This post is coming nearly a week late as I was having problems formatting it. Wordpress’s post editor wasn’t putting breaks in between paragraphs and that was making things annoying to read. For whatever reason it seems to be working now so I won’t complain any further. No need to jinx it!
Anyhow, this edition of Golden Crusts is brought to you courtesy of my iPhone (again! have YOU seen my digital camera anywhere? this is getting annoying) and also courtesy of my friend Melissa’s kitchen. Melissa does neato draw-y and screenprint-y things over at Sweet Crow and is an amateur cheeseologist much like myself. Making food with friends is always way more fun than making food by yourself and I think I’m going to make that a regular part of this blog. She was nice enough to be my first test subject, ahem, partner in crime! Plus her kitchen is about five times the size of mine so it was nice to cook in a space that didn’t feel like the inside of a shoebox. Thanks, yo!
So at the very end of last week’s post I hinted at doing a sandwich for this week using a non-cow’s milk cheese. Even in this day and age the thought of eating something that came from a sheep or a water buffalo makes a lot of people a bit squeamish (like cow’s milk cheese bored into by mites didn’t? who am I kidding) so I figured it would be the best idea to start with something basic and not super crazy. Like chevre!
Chevre is a cheese made from goat’s milk. The word ‘chevre’ is French for goat which makes it probably one of the most aptly named cheeses around. It’s pronounced “shev” or “shev-ruh” depending on the level of pretension you’re comfortable exhibiting. I say go all out and say it in the Frenchest way possible. While the name is applied to any sort of cheese made from strictly goat’s milk it’s most commonly used to refer to the semi-hard variety that can be found in most grocery stores. It kind of looks like regular cream cheese and has a similar texture. You can get it aged (usually no older than four or five months) or fresh (no more than a day or two old!). Young chevre has a really smooth mouthfeel and a rather mild but distinctly tangy flavor. Aged chevres have a lower moisture content and as such aren’t as soft and have a stronger, saltier bite to them. If you’ve never had it before, my advice would be to go for the younger, softer stuff. It’s super common to find chevres that are flavored with any number of things, from herbs to dried fruits to even bee pollen. The chevre I used for the sandwiches was coated in cracked black peppper. Delicious!
We also used sun-dried tomatoes, basil pesto (I just got pre-made stuff but if this were the summertime I’d be making my own because fresh pesto is AMAZING), and fresh white bread from the Whole Foods bakery. I think the label said “rustic Italian”? While I was toasting the bread and getting everything else ready I soaked the tomatoes in freshly boiled water to rehydrate and plump them up a bit. You can skip this step if you’d like but doing so will make them kinda toughand super chewy. If that’s your thing, more power to you. It’s not mine, so they got a ten minute soak. One half of the sandwich got a pesto-tomato treatment, the other half got chevre-d. If you let the cheese come to room temperature it becomes super spreadable and easier to handle.
On the stove. The heat distribution on the skillet was a bit uneven but no harm, no foul. This bread is kind of on the biggish side so these weren’t the easiest to cleanly flip. In the future I’d either use smaller bread or a bigger spatula.
Action shot! Look at me go.
Crusted and golden. Chevre doesn’t really do a whole lot in the way of melting all over the place when heated so thankfully this wasn’t a very messy sandwich to eat. It was, however, incredibly filling. And delicious, did I mention that? Melissa took one bite of hers and simply said “yes.” Quite the perfect compliment, I think. The pepper coating on the cheese added the slightest bite to an otherwise savory sandwich. I’d definitely be interested in trying this one again using a different sort of pesto/veggie combination, maybe sun-dried tomato pesto and grilled asparagus? What are your ideas? Let me know in the comments section below!
Tuneage this week was provided by the Bomb. Bit of a Chicago punk rock supergroup – Mike and Pete from the recently-disbanded Methadones and Jeff Pezzati from Naked Raygun on vocals. Musically they’re just about everything I want from a punk band: relentless rhythm, crunchy guitars, lots of melody and more sing-alongs than you can shake a stick at.