St. Tola goat. PHOTOS BY MARGARET M. JOHNSON
Ireland Hopping / By Margaret M. Johnson
Did you know August is National Goat Cheese Month? Frankly, I didn’t, but a friend who follows a “National Day Calendar” that celebrates foods on a monthly and daily basis reminded me to promote goat cheese before I’m too late. No problem, as I’ve enjoyed goat cheese countless time during my visits to Ireland and particularly love St. Tola, a luscious goat cheese made in County Clare. Here are a few recipes from my archives that feature it.
GRILLED GOAT CHEESE TOASTS WITH PORT AND CRANBERRY SAUCE
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MAKES 12 TOASTS
This recipe is popular as an hors d’oeuvres (without the salad) or as a starter (with the greens). The sauce is also delicious with turkey and ham.
For the sauce
1 1/4 cups port
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 cups cranberries
For the toasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces St. Tola goat cheese
Mixed salad greens
4 tablespoons chopped pecans
- Make sauce. In a medium saucepan, bring port and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they begin to burst. Remove from heat; let cool
- Make toasts. Heat broiler. Slice bread diagonally into 12 slices and brush one side with oil. Arrange bread on a baking sheet and toast, about 4 inches from heat source, for about 1 minute, or until lightly browned. Turn bread over and spread with cheese. Return to broiler and grill for about 1 minute longer, or until cheese is warm and lightly browned.
- Arrange salad on six plates and top with two toasts. Drizzle with the warm sauce and sprinkle with pecans.
BEET SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE
It seems that all the world has discovered the ying and yang of goat cheese and beets. If you can find multi-colored beets, use them for a pretty presentation.
For the beets
2 to 3 medium beets
Olive oil, for roasting
Ground black pepper
For the salad
- Mixed greens with arugula
4 ounces goat cheese, cut into slices
Oil and vinegar, for drizzling
- Make beets. Preheat oven to 375° F. Trim and wash beets and place on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap beets. Rub with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Wrap to form a pouch and roast for 55 to 60 minutes, or until tender when pierced with tip of a knife. (Roasting times will vary depending on size of beets).
- Remove beets from oven, and when cool enough to handle, rub skin away with a piece of paper towel or foil. (To prevent staining your hands, use rubber gloves). Slice beets and then cut into 1/2-inch cubes. In a small bowl, toss beets with olive oil.
- To serve, arrange salad on plates and toss with cheese. Drizzle with oil and vinegar or your favorite vinaigrette.
GOAT CHEESE MOUSSE ON CROSTINI
If you can, form the mousse into egg-shaped quenelles; if not, simply spoon the mousse onto the crostini.
For the mousse
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons milk
4 ounces soft goats cheese
Sliced beets, for serving
Crostini, for serving
Fresh tarragon, for garnish
Ground black pepper, for topping
- Make mousse. In a medium bowl, whip cream to soft peaks. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and goat cheese; fold into whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
- Prepare beets as in previous recipe.
- To serve, scoop out 1 tablespoon of mousse, and with another tablespoon, smooth and form it into an egg shape. Top each crostini with a quenelle, a slice of beet, and garnish with tarragon. Sprinkle with pepper.
Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page now includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, including how to order her cookbooks, visit www.irishcook.com.