Monday, June 23, 2008

Whole raw goat milk

I know it has been absolutely ages, and that reason is that I simply have done very little cooking as my new job is extremely time-consuming. Hence I though maybe I'd reflect instead on the ingredient I am most involved with, for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week; namely cheese.
I am totally agog over this rad cheese, La Lingot de Quercy. It's this lil French made of raw goats' milk, shaped like an amusing moldy rectangular prism of butter. When you pick it up the outside is faintly springy and elastic, kind of like a mold-sack, and the sensation as you lightly squeeze is like it's sacky walls house an interior of weight and liquid. When you cut off an end, the inside is of course white, and all around the interior, there is a surrounding quarter inch of a slightly less opaque white with a decidedly oozey character, as opposed to the majority of the interior, which, while far from crumbly, is of a firmer attitude. The taste is goatey but blessedly un-barnyard-ish, with a lovely aged pungency that makes seventeen-year-olds gag and reach for the Mountain Dew. It's quite buttery, not as firm as butter or a cheese like La Tur which feels almost exactly in the mouth like butter - it leaves a more melty, coagulated sensation. It's very rich, very creamy, and very good.
Now - the really interesting thing about this cheese, is that the longer you leave it kicking around - go ahead, let it mold, even GREEN mold - the more it develops. A lot of cheeses are rendered inedible by actually molding - well, rotting, really, as opposed to molding - but this cheese just gets harder, drier and more complex. After 2 weeks, it's as firm as, say, a very creamy feta, but the flavor, and in particular the flavor on the back of the tongue as you swallow, is HOT. As in peppery hot. Isn't that wierd? It's very exciting to eat. Apparently in another two weeks it is hard enough to microplane onto salads or toast, like a proper hard cheese, at which point I can only imagine it must be like a sort of goat wasabi. I was sneezing at the bite of the two week old stuff. The thing is, it tastes GOOD, I mean, it's peppery yes but so goshdarn flavorful and complex you just want to take the whole little log and hide it from your co-workers so you can gorge alone when they all go out on a smoke break. And then demurely blink and deny all knowledge of said cheese.
It's affordable too, relatively, I really think you should try it. Try a little bit every two days and engage with it's maturation. It's like having a kitten!

Monday, June 2, 2008

darn ham!

It has been a while, I got a fascinating new job as a fromagiere, or 'cheez girl', that has been extremely consuming.
I had these scallops, see? And some pancetta left over from Max cutting it too thin that was going begging. I was browsing online for suitable recipies and was, like, totally stymied. Why is everyone - well, all those middlin' cooks who post stuff online, ahem - so obsessed with wrapping stuff in things? Scallops wrapped in pancetta seems a) cliche b) fiddly and c) a bad idea to execute in reality as those two things have different cooking times.
So here is what I made:
Scallops with fried pancetta, tarragon and orange
Dry scallops. Salt and pepper both sides.
Take maybe 12 slices very thinly sliced pancetta, like proscuttio thin. Fry it up, mostly done, and finish till crispy-edged with a tablespoon minced fresh tarragon, minced zest one orange, ten halved green grapes, one clove garlic put through press (why can't there be a verb for that? 'Machined'?)- only brief cooking, a minute. Remove pancetta mixture. Keep pan hot, flame at med high. Gently place scallops not touching each other in pan. Wait, without messing with them, for two minutes. Gently spatula one up and peek. Does it look nice and carmelized, with crispy edges? If not wait another minute. When yummy edges are right, flip each scallop with tongs and do the same to the other side. Remove scallops and put on plate. Deglaze pan with 2 teaspoons bals. vin. unless you're getting tired of it, or maybe sherry, then turn heat to high and toss pancetta with a handful pomegranite seeds for a minutes till all tangly and hot. Pour and arrange over scallops. Chopped parsley on top.
It's good. Also, finally now you have a way to get rid of that pesky extra pancetta that's always around the house!