Baked Goat Cheese
One of the many things I will always be indebted to my friend Porter for is his recipe for Baked Goat Cheese. This delicious appetizer was a standby in his kitchen and quickly became one of mine. Always the showman, Porter would often bake his goat cheese in an 18th-century roof tile from Provence. Even though I still have a couple roof tiles floating around from my days of hanging out on the set of his TV show, I generally opt for a more modest approach (a gratin dish or a cazuela works great). Whatever you decide to bake it in, I promise it will be consumed quickly.
I love goat cheese; it is truly a versatile cheese. Just putting out a log of unadorned goat cheese with some crackers is usually enough to make everyone happy. However, why stop there when with a little effort you can create something truly memorable. Baking it with some goodies on top from your well-stocked pantry kicks it up a notch. The great thing about this dish is that it can be prepared quickly and with only a moment’s notice. So take some advice from Porter: in addition to stocking roof tiles in your kitchen, keep a little goat cheese on hand. Along with a few other staples like olives, artichoke hearts, and capers you will be good to go.
Last fall in Seattle at IFBC, I was introduced to a great goat cheese from ‘Redwood Hill Farm’ just north of the city in Sonoma. They make some great rind cheeses, but what you want for this dish is their Fresh Chèvre. It comes in a plain version as well as a Three Peppercorn, Roasted Chile, or Garlic Chive flavor. I like the plain version because I plan on adding my own flavors. My ‘go-to’ basic baked goat cheese consists of olives, artichoke hearts, capers, and garlic, but the sky is the limit when coming up with other flavor combinations. After preparing the Baked Goat Cheese that we used for this post, Paul and I sat down over cocktails and brainstormed some other great variations as we polished off the entire dish. Just a sample of some of the ideas we came up with were:
- Sun-dried Tomato, Mushroom, and Shallots
- Black Fig, Prosciutto, and Walnut
- Green Chile, Jalapeño, and Chorizo
It occurred to us while we were brainstorming that almost anything would be good baked on top of some goat cheese. While I usually stick with my time-tested combination of Kalamata olives, marinated artichokes and stuffed green olives, any number of combinations will work well. I am also crazy about salt, so I like some grey salt (sel gris) on top, but the olives and capers might be briny enough for you, so I will leave that one up to you.
- 8 ounces of Redwood Hill Farm Chèvre
- ⅓ cup mixed chopped pitted olives (Kalamata, green, stuffed, etc.…)
- ⅓ cup drained and chopped artichoke hearts
- 1-tablespoon capers
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sel gris (coarse grey sea salt)
- Spread the cheese loosely into the bottom of an ovenproof dish to a depth of around ½ to ¾ of and inch. Combine the olives, artichokes, capers, and garlic together and spread over the goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sel gris or other coarse salt to taste. Bake uncovered in a 350° oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the top and edges have slightly started to brown and the top is nice and bubbly. Serve immediately with sliced baguette, crackers, or pita.
Redwood Hill Farm http://www.redwoodhill.com
International Food Blogging Conference (IFBC) http://www.foodista.com/ifbc