There are several local goat cheese vendors at every Farmers Market around here. I imagine this is because it's one of the less complicated cheeses to make; there's no pressing or aging involved, no complicated cocktail of cultures, it's just a nice simple farm fresh cheese. Also, goats are notoriously hilarious company.
I love a fresh cheese. I haven't made my own goat cheese yet, but I regularly grab some Mill-King low-temperature pasteurized whole milk and make ricotta (I use Smitten Kitchen's recipe). As heinously pretentious as it sounds, you haven't even had ricotta until you've had homemade. Smeared on crusty bread with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, sprinkle of Maldon salt… yeah, Mama's gonna have to make some ricotta this week.
But this post is about goat cheese. Yesterday my cute husband and I popped into Green Grocer (on their birthday! Happy birthday, good buddies!) to drop off some of our lovely carrots and grab a few things. The place was bumpin'! I love to see that. While shopping we ran into Paul from On Pure Ground Dairy located in Bonham, just up the road from us. When I admitted I hadn't yet tried his cheeses he insisted I go grab one, on him. An offer I couldn't refuse!
Although he produces all kinds of lovely-sounding flavors like sun-dried tomato & basil and peaches & cream, I had to start with plain. Paul said one of his customers once exclaimed, "This cheese is divine," hence the name. The packaging is ridiculously cute (my weakness) and I love that it's so minimal, there's hardly any waste.
It deserved a decent vehicle upon which to enter my face, and what vehicle is more delicious than fresh bread? I usually use the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method, but I really don't like using it right away; in my experience it needs to be aged in the fridge at least a day (longer is better) and used cold or it's just a big mess. I'll make a batch and leave it in the fridge for weeks, baking off hunks of it here and there whenever it's Bread Time. My other favorite, Jim Lahey's no-knead bread, has to rise overnight, so no dice there either. I turned to ol' reliable How to Cook Everything for a quick bread recipe.
Truthfully, I prefer the loaves made by the other two methods above, but if don't have any dough in the fridge or haven't prepped ahead, this is still way better than a grocery store loaf.
But back to the cheese, the cheese is glorious! So very thick and creamy. I'm not afraid of a little funk in my goat, but this one is quite mild, just the right amount of tang to please a goat cheese lover without scaring off the less passionate. Really delicious. Hat's off, Paul! I've half the disc left… shall I whip a little roasted beet and goat cheese salad? Or maybe try these little grilled goat cheese sandwiches with the fig preserves from my mother-in-law's kitchen?
Fast French Bread, from How to Cook Everything
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I like Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp salt
scant tsp instant yeast
Combine the ingredients in a food processor. With the machine running, pour about a 1/2 cup of warm water through the feed tube. Continue processing and adding a little more water at a time until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a ball. Cloak it (if you like, and I do like), toss into a bowl, roll with a little olive oil to coat, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. I certainly hope you have a baking or pizza stone in there. If not, get one and just leave it on the bottom rack all the time, it won't bother anything. I also hope you own a peel. If you bake any bread or pizza at all, I recommend investing in one and you'll find yourself using it all the time. I have this guy. Anyway, when the oven is hot, dust the front edge of the peel with a little flour, pull the dough out of the bowl and plop it onto the flour. Slash the top a few times if you like. Slide it onto the stone and bake about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature (I just use a meat thermometer) has reached 210 degrees.