Saturday, 5 May 2012

Salad of Home Made Goats' Milk Cheese, Tomatoes, Fresh Peas and Mâche


I think the French do a stellar job when it comes to dairy products.  The sheer quantity and variety they produce is astounding and lucky for us they're available everywhere you go.  Even in the tiniest corner store in the tiniest villages and in the truck stops en route to them have a fine selection on offer.

Personally, I never drink milk unless it's poured into a hot cuppa or frothed and added to my Caffè Orzo but I'm always up for tasting anything at least once. For years now, I've been buying fresh milk from Mr Gaborit for hubby's cappuccino to great applause so when I saw Mr Gaborit's new Lait frais de chèvre or fresh goats' milk, I thought I'd give it a go.

Mr Gaborit's organic farm is in Maulévrier in the Maine et Loire Prefecture in the north west of France near Nantes and it's here where he raises his mostly free range goats, cows, and sheep.  His milk is pasteurized but not homogenized, which may explain the extraordinary taste:  sweet, buttery, clean, and creamy.  It makes commercial milk taste bitter and diluted by comparison.

Even though his cows' milk is demi-écrémé or partly skimmed, it tastes and acts like full fat milk.  When you first open a new container there's always a luxurious plug of cream on the top.  I read with delight on the label:  "shake to mix in the cream,"  just like in the good old days.

Call me crazy but the first thing that came to mind after tasting the goats' milk was how good it would taste as a fresh cheese. Luckily, fresh cheese is surprisingly quick and easy to make so off I went.

You can use this recipe to make cheese with any fresh goat milk available where you are or if you can't find goats' milk, you can substitute fresh, full fat cows' milk.  Moo!

Salad of Home Made Goat Cheese, 
Tomatoes, Fresh Peas and Mâche

Succulent, intense Merinda Tomatoes.  If you can find them, use them
Makes 2 servings

Large sieve or colander
Fine meshed sieve
Salad spinner


For the fresh cheese:
4 1/4 cups (1 litre) fresh goats' milk
1 tablespoon  plus one teaspoon (18g) plain white vinegar
1 tablespoon water
A pinch of granulated sugar

For the salad:
1/4 cup fruity olive oil
1 cup (15g) fresh basil leaves
Fleur de sel or sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3-4 small Merinda tomatoes, sliced or cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cups (40g) Mâche
1/2 (75g) cup fresh peas, (about 150g in their pods)
2 tablespoons (16g) pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves, finely chopped
Fleur de sel
Freshly ground pepper


1. Wash and spin the mâche.  Put it in the fridge to crisp up. While you're there, put your serving plates in the fridge too.

Drained curd, ready to be pressed and chilled
2. Make the fresh goat cheese.  Line a sieve with two layers of cheesecloth.  Rinse a large sauce pan with water and leave about 1 tablespoon of water in the pan.  Add the milk and the pinch of sugar.  On high heat, bring the milk to a boil and as soon as begins to rise in the pan turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar.  Let it sit, undisturbed for about 30 seconds, then pour it through your cheese cloth lined sieve.  Once the liquid has drained you'll be left with the curd.  Gather together the cheesecloth and form the bundle into a square or rectangle. Place it on a plate, weigh it down with another plate and place in the fridge to chill and firm up.

3.  Prepare the basil oil.  Bring some unsalted water to a boil and toss in the basil.  stir gently, count to 20 and drain.  Lay the basil out on a clean tea towel or paper towels.  Roll gently to dry.  Place the basil and the 1/4 cup olive oil in a blender and blend on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl or measuring cup, press out as much of the oil as you can.  Set the oil aside.

4.  Boil the fresh peas in salted water for one minute.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place an ice bath.   After they're cold, drain them and set them aside.

5.  Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and slice into any shape you wish.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss the mâche with half of the basil oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and the chopped lemon thyme. Divide the mâche between the two plates, top with the sliced tomatoes, peas and cheese.  Drizzle with the remaining basil oil.  Sprinkle on the pine nuts, a bit of fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.

1.  Don't leave the milk on the stove unattended.  It boils over in an instant and trust me, it'll make a big mess.
2.  I didn't remove the skin from the tomatoes but you certainly can.  It would add a more refined note to your salad. To do so, cover them with boiling water for 30 seconds or dip them into boiling water then plunge them into ice water and leave them there for 5 minutes.  Peel, slice.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Looks like summertime on a plate! I can't wait for juicy, ripe local tomatoes... It seems like a far-off dream right now.