Friday, October 5, 2012

Blog Hop: Cheese Please

My dear friend of Sybaritic Pleasures is trying to start an international foodie blog hop after becoming frustrated that the many she encountered were goofily limited to a specific region or country. I thought I'd try to tackle these as another creative endeavor and hopefully start stretching my kitchen skills again. The challenge is simply enough: Cheese, Please

 I'm a day late getting this post up to actually participate but I'm not going to worry about it. I played with my new camera for the photos so it made me late while I figured out how to use the new software to get the photos OFF the camera. I still have quite a bit to learn.

The first topic saddened me quite a bit! I LOVE cheese, but it no longer loves me! I have developed quite the digestive sensitivity to cow dairy, although I have discovered that goat seems to be fine and sheep in the middle. This challenge gave me a little added complexity of trying to come up with something new that used only chevre as the cheese since our move to the outskirts of Seattle has made it more difficult for me to obtain greater variety than that. (Chevre is a soft goat cheese, often mild in flavor.)

Time was a-ticking and inspiration was not a-hitting. Meanwhile, too many tomatoes were sitting on the counter. We were hungry so I threw together a quickish dinner of bruschetta. This isn't a proper recipe as you can use just what you have on hand.

Roasted Lemon Cherry Tomato and Chevre Bruschetta

  1. Half a bunch of homegrown lemon cherry tomatoes and spread out on a silpat lined baking sheet while the oven heated up to 375 deg F.
  2. Drizzle Sotto Voce Olio D'Arancia over the top and then a little salt and pepper.

    Note: We were given a bottle of this delicious locally infused olive oil as a wedding gift and I finally had to go buy a new bottle. I'm not a huge orange fan, but this doesn't come across as "orange," just lovely balanced flavor. While there, I picked up a bottle of the Olio Dorato to try and its even more stunning! Using infused oils is a great way to add some complex flavors easily and on the fly.
  3. Chop fresh lemon verbena and mint from the garden and sprinkled over the tomatoes.
  4. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. I didn't really keep track because I was waiting for J to get back from the grocery store with a baguette and some basil. I just checked on them and pulled them out when they were all roasty and yummy looking but before they disintegrated and lost their shape.
  5. Slice the baguette on the bias and toast both sides. Optional to brush a little olive oil before toasting. J started toasting before I could mention it so we had some with and some without. The ones with the oil were a little crispier instead of crunchy and colored up more prettily.
  6. Lay the baguette on a baking sheet and layer with chevre, roasted tomatoes and chiffonaded basil. and put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Drink with a glass of red wine.
Since this recipe isn't anything special or unique, I decided to be a little silly and conduct an experiment. I varied the order the ingredients were stacked on the baguette to see what, if any, affect it had on flavor. We're not true foodies, but we like to pretend.
Left to right as layered from bottom to top: TBC, BTC, CBT, BCT, CBTC
We labeled each piece by the order it was stacked on the baguette, from bottom to top.

  1. Tomato, basil, chevre - My first idea was to put the chevre on top so that the element could melt it and brown it a bit more. We both noticed the chevre flavor the most and didn't really notice the basil.
  2. Basil, tomato, chevre - Oddly, by putting the basil next to the bread, we tasted all the elements with a nice basil finish.
  3. Chevre, basil, tomato - As we bit in to this piece, it seemed the tomatoes popped their juices down into the chevre to meld a bit differently and had a delicate accent of basil.
  4. Basil, chevre, tomato - Good tomato flavor, but absolutely lost any sense of the basil's presence. By sandwiching it between the bread and the chevre, the basil didn't seem to be able to reach enough taste buds to register.
  5. Chevre, basil, tomato, chevre - Jokingly called the "too much cheese" because how could there be too much cheese? Well, we surprised ourselves and really felt there was too much cheese! The chevre completely overwhelmed the other two ingredients.

While we were eating and comparing notes, J realized I had forgotten to make the two variations with the basil as the top ingredient. Oops! I'm going to pretend I wanted to leave you a permutation to try for for yourself.

My final conclusion: my favorite was 3 with 2 being a close second. The first pop of the sweet and acidic tomato also releases a little more of its juice to trickle down in to the goat cheese, mixing in a way that added a slightly different flavor with the smooth and rich chevre. Somehow, the basil holds its own in this order and came through distinctly while still harmoniously.

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