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Butting In! (August 30, 2011)

A surprise wedding present years ago was a couple of gallons of fresh goat milk from farmer friends. We had no idea what to do with it, so served it up to willing guests who reported back that it was delicious with a slightly sweet and sometimes salty undertone. Hey, not bad, but that was the end of the goat, so to speak, for us!

Then goat cheese arrived on supermarket shelves, and suddenly what was once quirky health food moved towards the mainstream! After cheese, markets began carrying goat milk, and the occasional gourmet shop even stocked goat butter! What's going on?

Here in North America we're catching on to goat dairy for a lot of reasons, not the least is all the health benefits. It's a good source of calcium and the amino acid tryptophan plus protein, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and potassium. Perhaps the greatest benefit of goat's milk is that some people who cannot tolerate cow's milk are able to drink goat's milk without any problems. 

Historically goats have played a role in food culture since time immemorial, with ancient cave paintings showing the hunting of goats. They are also one of the oldest domesticated animals – the herding of goats is thought to have evolved about 10,000 years ago in the mountains of Iran.

Goat milk was widely consumed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and Egyptian pharaohs placed containers in their burial chambers. Goat milk has remained popular throughout history and still is consumed on a more extensive basis worldwide than cow's milk.

But back to today: the dénouement occurred when we got word that our niece was making goat cheese at home, and loved the results... we had to know more, andwe found it on the net at

Do take a look here, for everything you need to know about goat cheese is on this site... but we took the easy way and went shopping for ours. Then we started looking for recipes, and you know the rest!

Goat Cheese by Maggie Foard is a glorious paean to her passion. Practicing as an interior landscape contractor in downtown San Francisco, Foard was introduced to fresh goat cheese on her son's first grade field trip to the local goat farm. She fell in love with the cheese and shortly thereafter bought her own spread in rural San Mateo County! She was already an avid chef, so incorporating goat cheese and other goat dairy into her cooking was a natural step, and this book is the happy result.

From the winsome photo of a wee baby goat on the dedication page to a photo-studded Beginner's Guide to Goat Cheese in the back, Foard's anecdotes on starting the farm and bonding with an adolescent billy goat made a great read; her recipes from breakfast to dessert make this a great cookbook!

Joyce Goldstein is an internationally known chef, author, teacher and Mediterranean cooking expert; we especially enjoyed her Saffron Shores: Jewish Cooking of the Southern Mediterranean (see Saffron Shores) and are happily eating our way through one of her latest, Antipasti. The Italians have always known there's no better prelude to dinner than little savoury morsels arranged on small plates, and we know there's no better guide to antipasti than Joyce Goldstein! Oh my, from truffled rice croquettes, asparagus frittata to prosciutto-wrapped shrimp or a luscious duck salad, Goldstein gives us dozens of recipes to make your next party!

We couldn't resist giving you another recipe from the talented and versatile Mairlyn Smith, whose latest book, Healthy Starts Here, has bounded onto the best-seller lists! (See Cottage Cooking). And with good reason: not only are there 140 recipes that will make you feel great, but Mairlyn, a professional home economist, imparts excellent health advice for all ages, and does it with a wicked sense of humour! You'll love her other books as well, Ultimate Healthy Eating Plan and Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health, and make sure to check out her website, where Mairlyn says, "As the only professional home economist in the world who is also an alumnus of the Second City Comedy Troupe, not only do I bring knowledge about foods and nutrition to the table, but I do it with a smile and a giggle." So, show us your stuff, Capra aegagrus hircus!

On today's menu:

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Caprino alla Salsa Rossa, or Goat cheese with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Well, look what we found in Joyce Goldstein's Antipasti! As the author says, "Nothing could be simpler than coating a few rounds of cheese with a spicy tomato sauce. This Piedmontese classic, sometimes called tomini elettrici, or 'electric cheese,' will certainly stimulate your appetite."

Serve with slices of warm toast or grilled bread. Bonus: any extra sauce can be refrigerated and later served as an accompaniment to cooked beef or roast chicken! We bet you won't have any leftover!

Serves 8

    For the sauce:
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and finely chopped plum tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Sugar, if needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 rounds fresh goat cheese, each 2 or 3 ounces
  • A few handfuls of salad greens dressed with extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Toasted or grilled bread slices

To make the sauce, in a small sauce pan, heat the red pepper flakes in the olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes longer, so that the pepper flavour infuses the oil. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, vinegar, and a little sugar for balance if the sauce seems too tart. Place the pan over low heat and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Remove the sauce from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and let cool completely. Taste again and adjust seasoning.

Arrange the goat cheese round on salad plate and spoon the sauce evenly over the cheeses. For a contemporary touch, garnish the plates with some greens, if desired. Serve the bread on the side.

Tony's wine recommendation:
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Pouilly-Fumé


Spring Mushroom Omelette for Two

This is not just any old omelette…This is a Mairlyn Smith Healthy Starts Here omelette with designer mushrooms seasoned gently with sage and red paper to which Mairlyn adds goat cheese for a creamy touch of tang, all topped off with chives. Sigh, this is indeed the perfect breakfast for two! Thanks Mairlyn!

Serves 2

  • 4 ounces (125 g) shitake mushrooms
  • 4 ounces (125 g) oyster mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh sage leaves
  • 4 omega-3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 oz (60 g) soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) snipped fresh chives
  1. Wash the mushrooms gently under cold running water. Remove the stems and save them for the stockpot, or just give them the old heave-ho. Let the mushroom caps drain in a colander, then pat dry.
  2. Cut the sage leaves into a chiffonade (very very thin shreds!). Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the eggs and 1/4 cup (60mL) water in a medium bowl. Whisk in the sage and cracked pepper and set aside.
  4. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then the shallot, and sauté for 1 minute.
  5. Add the mushrooms and cook, without moving them too much, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Pour the egg mixture evenly into the skillet. Cook without stirring until the edges look set, about 1 minute.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Beaujolais-Villages, Valpolicella or Rosé from Provence


Goat Macaroni and Cheese

Ah, the old classic updated! We went on the net and found this gourmet version by Jennifer Cross at and it couldn't be easier! You don't have to uh, goat all the way with the ingredients but it's worth it if you can! Goat milk and cheese add a special tang that just doesn't come from other sources, and we promise that once you've tried this version, you'll be hooked!

Best, it goes together in minutes, and cooks in less than an hour. Move over, Kraft!

  • 3 cups pasta, shells or macaroni
  • 2 cups grated hard goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon goat butter (or regular butter)
  • 1 cup goat's milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • Salt and white pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil macaroni, drain, and set aside in a 8"×8" pan.
  3. Melt hard goat cheese and butter in a pan.
  4. Add goat milk, garlic, salt, pepper, and dill.
  5. Fold in chunks of soft goat cheese until creamy.
  6. Pour sauce over macaroni.
  7. Bake uncovered for 25–30 minutes until top is lightly golden.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc


Wild Salmon Tacos with Roasted Corn and Chile Adobo Cream

Maggie Foard in Goat Cheese says "I never get tired of having salmon for dinner. Sometimes we serve these soft tacos when we want a really informal company meal. Roast the corn kernels alone or with red bell pepper and onions, and add cooked baby green limas for a quick succotash-style corn." We followed her advice and loved it; the goat-cheese-laced chile adobo elevated this dish to dinner-party status.

Serves 6

  • 3 cups corn kernels, cut fresh from the cob or frozen
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1½ pounds wild salmon fillet
  • 8 small flour tortillas
  • Sliced avocado, cucumber and cherry tomatoes

For the Salmon:

Heat a charcoal, gas or stove top grill for the salmon.

Preheat oven to 400°F for the corn. Toss the corn, onion and bell pepper in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in an ovenproof dish for 20–25 minutes until the corn is lightly brown and fragrant.

While the corn is roasting, brush the salmon with the remaining olive oil and place on the hot grill, about 5 minutes per side. Once the salmon is off the grill, let it rest a few minutes, keeping it warm, wrapped in foil, until you are ready to assemble the tacos.

Warm the tortillas briefly on the grill. Wrap in a kitchen towel to keep warm.

Place everything on the table and let everyone assemble their own tacos, passing the Chile Adobo Cream.

Chile Adobo Cream

  • 4 ounces chèvre or fromage blanc
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2–3 Tbsp canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

Whisk together the chèvre, buttermilk and chipotles in a bowl or in the blender. Pour into a small serving dish.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Viognier or Riesling Kabinett


Lemon Breakfast Tart

This divine, lightly sweetened cheesecake-style tart is suggested by Maggie Foard in Goat Cheese for breakfast, but will go beautifully at tea time or a special occasion brunch. A good, rich pastry recipe will do for the crust; place in a deep 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.

We served this with a summer fruit salad on the side, and oh, why yes, Mimosas to wash it down!

Serves 6

  • 8 ounces fresh chèvre
  • 8 ounces fresh goat ricotta
  • 4 extra-large range free eggs
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 9-inch pre-baked or homemade deep fluted tart shell
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the chèvre, ricotta, eggs, 2/3 cup sugar and lemon juice in the blender or standing mixer. Finely mince the lemon zest in a mini chop with the 2 Tbsp sugar. Add the lemon-sugar mixture to the chèvre mixture and combine.

When smooth, pour into the tart shell, place on a cookie sheet and bake about 45 minutes, or until puffy and set in the center. Toward the end of the bake time, the top of the tart may crack a bit but will settle back down into place after cooling.
Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Riesling Icewine or Muscat de Beaumes de Venise


We wish to thank the following:

Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, and Gibbs-Smith, Layton, Utah, for permission to publish recipes and material from Goat Cheese by Maggie Foard. Text © 2008 Maggie Foard. Photographs ©2008 Lori Sang Hsu and Harlan Chapman.


Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver and Chronicle Books, San Francisco, for Antipasti, by Joyce Goldstein. Text © 2006 Joyce Goldstein. Photographs © 2006 Paolo Nobile.


Whitecap Books, North Vancouver, BC, for Healthy Starts Here by Mairlyn Smith. © 2011 Mairlyn Smith. Photography by Mick McColl/General Chefery.


For information about goat milk, cheese and butter: The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests or advertising, is a new force for change to help make a healthier you and a healthier world.


Jennifer Cross, for her Goat Macaroni and Cheese recipe (May 15, 2009) on


Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

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