Adopt-A-Goat and Charred Goat Cheese Salad

Adopt-A-Goat and Charred Goat Cheese Salad

Charred Goat Cheese Salad
Fennel, Cantaloupe, Cucumber
Smoky Chile Walnuts, Charred Parsley Vinaigrette
Mustard Flowers, Watercress, Mint, Cilantro

I adopted a goat. I named her Miss Chèvre Chaud. She’s a gentle soul who devours mustard plant with wild abandon and is deliriously happy to munch on wild fennel.

For the past several years, hundreds of goats like her have been employed to graze on non-native weeds as part of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy restoration project.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy’s Adopt-A-Goat program supports their effort to turn the weedy hillsides into native coastal sage scrub and grassland habitats – supporting threatened and endangered plants and wildlife, such as the California gnatcatcher and cactus wren.

Goats are an ecologically sound, cost-effective, and efficient means of habitat restoration. As a bonus, their droppings provide a natural top-soil fertilizer. The goats make very little noise, leave no trash, and are a charming addition to the community for the time they spend with us.

Invasive Plants: Mustard and Fennel

Invasive non-native plants while pretty to look at, and pretty tasty to eat…cause damage to the ecosystem by crowding out and reducing native plant species ultimately reducing shelter and food for native animal species.

These non-native plants tend to have shallow root systems which do little to help with soil stabilization on the hilly slopes. And both mustard and fennel grow quite tall, unfortunately blocking out necessary sunlight for native species.

Native of Europe, black mustard Brassica nigra, is an annual plant that covers the Peninsula after the winter rains. It sprouts easy and densely, so as to crowd out the native plants that are home to native birds. It is short-lived, so when the plant dies the dried stalks remain standing and present a significant fire hazard.

Native of Southern Europe, fennel Foeniculum vulgare is another invasive species that grows in dense thickets and crowds out native species. When the fennel plants die in late summer, the dried stems remain standing and can be fuel for wildfires.

Savory Fruit Salad with Goat Cheese

This delicious savory fruit salad was created to showcase Miss Chèvre Chaud’s affection for reducing our local mustard and fennel (aka goat-candy) population while promoting fresh cheese made from goat’s milk.

To highlight the good work Miss CC and her team do to clear the hillsides and reduce wildfire danger…the salad has three charred elements; charred parsley vinaigrette, charred/caramelized goat cheese, and smoky walnuts. Simultaneously the mustard flowers do indeed taste like yellow mustard and add a punchy savory note to the salad.

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Chèvre Chaud Salad, Limoncello Dressing

Chèvre Chaud with Grape Arugula Salad, Limoncello Dressing
Chèvre Chaud over a Salad of  Arugula, Grapes, and Marcona Almonds
Limoncello Rosemary Dressing

How did this fall off my radar? Often, I would serve a Salade de Chèvre Chaud at dinner parties. It’s been years  – but now, fried goat cheese back. This time with arugula, grapes, marcona almonds, and a zippy limoncello rosemary dressing.

Food Network is featuring grapes this week, so I was thinking about foods that might pair well: goat cheese, almonds, lemon, rosemary, arugula, alcohol… Alcohol? Yes – like wine, cognac, brandy, rum. How about limoncello? The dressing is bold, lemony, and definitely zippy.  It adds unexpected character and balances the rich fried cheese. All the ingredients just came together and voilà – this bodacious “adult” salad was born.

Chèvre Chaud Recipe

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Kristy’s Chèvre Chaud Salad

Chèvre Chaud
Mixed Baby Lettuces, Teardrop Tomatoes
Chopped Hard Boiled Egg, Toasted Pinenuts
Dijon Vinaigrette

Kristy’s Table Setting
Last May we traveled to Paris to celebrate my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday. And recently I went to visit my family in Chicago. Of course we had to get together and have a dinner party with “the gang who went to Paris for Kristy’s birthday weekend.” And I was more than happy to be the chef.

PARIS REUNION
Le Menu

Pommery Brut Champagne
Starter
parmigiano-reggiano
toasted buttered baguette
Salade
“Kristy’s Salad”
chevre chaud, mixed lettuces, toasted pinenuts, 
hard cooked egg, teardrop tomatoes
dijon vinaigrette
Puligny Montrachet 2006 Domaine Carillon 
Plat Principal
wild mushroom agnolotti
pinor nior veal stock reduction
fried sage
Domaine Serene “Evenstad Reserve” 2006 Pinot Noir
Le Dessert

a drizzle of honey
whipped crème fraîche

Kristy’s  Chèvre Chaud Salad

Form goat cheese into medallions and refrigerate. Dip chilled goat cheese medallion in a beaten egg, then in panko breadcrumbs. Fry in hot peanut oil turning once. When the breadcrumbs are golden, transfer to paper towel. Season with sea salt.

My favored Dijon Vinaigrette comes from Jacques Pepin:

  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 3 Tbs Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 c red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 c extra virgin olive oil
I also a 2 tsp minced shallot.
Put all ingredients in a jar, screw on the lid, and shake very well.

This salad is named for my sister-in-law Kristy. Several years ago I made this salad for her and it became one of her favorites. Now, like enjoying a Chicago-style hot dog or having lunch at Joe’s Stone Crab, this salad is also one of our culinary traditions. I make it every time I come to town.

French Goat Cheese – Cheese of the Month

Goat Cheese Katsu Salad
Soba Noodle, Edamame, Spring Greens 
Creamy Sesame & Sweet Soy Dressing

Goat Cheese Katsu:

Dip chilled goat cheese medallion in egg white, then in panko breadcrumb/black sesame seed mixture. Fry in hot peanut oil until golden, transfer to paper towel. Season with sea salt.

Soba Noodles with Edamame:

Toss cooked chilled soba (buckwheat) noodles, edamame (shelled boiled green soy bean) and sliced scallions with dressing.

Creamy Sesame & Sweet Soy Dressing:

Heat ½ c. each low-sodium soy sauce and mirin (rice wine) in a sauce pan, with 1 t. each minced garlic and ginger. Reduce by half. Add honey to taste. Let cool then mix with 1/4 c. tahini (sesame seed paste).

Assemble Goat Cheese Katsu Salad:

Place baby leaf spring greens on a platter, drizzle with dressing. Place soba noodles alongside the spring greens, top with warm Goat Cheese Katsu medallion.

I used the delicious Ile de France Goat Cheese. It is an indulgent, fresh, tangy, snowy white rich cheese made from milk of goats grazing in the French Alps. Looking for ideas for the next time you serve goat cheese? There are many creative cheese recipes in the Ile de France Spring Follies here.

The inspiration for this cheese served with an Asian-style twist came from my favorite local restaurant, Gina Lee’s Bistro, owned by my dear friends Scott & Gina Lee. They serve a delicious Chicken Katsu over Soba Noodles with Asian Vegetables. And if you are a fan of chèvre chaud you might enjoy this pumpkin seed crusted version as well.

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Goat Cheese, Fall Salad

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Goat Cheese
Roasted Beets
Green Salad with Pepitas and Walnuts
Pumpkin Seed Oil Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted/salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are ground in a food processor then mixed with panko breadcrumbs.

A peppered goat cheese medallion is dipped in egg then coated with the pumpkin seed breadcrumb mixture.

The medallion is fried in peanut oil until golden, then transferred to a paper towel while the salad is composed. Sprinkle the hot medallion with a little sea salt.

Combine equal amounts of pumpkin seed oil and walnut oil with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt & pepper for the dressing. Toss with mixed greens, roasted pepitas, walnuts, then serve with roasted beets. 
Another tasty salad using this walnut oil can be found here. This pumpkin seed oil is from the Styrian region of Austria. I seem to be on an Austrian kick lately, first with my new favorite wine,  Grüner Veltliner and now this oil. And if you visit Merisi’s blog, I’m sure you will fall in love with Austria too. 

I am submitting this dish to Lore of Culinarty blog for her Original Recipes ongoing event. I’ve made Chèvre Chaud many times but never used pumpkin seed as a coating. Very happy with the result. 
Have you tried pumpkin seed oil? I just recently found it at the market and would be interested to hear how you are using it. A terrific product for Fall, I’m excited to experiment. La Tourangelle’s website has a recipe using pumpkin seed oil with salmon sashimi. Hmmm