your strawberry tart. It’s the time when artisan cheese-milking animals are out munching some of the best grass they’ll ever get their ruminant mitts on.

Why isn’t any aged cheese eaten in an especially fresh season like spring enough? Why does the cheese itself have to be fresh if you want to taste what spring’s all about?

If one was to eat an aged cheese now, they’d be tasting the flavors of cheese in whichever season the cheese was made. For example, an aged, 4 month-old cheese consumed now would be made mid-December. The cheese would taste different. It would be richer because winter milk has more fat, and it wouldn’t have as many light bright, fresh grassy notes as a cheese made in spring or summer because the animals were eating more hay and dried grasses. It would still be delicious, but it would have noticeably different notes to it.

What to see if you can taste the freshness?

Try some of these beauties :

Dairy Goddess Fromage Blanc (pictured above, recipe with coming soon) An established dairy, but new creamery in Central California, the Dairy Goddess’s “Naked” flavor shows the season’s flavors best, and their chocolate hazelnut fromage blanc begs to be topped with orange zest and warmed in a crepe. I’ve also been very happy with Cowgirl’s, Bellwether’s and Vermont Butter and Creamery’s, but try cheesemaker Barbara Martin’s if you can- she’s new and is doing a great job.

Bellwether Farms Sheep’s milk Ricotta/Salvatore Byklyn Ricotta- I love these folks’s ricotta, but if you can’t find them near you (they sell out fast and don’t travel far), look for a freshie made from small-batch local milk. And please, share which regional ones you love in this comment section.

Redwood Hill Chevre- These baby goats were the happiest kids I’ve ever visited. They munched on my belt buckle and stole my heart, but I’d suggest going with your favorite local chevre- the more local, the less distance it has to travel, and the more fresh the seasonal milk flavors will be.

The above samples are just a few of many great spring cheeses out there. It doesn’t have to be this fresh- the cheese could be aged for a bit and still taste of spring, this is just to give you a primer. Ask your cheesemonger for cheeses they think are showing best this season- they probably have something else waiting just for you. If you’re very nice to them, what they have behind the counter may be a local mozzarella that demands to be eaten in two days (oh, the stress!).

playful-nubian-kid-1269973443

Nubian kid, courtesy of Redwood Hill website

Also, check out these great goat-themed spring events in the SF Bay Area. Most are free. Some promise baby goats.

Mark Scarborough & Bruce Weinstein • Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese, a book reading, Omivore Books- Saturday, April 16th, 3pm

3rd Annual Goat Festival- April 16th, San Francisco Ferry Plaza

Goat Cheese Making Workshop with Nicole Kramer (All proceeds will be donated to Cobb Elementary School in San Francisco), Omnivore Books, Sunday, April 17th, 4-5pm

Redwood Hill Open House- Sebastopol, May 7 & 8th between 11 am and 3pm (scroll until you see this baby Nubian photo on Redwood’s webpage)

What are you eating now near you?

Mt Townsend’s Seastack- is it a goat, a cow, a …?

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Seastack, getting its mold on. From Mt Townsend website.

While it doesn’t provoke questions as perplexing as the recent discovery of a lamb-puppy in China, Mt Townsend’s Seastack also leaves people with their eyebrows raised, wondering “which animal is it?” A cheese made in Port Townsend, Washington, Seastack weighs in at eight ounces and reaches an inch and a half high. It’s creamy, buttery, tangy, and has a thin coating of ash beneath its plush white exterior.

Like Selles-sur-Cher, and numerous other goat’s milk cheeses styled after the Loire Valley chevre crew, Seastack gets a dousing of vegetable ash after the curds have set. This inspires the growth of the penicilum candidum mold- the mold that creates the plush, brie-like rind on cheeses like Mt. Tam, camembert, Humboldt Fog, and Kurtwood Farm’s Dinah. The mold helps the cheese look pretty, and keeps the inside soft and moist.

A slice of Seastack reveals a layered cheese. First comes the plush bloomy rind. Then, underneath the bloom, a thin strip of ash. Next, there is a soft, thin, off-white layer that glistens like silk. It’s creamy and gooey. Beneath the silky goo is a slightly crumbly center. As the cheese ages, the silk goo takes over. It inches its way in, and the crumbly center has no choice but to submit to the cream (not a bad ultimatum).

It’s rare one sees this type of layering with a cow’s milk cheese. The layering resembles what happens with a goat’s milk or mixed-milk cheeses as they mature- for example, like with Zingerman’s Lincoln Log or mixed-milk La Tur. But Seastack is made entirely with cow’s milk from Port Townsend dairies.

So how did the lamb come out looking like a puppy, you ask? I have my suspicions, but let’s stay focused.

Seastack comes out layered and crumbly like a goat’s milk concoction because it undergoes more lactic acid fermentation and gets less rennet than many soft bloomy-rinded cow’s milk cheeses. After pasteurization, the milk is left out for hours to start acidifying and curdling on its own, rather than being provoked to coagulate early with rennet. The lactose sugars convert themselves to lactic acid, and when this happens, curds form just like when rennet is added to the milk. But different style curds form, and the cow’s milk assumes tangy, slightly lemony flavors like it were goat’s milk from this style of coagulation. Rennet is also added to Seastack, but it’s prominent flavors and later textures are shaped by its lactic acid fermentation.

Besides the lemony flavors and awesome layers, Seastack tastes like fresh milk, a little like mushrooms depending on the batch, and like lively, cultured butter. It loves dried or fresh figs, sour cherry jam, Sauvignon Blanc, crémant sparklings and Cava or Prosecco. Like a certain girl I know.

Want to read more?

Cheese By Hand

Crave DFW

Girl and the Grapevine

Have you tried Mt. Townsend cheeses? Do you have a favorite of theirs?