Skagit Food Co-op blog:

the Cheese Whisperer

Cheese Whisperer: Go for Goat

Plenty of Americans love goat cheese. Although it may be less popular than cow milk cheese, folks are fans of goat cheese in its many forms. The Co-op carries several types of natural and organic goat cheese, made without additives or preservatives.

The art of making goat cheese goes back a long way. Many scholars theorize goat cheese originated in the Eastern Mediterranean thousands of years ago. From there it spread into Spain and France, and eventually, the rest of the world.

Honey & Goat Cheese Filled Muffins

The taste of goat’s milk cheese is grassy, tangy and often sweet and herbal. Goat cheese flavors range from delicate to pungent, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Textures of goat cheese delight as silky and creamy to crumbly and semi-firm. Often  sold fresh, goat cheese can be aged or marinated with herbs or peppers.

Enjoy goat cheese in every meal of the day. From breakfast dishes like Goat Cheese and Bell Pepper Omelette to lunch Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese to dessert Honey & Goat Cheese Filled Muffins.

Goat-ables: Notable Goat Cheeses

Check out the selection of goat cheese at the Co-op’s Specialty Cheese Island. We stock a range of styles, from imported soft ripened Bucherondin – round slices tangy, multi-textured goat-y goodness; to mild, firm Goat Cheddar to extra aged Cypress Grove Midnight Moon, a 1 year+ aged firm slice-able Gouda. And so much more!

One of our best sellers is chèvre, a creamy, snow white blossom of spreadable, fresh goat cheese. Add crumbled chèvre to salads, nachos, pizza or serve over roasted vegetables or soup. Now is a great time to try it – Sonoma fresh Laura Chenel Goat Chèvre 10 oz logs are on sale now for $7.99 ea, reg $10.99.

Early types of feta cheese were originally made from goat and sheep milk. Add the lemony tangy of goat feta to a Greek salad. Try Sierra Nevada Cheese’s rich and crumbly Goat Feta or Mt. Vikos authentic Greek Feta, made with goat and sheep milk.

Cheese makers get creative with goat milk. Take for example of the most famous and recognizable artisan soft-ripened goat cheese: Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog. Beautiful on a cheese plate, this cheese is known for its fudgy layers, separated by earthy vegetable ash. Also keep an eye out for world-famous, caramel-sweet brown Norwegian Ekte Gjetost.

Notes on Nutrition

Goat cheese is different from cow milk cheese in several ways. When compared to many cow’s milk products, like cream cheese, goat cheese is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol. Its appearance is pure white, due to the way goats convert beta carotene directly to vitamin A (47% more than cow milk). Goat’s milk also contains 13% more calcium, 25% more vitamin B6 and 134% more potassium than regular cow milk. Goat milk is naturally homogenized and is considered more easily digestible than cow dairy.

Tips for caring for goat cheese: Limit exposure to air, it will cause cheese to dry out. Keep pieces wrapped tightly in wax paper or containers. Store at 40°F in the refrigerator. Once opened, use goat cheese within 7 days.

Goat Cheese in the Kitchen

Use goat cheese the same way you would use cow milk cheese. Add slices of goat milk cheddar to grilled cheese sandwiches. Treat chèvre similar to fresh mozzarella – serve it simply on salads, with sliced tomatoes or for dessert with fruit.

Grilled Apricots with Chèvre

Photo & recipe from strongertogether.coop

Serve this dish as an appetizer with a bed of arugula. For dessert drizzle with honey and spiced pecans.

Ingredients:

  • 4 apricots, halved and pitted
  • 4 ounces soft chèvre
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil to brush the apricot halves

Directions:

Preheat the grill over medium heat. In the microwave or in a small saucepan, gently heat the honey, orange juice, and tarragon. Stir well and set aside.

Brush each apricot half with a little canola oil and sprinkle with salt. Place apricots cut side down on the grill for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the apricots over and reduce the heat to low. Brush each apricot halve with the honey mixture (save any unused honey mixture to serve with the finished apricots). Top each apricot half with 1/2 oz. of goat cheese. Close the grill lid and let the cheese melt for a couple of minutes. Serve with a drizzle of the remaining honey mixture.

Fig, Honey & Goat Cheese Pizza

Photo & recipe from strongertogether.coop

This pizza is a lovely mix of sweet and savory, and showcases the Mediterranean flavors of figs and tangy cheese. If you are looking for some nibbles to serve alongside wine or sparkling cider, make a few of these – they’ll be a hit!

Ingredients:

  • 4 small naan breads or pitas (or try Third Street Cafe pizza dough)
  • 8 large fresh or dried, moist figs
  • 1 teaspoon red wine (if using dried figs)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 6 ounces crumbled chèvre
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme sprigs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the naan or pita breads on a sheet pan and reserve. Slice the figs across the fruit, making rounds. If you are using dried figs, and they seem dry, put them in a small bowl and sprinkle with the wine. Let soak for ten minutes.

Drain any remaining wine and distribute the fig slices on top of the naan. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with pepper, then top with crumbled chèvre and thyme.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the bread is crisp on the bottom and the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.