I’m hooked on this smooth, soft yet slightly tangy cheese. “Le chèvre” is the french translation for goat cheese while the feminine version of the word “la chèvre” simply means goat.
So back I went to the market for more beautiful hydroponically grown basil, some shallots, and a log of goat cheese and this very simple tart was ready to be made. I love this easy recipe..... after sautéing your shallots and spreading them onto your pre-baked tart shell, you simply dump the ingredients for the filling in your food processor and then pour it into the shell and bake. It's great to have a "quickie" in the repertoire. This tart really showcases the goat cheese while letting the flavor of the basil shine through. These two flavors compliment each other very nicely. Serve with a green salad and you have a simple yet sophisticated meal. I think a chilled Sancerre (the Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire valley of France) would be an excellent accompaniment to this tart, especially if your goat cheese happens to come from the Loire as well.
For all you foodies and/or francophiles out there, I highly recommend the book A Pig in Provence by Georgeanne Brennan. In the first chapter titled "A personal History of Goat Cheese" this talented story teller vividly describes how she and her husband set out to raise goats and make goat cheese in Provence during the 1970's, 20 years before the artisanal food boom hit the United States.
To make goat cheese you basically milk the goats, add rennet or another acid such as vinegar or lemon juice to curdle the milk, let it curdle overnight, ladle the curds into molds. The next day, turn the cheeses, and the day after, turn them again and salt them. On the fourth day, they are ready. Ms. Brennan once said that making goat cheese is a simple process, but mastering it is very difficult. Upon comparing a good chèvre with a bad one, I think you will agree.
Bonne Année! As the "man-tini" illustrates, we were at a super fun new years party at our good friends, Mick and Diane's home. I wish you all, dear readers, a truly happy and healthy 2011!
Tarte au Chèvre
2 large shallots - sautéed until soft
10 ounce log of goat cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 recipe pâte brisée -basic short pastry (pre-baked in a 10" tart pan) see below
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spread the sautéed shallots evenly onto the pre-baked tart shell
Put 3/4 of the goat cheese log into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Carefully pour the batter into the tart shell. Chop the remaining 1/4 of the goat cheese log and then sprinkle on top of the filling. Place tart into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the top of the tart is a golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pâte Brisée - basic pastry dough
I use this basic dough recipe for most of my savoy tarts. This dough freezes well so I like to make this dough in a double batch when at home and freeze the other one for later use if I'm not using it right away. I figure if you're going to the effort to make pastry dough then you might as well make two... so this recipe is a double. Remember, the key to a successful and flakey crust is to work quickly and keep the dough cold. You want the butter to remain in little pea sized balls throughout the dough for a flakey crust.
300 grams flour (2 cups) I like to weigh my flour for more accuracy
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter - chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons ice water
In a food processor add the flour and salt and pulse until combined. Add the chopped butter and pulse until the butter is in small pea sized balls. Add the water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
Put the dough out to a floured surface and make into a large mound and cut in half with a pastry scraper. I like to weigh the halves so that they are equal. Put each half onto a square of wax paper and form into a disk. Wrap with the paper and chill for at least one hour.
If you are freezing at this time, then wrap again in foil and freeze. Let dough defrost in the refrigerator before use.
Roll out dough on a floured surface into a 13" circle. Place dough into a 10" tart pan and fold the overhang inward and press gently into the sides. Do not force or stretch the dough because a thin spot may cause the filling to leak. The dough edges should be a little bit higher than the side of the tart pan to help prevent shrinkage. Prick the bottom of the shell with your fork. Press a piece of foil (12"x13") into the edges of the shell and cover with the foil completely touching and covering the entire shell. Chill for at least a half an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Completely fill the foil covered shell with pie weights or dried beans. Put the shell into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and remove beans and foil. Brush the inside of the shell with a beaten egg white to prevent leakage from small cracks. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes and bake until golden brown. Let cool on wire rack. The shell is ready to fill.