Cheese is a very serious business.
I am a huge fan. Check out the recipe page of this blog and you will see that a large proportion of the dishes that I am encouraging people to cook contains the stuff. Yes, most cheeses are relatively high in calories and fat – but. Choose something with good flavour and a little will go a long way. Plus, wouldn’t you rather eat a small amount of something outstandingly delicious than a huge bowl of tasteless diet pap?
(Ahem. Climbs down from soapbox).
Ethel the Goat, of the Capricorn Somerset Goats is currently encouraging food bloggers to get creative and come up with some recipes that show off her rather tasty cheese. Now, goats cheese tends to divide people but I am firmly in the love it category. It has a gloriously pungent quality that is always (to me at least) reminscent of the smell of summer farmyards, of sunshine on straw. One tweet to Ethel later and the most amazing hamper of goodies turned up on my doorstep. This is clearly a goat who takes her cooking seriously.
The cheese itself is fresh and creamy and to be honest, I was quite tempted to just smear it on some crusty bread and leave it at that. But that would not make for the most exciting of challenge entries. So I’ve come up with a few different ideas, the first of which revisits an old friend.
One of the things I wanted to cook was a real classic – a red onion and goats cheese tart. I sometimes find when I eat this that the onion component can be a little too sweet and jammy. So I looked back at the first ever recipe I posted on this blog – pissaladiere. This is an onion tart where the sweetness of the onions, tomato and balsamic vinegar are whacked around the chops with an intensely savoury garlic and anchovy hit. I had a feeling that sliced goats cheese melted on top would be absolutely delicious. I was right.
You’ll find when you make this that the amount of topping looks a little meagre. Don’t be tempted to increase it – there are some serious flavours in there so definitely a case of less being more.
125g puff pastry
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g (half a small can) tinned tomatoes
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
22g (half a small can) tinned anchovies
100g Capricorn Somerset goats cheese, thinly sliced
Serves 2, 15 pro points per person
Preheat the oven to 220˚C unless you are preparing the onion mixture in advance.
In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and then stew the onions, covered, over a low heat for about half an hour until they are wilted and golden. A pinch of salt in with the onions will help them release moisture and sweat. You might need to give them the occasional stir to ensure that they don’t catch.
Add the thyme, one of the garlic cloves, the tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar. Turn the heat up slightly and let the sauce reduce down for about 5 minutes.
Drain the anchovies on kitchen paper to remove excess oil and then pound them up with the remaining garlic clove. When the sauce is reduced, remove it from the heat and stir through the garlic and anchovy mixture.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry into a rough square shape. Spread on the onion mixture leaving a small 2cm margin around the outside which you can then fold in to make a crust. Top with the slices of goats cheese (resisting the urge to swipe one or two for yourself).
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes until the pastry is puffy and golden. This is best eaten warm rather than hot, so leave to cool for 5-10 mins if you can manage it. Gorgeous served with a simple dressed salad.