First of all, I was very intrigued by Woolwich Dairy and the varieties of cheese they make from goat's milk: Triple Creme Brie, Goat Cheddar, Goat Mozzarella and Fresh Chevrai. I was able to find all the varieties of their cheeses in Minneapolis at both Whole Foods and Kowalski's (I hear Trader Joe’s has them too). I've had Chevrai quite often but none of the others. Could they be as good as the cow's milk versions we were used to? Well, I'm here to tell you they are. I've tried all but the mozzarella now and was really pleasantly surprised by both the flavors and textures. I also like the fact the fresh Chevrai is made close to home in Wisconsin.
A friend of mine whose husband is lactose intolerant told me she often uses goat cheeses because he can eat them unlike the cow's milk versions. But, she said, she has never found one that melted well.
Look at that grilled cheese made with the goat cheddar. It melted beautifully! I also used it in a mac & cheese (recipe later this week) and had wonderful creamy results.
So, after tasting all the cheeses it was time to start thinking of how to use them to update some of our traditional holiday recipes or perhaps create some new ones.
I really wanted to do something with sweet potatoes. They are such a traditional side dish for holiday meals but never were for my family. Then last year, Matt and I made a sweet potato and maple dish that everyone loved so, I decided sweet potatoes should be on our holiday menu from now on. This version bakes the sweet potatoes with some maple syrup, cayenne pepper & fresh Chevrai for a dish that is sweet, spicy and tangy all at the same time. A lot tastier than that marshmallow version!
Maple Glazed Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese
1 1/4 lbs sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 c maple syrup
2 t brown sugar
1 t cayenne pepper
2 oz Woolwich Dairy Fresh Chevrai
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix the sweet potatoes, maple syrup, brown sugar, cayenne, Chevrai and a few pinches of salt together in a bowl. Pour into a baking dish (an 8" square glass dish or pie plate would work well).
Cover with foil & bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil & bake 10 - 20 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender.
Then it was on to dessert and what could be more traditional than Figgy Pudding?! Well, traditional figgy pudding is really more of a fruit cake and we all know the reputation that fruit cake has. If there was a traditional holiday dish that needed updating this was it. So, I give you the Figgy (Bread) Pudding.
Custard soaked bread is layered with chopped dried figs and Triple Creme Brie in individual ramekins. When baked they rise up like miniature soufflés for a beautiful presentation. The flavor is savory with just a hint of sweet from the figs & brown sugar, a nice change from some of the overly sweet treats we get this time of year. It's a very sophisticated ending to a holiday meal that will have your guests singing, "Now bring us some figgy pudding, now bring us some figgy pudding..."
Figgy (Bread) Pudding
These can be made earlier in the day and kept in the fridge then baked right before serving.
4 small ramekins (they should hold about 3/4 c water)
8 1/2-inch thick slices of bread (Use a really good hearty white bread.)
2 1/2 T Woolwich Triple Creme Brie
2 T brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1 c milk
8 dried figs, chopped
Cut the bread into 8 rounds that will just fit into your ramekins. (I used a biscuit cutter but you can use a cookie cutter, glass or even the ramekins themselves to cut your circles.)
Let the bread rounds sit out for an hour or so to dry out a little.
Spread the brie on one side of each bread round, about 1 teaspoon per slice.
Mix the eggs, brown sugar, nutmeg & milk together.
Put one slice of bread, cheese side up, in the bottom of each ramekin. Top with chopped figs and then another slice of the bread, also cheese side up. Add as much of the custard mixture as you can to each of the ramekins, pressing down to help the bread soak it in. You will most likely not use all the custard at this point. Let the pudding sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. At this point you will probably be able to add more custard as the bread will have soaked some up. (I ended up adding the custard two more time which is why I think mine came out so beautifully creamy.)
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Put the ramekins on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. Serve hot.
Makes 4 individual puddings.
I'll have a few more goat cheese recipes for you later this week.
Disclaimer: I was compensated by Woolwich Dairy to create two recipes using at least two of their cheeses. I was not told what to write in any other way.
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