- Food & Drink
Last year, just before the snow and Christmas whipped time up into a muffled frenzy, I went to an event hosted by Easy Cheesey Chèvre, a campaign devoted to asking: “Have you considered having some French goat’s cheese with that?”
If you’ve ever wanted to buy French goat’s cheese but held back because you didn’t know the difference between fresh goat’s cheese and mature goat’s cheese (rind and texture), or what wine to drink with it (crémant and champagne), or whether it’s the right time of year to eat goat’s cheese (it’s always French goat’s cheese time), then worry no more. Easy Cheesey Chèvre can answer your questions and stop you dithering in front of the chiller cabinet.
Or in the cheese room, if you happen to shop at La Fromagerie, who provided the cheese for the evening’s tasting. La Fromagerie’s range of goat’s cheeses is testament to the French goat’s commitment to lactation and the French cheese maker’s determination to do something marvellous with that milk. Hit of the evening for me was Cabécou du Rochamadour – a squashed round of velvety cheese that begs to be mashed onto a crispbread and devoured.
My mind abuzz, I went home to consider the possibilities. First, I thought about making a custardy goat’s cheese tart with figs and a walnut crust, but that required an event and a crowd of people. I lacked both of those, so I settled on baklava – combining my already acknowledged addiction to sugar with my burgeoning craving for goat’s cheese.
The assistant at La Fromagerie recommended Crottin de Chavignol for baking with figs and oranges and, eaten on the day it’s made, this baklava is light and tastes citrussy with a hint of lingering lactic muskiness. Matured for a few days and the flavours mingled, the goat’s cheese becoming both more obvious and less clinging. A piece or 2 (or 4) with a cup of coffee makes a good end to a meal.
Fig, walnut and goat’s cheese baklava
Makes 20 squares
3 cardamom pods
200g walnuts halves
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
100g dried, ready-to-eat figs, finely chopped
80g goat’s cheese, such as Crottin de Chavignol, finely chopped
2 tbsp caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, melted
10 sheets filo pastry
200g caster sugar
3 tbsp clear honey
1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C. Bash the cardamom pods with a pestle to break them open. Discard the green papery skins and grind the seeds to a fine powder.
2 Blitz the walnuts in a food processor to coarsely chop. Stir in the cardamom, orange zest and juice, dried figs, goat’s cheese and caster sugar.
3 Brush a 20cm square cake tin with melted butter. Slice the filo pastry sheets into squares so they’ll fit the tin. Brush 1 sheet of filo with butter, cover with another sheet of filo. Repeat until you have layered 5 sheets of filo on top of each other. Lay in the bottom of the cake tin and spoon the nut mixture over the filo.
4 Cover the nut mix with another 5 sheets of filo, brushed with butter. Slice the baklava with a knife to make 20 squares. Brush the top with butter and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
5 Meanwhile, make the honey syrup. Combine the sugar, honey and water in a pan and gently heat, stirring, until liquid. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.
6 Take the baklava out of the oven and pour over the syrup. Leave to cool in the tin. When cold, slice into squares. Store an airtight tub in the fridge. Eat within a couple of weeks.