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Say Cheese: Chevre Challenge, Part I

Marinated goat cheese medallions make for an easy appetizer. (Domenica Marchetti)

The results of my chevre challenge are in, and they are delicious.

A few weeks ago, having written about the delights of fresh goat cheese and the many ways to use it in summer, I decided to bring some friends into the mix. I gave an 8-ounce log of chevre (fresh, unripened goat cheese) to each of four friends and asked them to come up with a recipe featuring the cheese as the star ingredient. They did not disappoint. I even got a bonus recipe out of the deal when a friend of a friend contributed one, too.

You'll have to wait until next week for two of the recipes (ain't anticipation grand?), but I’m sharing three of them here. Any would make a great late-summer appetizer: a leek and goat cheese tart, submitted by my friend Carolyn; prosciutto-wrapped goat cheese-stuffed fig purses, submitted by Carolyn’s friend Erika; and marinated goat cheese medallions, submitted by my friend Anne.

Recipe Included

Carolyn happened to be organizing a goat cheese and wine tasting party when I approached her with my chevre challenge. She ended up with so many contenders (among them goat cheese croquettes and chocolate-goat cheese truffles) that it took a while for her to decide which recipe to submit. She settled on the tart (her recipe) and the stuffed figs (Erika's). I’ve tried them, and both are terrific: easy to execute but rich and delicious, making them perfect party fare.

My friend and next-door-neighbor Anne came through with her tried-and-true appetizer of marinated goat cheese medallions garnished with fresh herbs, thinly sliced garlic and lots of freshly ground black pepper, a recipe beautiful in its simplicity and in its presentation. Anne, a film buff, noted the importance of slicing the garlic paper-thin. She mentioned a memorable scene from the movie "Goodfellas," in which Paul Sorvino’s character, Paul Cicero, clad in his bathrobe and cooking in his jail cell, uses a razor blade to slice a clove of garlic into transparent slivers. A sharp paring knife will do just as well, Anne says; the bathrobe is optional.

-- Domenica Marchetti

Marinated Goat Cheese Medallions

9 servings

From Anne Burling.

1 8-ounce log fresh goat cheese, chilled for easy slicing
1 large clove garlic, sliced paper-thin
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (may substitute another herb, such as rosemary or oregano
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Slice the goat cheese crosswise into 9 medallions and arrange them on a serving plate. Place 1 slice of garlic atop each medallion; scatter the remaining garlic on the plate. Drizzle the olive oil over the goat cheese and on the plate. Grind a generous quantity of pepper over the cheese. Sprinkle chopped basil over everything.

Allow the goat cheese to sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Serve with crackers and thin slices of baguette.

Per serving: 146 calories, 5g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar

Leek, Goat Cheese and Pancetta Tart

Makes one 10-inch tart

MAKE AHEAD: The crust and the filling can be made in advance and stored separately in the refrigerator; when assembling the tart with chilled ingredients, add 10 to 15 minutes to the cooking time.

From Carolyn Van Damme.

For the crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cold water, or more if needed
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the filling
5 medium leeks, thoroughly washed and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces pancetta, cut into small dice
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled, plus 2 ounces for garnish (optional)

For the crust: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles flakes of oatmeal. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time and pulse until the dough forms a mass. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out the dough and place it in a tart pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Brush lightly with the beaten egg. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool.

For the filling: Cook the leeks and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the leeks are wilted, about 8 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and pancetta; reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the leeks are tender. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the cream and cook, stirring, until the cream is absorbed, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Spread 8 ounces of goat cheese evenly over the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell. Spoon the leek mixture over the cheese. Bake until the tart is heated through and browned, about 10 minutes. Crumble the remaining 2 ounces of goat cheese onto the tart, if using, and bake for 3 minutes.

Per serving (based on 8): 491 calories, 15 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 36 g fat, 23 saturated fat, 128 mg cholesterol, 751 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar

Fig and Goat Cheese Purses

Makes 12 appetizer servings

From Erika Rissi

12 fresh, ripe black mission figs
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
12 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
3 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slice each fig in half. Use your thumb to slightly depress the center of each half, creating a small indentation. With a small scoop or spoon, place a nugget of goat cheese in the indentation.
Cut each slice of prosciutto in half crosswise. Place a fig half in the center of one of the halved slices and wrap the prosciutto around the fig, gathering it at the top to create a “purse.” Continue to wrap all of the figs in the same way.
Arrange the figs on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes or just until the prosciutto crisps up. Remove from the oven, let the figs cool slightly and drizzle them with honey. Transfer to a decorative serving platter and serve warm.

Per serving: 101 calories, 4 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 242 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar

By The Food Section  |  August 25, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Recipes , Say Cheese  | Tags: Domenica Marchetti, cheese  
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Next: Seed Planted for a White House Farmers Market?


These look great! I'm especially attracted to the goat cheese-fig-prosciutto combination. When is fig season and where can I find them? I've been looking all summer!

Posted by: mg2157 | August 25, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Risotto with fresh spinach or basil & parsley. Use about half that log for the final addition of cheese instead of parmesan.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | August 25, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

@mg2157 - I saw fresh figs at a Magruder's in Alexandria, VA the other day, so they're coming in.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | August 25, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Yes, fig season is here--late August and September. Enjoy!

FairlingtonBlade, the risotto recipe sounds great. Thanks for suggesting it.

Posted by: Domenica1 | August 25, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

These look great. I actually experimented the other day with grilled figs (slice in half, brush a little olive oil, stick on grill skin-side down for a minute or two until the innards start to bubble a bit); I took a melon-baller and scooped some goat cheese onto each one, then drizzled a balsamic reduction (i.e., cheap store-bought balsamic, simmered on stove for maybe 10 mins until it was thick and syrupy). YUM! Love the prosciutto idea, though; that savory hit would go so well with the sweet/tangy.

Posted by: laura33 | August 25, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

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