Hello blogger friends! I feel like its been months since my last post but in fact it has only been a couple of weeks. As some of you may know from reading earlier posts, my mother moved in with me about two weeks ago. We've been tied up with getting her settled in and all that goes along with it. I think things are finally about to even out. I started to say normalize but we all know I'll never be normal!
I haven't had much time to dabble in my kitchen but I finally decided I was going to loose what little mind I have if I didn't get to make something to post. I got the most amazing artisan (locally made) goat cheese last week. I was driving down the road and actually drove past a huge pasture of grazing goats. There was a farmstand shack by the side of the road that said "fresh produce" so I pulled off the road and went in.
What an amazing find! LOCALLY GROWN food!!!!! I talked with the lady running the stand who told me they used to grow it right there until the city widened the Cape Parkway but now they just brought everything from their main farm in Immokolee (which is about 45 minutes from here). They don't have organic certification because they simply can't afford it BUT they have a reputation for safe, sustainable farming practices and use no pesticides. I'm ok with that...there's a lot to be said for knowing where your food comes from even if it isn't organic.
Anyway, I asked about the goats and she explained that they are raised for milk production and that they make and sell the cheese. Of course I must add that the State of Florida prohibits the sale of raw milk and or milk products for human consumption (ahem). Raw dairy (whether cow of goat) must be labeled "for agricultural use only" or some such nonsense...in other words, you are only supposed to buy it to feed your PETS! I didn't even ask if the goat milk was pasteurized because I don't drink animal milk anyway so it wouldn't make any difference to me. I also didn't ask if the cheese was made from raw milk but I am assuming it isn't since it doesn't have that silly label. Who cares...it tastes amazing!
For those of you who read my post In Memory of Katarina you may recall I mentioned learning to make a great many wonderful foods from her. She wasn't much of a cake, cookie or even bread baker but that woman could THROW DOWN on some strudel! There were two main methods that we used for making strudels. One was the ultra-thin stretched method (phyllo) which is time consuming and quite tricky but requires only a couple of ingredients....basically flour, room temperature water, pinch of salt and oil. The other also requires a mere three ingredients BUT...the time and difficulty factor is far more suited to most strudel novices.
Those familiar with Serbian cooking know about their somewhat obsessvie interest in sour cream. This dough sounds so strange you would almost believe it could not work...but it does, and well IF you chill the dough long enough and handle it quickly and gently when rolling. It is made of 1 part softened butter, 1/2 part sour cream to two parts flour. Nothing else...not even salt! You can't use totally room temperature butter either. It just needs to be soft enough to mix. I'd say no more than an hour at room temp. As you can see in the following picture, the baked dough even LOOKS tender and flaky...and oh my is it tasty!
Can you see the gorgeous "bubbles" in the surface of the baked rolls? This is buttery golden goodness right here. Flaky, tender, flavorful and NOT on anybody's diet plan I assure you! The best part about using this method is, you don't need a six foot long work space in which to stretch that dough and a degree in pastry to pull it off. If you really really really want...I can also show you how to make the other kind sometime. Like phyllo, this dough is also versitile as fillings go...sweet or savory will do. Also like phyllo, super wet fillings will NOT do!
By nature, Pesto is rather a "wet" concoction. So to compensate for that you could sprinkle it with dry bread crumbs but I find that flax meal is a better choice. First, it can never hurt to have more flax. Secondly...I'm not the biggest fan of bread crumbs so there! Feel free to make your own pesto...which I do and have used in this recipe but don't beat yourself up if you prefer using store bought. Just make sure it is a quality product that uses OLIVE OIL and not some designer blend of rancid garbage oils. Other than the pesto and the flax...the only other ingredient is that amazing goat cheese...or Chevre' if you want to sound like a food snob!!!
If you note in the picture, I place my baked rolls on paper towels on the cooling rack. Pesto as we all know has a LOT of oil in it (another reason for making your own because you can make a drier pesto to use for this dish). When the strudel first comes out of the oven it is basically sitting in a puddle of olive oil that has leached out from the pesto. Remove it to a towel covered cooling rack right away because if you let it sit on the pan... it will reabsorb everybit of that oil from the pesto and make for a greasy strudel. Its best to let it cool almost to room temp before cutting. When fresh out of the oven, it is SO delicate.
Buttery Chevre' and Pesto Strudel
For the Strudel:
1 stick unsalted room temperature butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup flour
- Blend these three ingredients with mixer or wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms. Do not attempt to work the dough at this time. Sprinkle plastic wrap with flour and turn dough out onto plastic wrap. Roll up and sort of shape into a flattened ball. Place the dough packet in the fridge for at least two hours or until dough is firm enough to handle.
- When ready to roll, cut the dough into two equal portions. Working quickly, heavily flour your work surface and begin flattening the first piece. You'll need to flour the rolling side, turn over and flour the other side several time while rolling. This is a VERY soft dough and the more you play with it the harder it will become to manage. Once dough is rolled out into approximately 12x14 inch rectangle yo are ready to fill.
1/2 cup well drained store bought pesto or homemade (make using less oil)
1 heaping cup crumbled goat cheese
4 tablespoons golden flax meal
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet and a cooling rack with parchment paper. Roll out dough and spread 1/4 cup of the pesto over two-thirds of the dough (dough is worked lengthwise so spread on the the bottom 2/3). Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the flax meal and half of the goat cheese. Use remaining filling for second piece of dough.
2. Begin by folding the shorter sides in about half an inch to lap over the filling. Starting at the long side (which works best if you have it closest to your body), gently begin rolling the log all the way to the unfilled side. If you've done your job correctly, it won't be stuck to the counter and will still be cold enough to roll easily. Gently lift roll onto the lined baking sheet. Repeat process with the second piece of dough.
3. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown...about 30 minutes in my oven. The will puff up slightly. Have some paper towels layed out on top of the parchment linded cooling rack and remember to get the rolls off the pan as soon as the come out of the oven to prevent reabsorbtion of that extra oil.
If you simply MUST have a warm piece...at least wait 20 minutes until the fats in the dough have settled down and stopped steaming. It's the bomb even at room temperature though.
Are you smacking your lips or licking your computer screen???
(c) copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet
*This recipe is copyright protected and is provided courtesy of The Homegrown Gourmet and intended for personal use by our readers. Permission to reprint must be obtained in writing from the author. The use of this recipe to make this dish for commercial resale is copyright infringment.
(Sorry...I had to put that for just ONE reader...and they know who they are.)