food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘goat cheese

goat cheese soufflé

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It’s been a while since I made a soufflé but a glut of egg whites and this recipe inspired me. My version was adapted for goat cheese and more egg whites and had an excellent light and fluffy texture.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F) and place the oven shelf in the lowest position. Grease a 4-6 cup straight-sided oven dish with softened butter and add grated parmesan so that it sticks to the buttered surface. If the weather is warm set it aside in the fridge. In a small saucepan melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then add 28g (1 oz) of plain flour and whisk to form a paste. Stir and cook until the flour no longer smells raw. Add 1 cup of milk bit by bit, maintaining a lump-free texture by whisking continuously. When all the milk has been added simmer until thickened then reduce the heat to low and cook for a few minutes more. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer this béchamel sauce to a large mixing bowl and allow it to cool slightly. Whisk in 200g (7 oz) of soft goat cheese followed by 3 egg yolks, one at a time, until thoroughly blended. Set the mixture aside. In another large mixing bowl or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment combine 5 – 6 egg whites with ½ a teaspoon of cream of tartar and beat until you have firm peaks. The cream of tartar is optional but will prevent the egg whites from becoming over-whipped. Using a silicone spatula gently fold the egg whites into the soufflé mix just until well combined. Set the prepared baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer the mix into it, filling it up to the inner ridge but not quite to the top. Gently smooth and level the surface. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until well risen, nicely browned and set. The soufflé may have a wobble but the centre should be the same as the outer edges. Serve immediately.


Written by michelle picker

July 17, 2019 at 12:16 am

Posted in eggs

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eggplant mexican style

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Eggplant (aubergine), not a common ingredient in traditional Mexican food, is now appearing in modern Mexican cuisine. Here it’s served with a sauce made with tomatillos and chipotle chillies in adobo sauce. Both are sold in cans and widely available where Mexican ingredients are sold.

Slice some eggplants lengthwise into thin slices. Season with salt and pepper and brush with oil. Cook on a barbecue or a hot griddle over medium heat until the eggplant has some colour and is soft inside. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, sauté 1 chopped onion and 2 finely diced cloves of garlic until the onion is translucent. Add 4-6 roughly chopped tomatillos (green tomatoes). Cook for a few minutes until they are softened. Transfer them to a small blender, add some fresh coriander (cilantro) stems and 1 chipotle in adobo sauce as well as some of the sauce. Blend to a suitable consistency and serve over the eggplant. Crumble fresh cheese over the top (I used goat’s cheese) and garnish with some coriander leaves. I served my eggplant with avocado dressed with salt and lime and buttered corn on the cob.

Written by michelle picker

June 5, 2019 at 12:22 am

stuffed poblanos

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Poblanos are mild chillies which originated in Puebla, Mexico. When dried they are known as ancho chillies and the fresh chillies are popular stuffed and roasted. Here’s my version.

Roast or barbecue 4-6 whole poblano chillies and 1 red pepper until they are softening and slightly charred. Meanwhile in a little oil fry 1 finely diced onion and 2 minced cloves of garlic until wilted. Add small cubes of butternut pumpkin (squash), ground cumin, dried oregano and salt to taste. Continue to cook, adding a little water if necessary, until soft. When the red pepper is soft remove the seeds, dice it finely and add it to the onions and pumpkin. Remove from the heat and add some fresh goat cheese and chopped fresh coriander (cilantro). Cut the poblano chillies in half and carefully scoop out the seeds. Lie the halves in an oven tray and fill them with the goat cheese mixture. Top them with grated cheese (something that melts easily) and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds (pepitas). Roast in a moderate oven until the seeds are browning and the filling is hot.

Written by michelle picker

April 3, 2019 at 12:18 am

chèvre omelette

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A simple dish of eggs and cheese might only take 10-15 minutes to prepare but it can still impress. This omelette highlights light and fluffy just-melted goats cheese.

Break up 1 cup of fresh chèvre, mix through 1 tablespoon of finely chopped chives and set aside. In a small frypan heat some butter with a little oil and fry 10 -12 sage leaves until crispy. Drain them on a paper towel and set aside as the garnish. Whisk 4 eggs with a little milk or cream, making sure to season them well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Over medium heat, melt a generous amount of butter and oil in a large frypan. When it’s sizzling, pour the eggs into the pan. Break any bubbles that form in the omelette and allow the egg to run through. When the egg is nearly cooked, place the chèvre onto one half and carefully fold the other half over the top. Continue to cook just long enough for the cheese to melt before sliding the omelette onto a serving plate. Garnish with the crispy sage leaves.

Written by michelle picker

July 4, 2018 at 12:29 am

Posted in cheese, eggs

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stuffed mushrooms

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Whoever said life was too short to stuff a mushroom was wrong. I love mushrooms and this recipe uses 3 types of mushrooms to make a most delicious and satisfying vegetarian meal.

For this recipe use portobello mushrooms (these are large, mature button mushrooms) with a good edge to hold the filling. For the filling finely dice some brown shallots, the stems of the portobello mushrooms and some Swiss Brown mushrooms (these are more flavoursome than button mushrooms – they look similar with a darker and slightly mottled cap). Heat some oil in a pan and fry the shallots until just wilting. Add the mushrooms and some fresh thyme leaves as well as some porcini mushroom powder for extra mushroom flavour. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until the mushrooms are softening then remove them to a bowl to cool. Add 1 egg and a generous amount of soft goat’s cheese to the mushrooms. When you’re happy with the flavour spoon the mixture into the mushrooms and place them into an oiled baking dish. Top with some finely grated parmesan or pecorino and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake in a moderate oven (along with some roasted vegetables for accompaniment) until nicely browned and well cooked.

Written by michelle picker

May 2, 2018 at 12:17 am

cooking class in Provence

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While in Provence, I took the opportunity to participate in a hands-on cooking class with chef Jean-Marc Villard at his French Cooking School. After shopping for local and organic ingredients, we returned to the specially designed teaching kitchen, where Jean-Marc guided us in preparing and cooking a traditional French meal which we later enjoyed on the terrace with the chef and his wife Alice.


We started with 2 amusebouches, a small appetiser of one or two bites which is normally selected by the chef and served before the first course, both to whet the appetite and to give a glimpse of the chef’s approach to cuisine. Our first was deep-fried zucchini flowers. These were dredged in a simple tempura batter, deep-fried in grapeseed oil and served with a fresh pesto.




The second was a fresh sardine escabeche.







Sardine fillets were laid in a flat dish (skin side down) and seasoned. Onions, garlic, carrots and peppers were sautéed in olive oil, seasoned and spread over the sardines. Finally a slightly reduced mixture of white wine, vinegar and water was poured over everything to cook the sardines. It was served garnished with fresh dill.

zucchini-saladFor the first course we started by preparing a zucchini (courgette) salad. We cut the zucchinis in half and used a mandolin to cut thin strips lengthwise. To this we added pink peppercorns (which are particularly sweet here in France), grated lemon rind, dill, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. After mixing thoroughly we set this aside in a colander. Meanwhile, the sauce was on the stove. Vanilla pods were added to some chicken stock which was then reduced by half. Be careful not to use salty chicken stock as it will become too salty when reduced. To the reduced stock we added as much butter as there was stock and a little finely chopped candied lemon rind. The sauce was then aerated using a wand mixer. Next we prepared fresh prawns (shrimp) which we seasoned and quickly pan-fried. To assemble the dish we placed some of the zucchini salad in a form ring, followed by some mixed salad leaves. The ring was removed, the prawns arranged around the salads and the sauce carefully poured around the edges without wilting the salad leaves.


For the main course, saddle of lamb. This was boned and rolled, seared on the stovetop and finished in the oven along with some fresh garlic cloves (skin on). Of course, the sauce was also reducing on the stove, this time a veal stock with fresh sage leaves.

eggplant-fillingTo accompany the lamb we stuffed large cherry tomatoes. After cutting the tops off the tomatoes and carefully scooping out the flesh and seeds, we seasoned them with salt and placed them upside down on the board, allowing any liquid to drain. The eggplants (aubergines) were cut in half lengthwise and baked (skin side up) until soft. stuffed-cherry-tomatoesIn a saucepan we sautéed very finely chopped shallots and garlic then added the chopped eggplant pulp, some finely chopped rosemary, chopped parsley, a little chickpea flour to bind and salt and pepper. We then filled the tomatoes and put the lids back on for roasting.

potato-galette-with-goat's-cheeseWe also made a typically French accompaniment, a potato galette – this one with a goat’s cheese centre. The peeled potatoes were cut into thin slices with a mandolin and placed in a bowl with melted butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper. After mixing well, making sure that every piece of potato was buttered and seasoned, we arranged 2 layers of slices around central discs, then a generous amount of goat’s cheese, followed by one more layer of potato. We then cut the edges off with a cookie cutter and transferred them to a baking sheet and into a hot oven until golden brown. Finally, the plating and voilà!


Stay tuned for dessert….

Written by michelle picker

July 9, 2016 at 5:39 am

fine dining and tomatoes

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christian-etienneProvence has the most sunshine in France which is probably why the tomatoes here are so abundant and fragrant. When I dined at Christian Etienne, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Avignon, I was excited to see a 7-course tomato menu.

Unfortunately, in my excitement, I failed to photograph the first course, a ceviche of smoked mackerel with a Black Russian tomato sauce and puffed corn. Delicious!

Next, a trio of tartare of tomatoes with basil. The yellow one made with pineapple tomatoes, the red with Beefheart tomatoes and the green with Green Zebra tomatoes. Amazing flavour.


The third course was a wonderfully prepared fillet of red mullet over an olive and coconut brandade, with cream of salted garlic, tomato foam and cherry tomatoes. I suspect the garnish might have been sprouted black onion seeds.


Next, what was called a tomalafel. This was a wonderfully crisp tomato felafel served with a sauce of olive oil, lemon and fresh mint and yes, tomatoes!


The meat course was a perfectly cooked cutlet of local lamb with an amazing jus. It was served on a tomato concasse and with an eggplant caviar and parmesan crumble.


The sixth course which (in my haste) I once again failed to photograph, was a lovely fresh chèvre (goats cheese) from the Drôme region, served with chives and Andes Horn tomato crackers.

And finally, dessert. A Pomme d’Amour (Love Apple) cooked in sugar syrup and served on a pistachio mousse with crispy puffed rice and a tomato coulis……

Pomme-d'Amouraccompanied by a Marmande tomato sorbet and caramelised pistachios.


Written by michelle picker

July 3, 2016 at 5:34 am