Get Me Some Crackers: The Cheese Roundup

Another month done, can you believe it?

The April Resolution was to make fresh cheese, and it sure was delicious.  I still can’t believe how simple it was to throw together a batch of ricotta, and now that I’ve done that I’m definitely hoping to start tackling some slightly more complicated cheeses.  I suppose that holds true for all of the challenges we’ve been doing– during February, I managed to make a successful loaf of bread, but I’m still working on it and just got the Tartine Bread cookbook in the mail.  My kitchen is cluttered with big bags of beautiful local durum wheat, barley and whole wheat flour that I’ve been experimenting with for a fresh pasta blend.  I’m still trying to find that local source of milk for butter, and it still hasn’t happened, but I’ll keep up my search.

I hope you guys are all learning as much as I am, and having fun eating the projects too….

anyway, without further adieu, I give you: cheese!

Farmers Cheese Four Ways, from Homemade Trade: Aimee, that chive cheese sounds right up my alley…  and your second batch does look an awful lot like paneer. Do you think you could fry it up in cubes, or was it too creamy still?

Fresh Cheese from Grow and Resist: in which Meg faces her fear of cooking milk and successfully pulls off a batch of fresh cheese.  (also: I can’t wait to hear about those rhubarb cocktails… )

Homemade Ricotta and a Super Secret Family Recipe for New York Cheesecake: This cheesecake looks absolutely divine. Seriously.  Let’s all meet at Julianne’s house for dessert, I’ll go fuel up the jet and come get you guys.

(Have you started fermenting things yet for this month’s challenge? The topic is so broad, I’m curious to see what everyone comes up with.  Remember, posts are due by June 15th, and anyone that’s new to the party is free to join at anytime.  Just e-mail me a link to the url of your post by the due date.  My e-mail is thejamgirl@gmail.com.)

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Chevre Cheesecake with Pear Jam

This is the dessert, right here: the cheesecake to end all cheesecakes.

Fresh ginger, vanilla and lemon zest beg to be topped with a rich autumn flavor like d’anjou pear jam (or fig jam, or quince would be nice too).

Plus it has a whole pound of goat cheese in it.

Seriously, who’s gonna argue with that?

Chevre Cheesecake

This recipe is an adaptation of this one here, from Ile France Cheese Company.

Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hrs.

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 stick of butter (plus extra to grease the pan)
  • 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs, see below for instructions
  • 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger

For the filling:

  • 1 lb. goat cheese, at room temperature (I use Shamrock Chevre from my friend Anna)
  • 1 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature, preferable from pastured chickens for the richness of the yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • zest and juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 c. pear-cardamom jam, for serving
  • 1/2 c. confectioners sugar, for serving

To make graham cracker crumbs, crush 10 graham crackers with a rolling pin or in a food processor. Melt 1 stick of butter in a medium saucepan. In a large bowl, combine butter, graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 c. confectioners sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Mix everything together thoroughly and press into the bottom of a greased 10″ spring form pan.  Put the crust in the fridge to chill while you make the filling. 

(If you have a stand-mixer, it helps with this step:)  Cream together goat cheese and cream cheese. Slowly add the sugar and eggs, alternating between the two and making sure to combine everything thoroughly. Mix until light and fluffy. Add the lemon, vanilla and ginger and mix well.

Put aluminum foil around the bottom of the pan with the crust in it and place the wrapped pan on a cookie sheet. (Don’t skip this step unless you want sugary good all over your oven that smokes for days until you clean it out. Not like I did that or anything)

Pour the cheese filling into the pan. Bake for 1 hr. When the cake is done, it will have a subtle golden color and still move very slightly in the center if you give the pan a gentle shake.

Serve topped with pear-cardamom jam and a dusting of powdered sugar.