Several years ago, I was driving home from the grocery store and had two of my three boys in the backseat. The boys were about 11 and 8 years old. We had purchased all the necessary ingredients for one of our favorite salads; goat cheese croutons and roasted beets. Ari, the 11-year-old, asked what he thought was a very important question: “Why do you think they call it goat cheese?” Important questions aside, goat cheese is an excellent ingredient and can form the basis of many dishes.
Many of the soft goat’s milk cheeses have a texture similar to cream cheese. I like to spread this cheese on crusty baguettes and top it with a little bit of chopped kalamata olives or tapenade and flash it under the broiler to get it all gooey and delicious. While the texture and appearance is similar to cream cheese, goat’s milk cheese has a soft tangy flavor that is complex.
Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Croutons
The tanginess of the goat cheese really complements the earthy qualities of the beets. Try this salad as a starter to a dairy meal or as a light lunch with friends for Shavuot.
1 large red beet
1 large golden beet
4 ounces of goat cheese
1/3 cup of unflavored bread crumbs-use Panko* if available (Japanese bread crumbs, or favorite variety)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
About 1/3 cup flour for breading the cheese
4 cups baby greens
1 red onion –sliced very thinly
1 cup sliced strawberries
Red Wine-Walnut vinaigrette (see below)
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350. Wrap the beets in foil and roast in the oven until easily pierced with a knife (about 1 hour). This can be done several days ahead of serving the salad.
2. Peel the beets and refrigerate.
3. Cut the goat cheese into coin shapes (about 1 ounce each coin). Place the coins in the freezer for about 30 minutes until firm and easy to handle.
4. Mix the herbs and the breadcrumbs together on a small plate. Salt and pepper as needed. Place the flour on a small plate.
5. Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil.
6. Dredge a cheese coin in the flour. Then dip it into the beaten egg. Finally, dip the cheese into the bread crumbs. Place the cheese in the sauté pan and brown it on each side (about 2 minutes per side). Transfer the cheese to a paper towel lined plate. Continue with remaining cheese.
7. Toss the greens with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper as desired.
8. Slice the beets into julienne or wedges. Mound the greens on four plates or a serving platter. Place the beets, red onion and strawberries on top. Place the cheese croutons on top of the salad and drizzle with vinaigrette.
Red Wine-Walnut Vinaigrette
Walnuts, beets and goat cheese are best friends and are made to go together.
The earthy beets mix with the soft-sweet walnut oil and the tangy goat cheese goes with everything. Make a double batch of this vinaigrette and keep it in the refrigerator anytime you want to drizzle over roasted vegetables.
½ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
Kosher salt and pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup toasted walnut oil
1. Whisk all of the ingredients together and store, covered in the refrigerator.
Almond-Darjeeling Tea Cake
I thought I would take the term Tea Cake literally and use my favorite Darjeeling tea in the recipe. The result is a delicately flavored cake with hints of floral tea, almond and vanilla. I garnish my tea cake with freshly whipped cream and gorgeous berries.
This fragrant tea cake is a quick and easy do-ahead recipe, perfect for Shavuot. The cake can be baked ahead of serving and frozen for up to 1 month.
1/2 cup Whole milk
2 tablespoons loose Darjeeling tea leaves
7 ounces Almond Paste,
1 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces butter, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Heat the milk and tea leaves until the milk is steaming. Turn off the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain out the tea leaves. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
3. Using an electric mixer set on a medium speed, beat grated Almond Paste, sugar and butter until well mixed.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat on high until light and fluffy.
5. Sift the flour with the baking powder and add to batter alternately with milk. Beat on low until just combined and smooth. Do not over-mix, or cake will be tough.
6. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 75 minutes or until an inserted toothpick pulls out clean.
7. Cool cake, still in pan, on wire rack for 5 minutes. Un-mold carefully and finish cooling on rack before cutting.
8. Garnish with freshly whipped cream and berries.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.