People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
10/31/2002 Fall salad with goat cheese, chestnut honey, and raspberries (Salade d'automne au chèvre, miel de chataîgne, et aux framboises)
For 4 servings:
3/4-1 lb. delicious fresh goat cheese (better to use local goat cheese than French if you're in the States) 8-10 c. mixed young salad greens, including plenty of arugula and endive frisée, washed and dried. 12 t. chestnut or other strong-flavored honey A handful of fresh mint leaves, cut into chiffonade 1/2-1 pt. fresh raspberries Fruity olive oil Freshly ground Indonesian black pepper, if available.
For the vinaigrette:
1 shallot, minced 2 T. balsamic vinegar 5 T. best olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper
A few hours before serving, mash the goat cheese with a fork. Use very clean hands to form it into balls about 1 1/4" in diameter. You should have about 12 disks of cheese (or some other number divisible by 4). Flatten the balls, and use your thumb to form a symmetrical indentation in their centers. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Combine the vinaigrette ingredients.
Just before serving, toss the greens with the vinaigrette and divide among 4 plates. Place an equal number of cheese disks in the center of each plate of greens. Using a teaspoon, fill the wells in the center of each cheese with honey. Sprinkle the mint over them and drizzle with a thread of olive oil. Finish with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper (use the long-shaped Indonesian black pepper if you can find it for its perfumed aroma. You'll need to grind it in a mortar as it won't go through a pepper mill.) Scatter raspberries on top of the greens and serve immediately.
This elegant salad is easy to make and has a wonderful symphony of complementary flavors: the pungent pepper, the creamy goat cheese, the sweet, strong honey, and the perfumed raspberries contrasting with the bite of slightly bitter greens.