Goat cheese has been around for centuries, but is just now becoming more popular in the U.S. So recently, "The Early Show" sent our resident chef, Bobby Flay, to Rainbeau Ridge, a small, artisanal goat farm in Bedford Hills, N.Y., to learn firsthand how to make the delicious cheese.
Flay pointed out that the Westchester County in New York -- a suburb just north of Manhattan -- one of the most exclusive areas in the nation -- may not seem a likely place to run a goat farm. However, that's just what two sisters are doing there -- and loving it.
Lisa Schwartz, one of the farm's proprietors, told Flay, "I love goats because they have incredible personalities, and they give so much. They're great moms; they're great milkers."
Schwartz and her sister Karen Sabath both left corporate careers to raise families, but today the kids they take care of are on their farm -- one that produces hand-crafted goat cheese.
To really understand how goat's milk goes from milk to cheese, Flay decided to learn the process firsthand.
He began with learning to milk the goat.
Swartz explained, "I'm going to close my hands around the teat and then follow it down and give it a little squirt."
Flay said milking the old-fashioned way is certainly an acquired skill. But he quickly caught on.
He said at one point, "They didn't teach me this in culinary school."
Once the milk is flowing the milking machine then takes over.
The goats on Swartz and Sabath's farm will produce a gallon of milk per day, which will eventually yield about a pound of cheese.
The milk is then pasteurized by heating, cultures are added that cause the milk to thicken, and after 24 hours it's ready to be ladled into the cheese molds.
Swartz added the cheeses are handmade, but there should be some symmetry with the cheese's shape.
In some cheeses, a flavoring called ash is added both on the inside and the outside.
Swartz explained, "The ash that we use is a vegetable carbon, and mixed with the salt allows us to apply it to both draw out the moisture and provide an additional earthy seasoning."
Goat cheese can be used in ways you may not have imagined. In fact, the sisters have written a cookbook with over 60 recipes with dishes like goat cheese French toast and goat cheese cheese cake.
Flay remarked, "You got to start with goat cheese and end with goat cheese."
Swartz replied, "In our house there's nothing that doesn't go with goat cheese."
So what can you make with goat cheese at home? Flay shared these recipes on "The Early Show":
Go to Page 2 for some tasty goat cheese recipes.
Lemon Chive Dressing
Some call this "Goat Goddess Dressing' - Whatever you call it, it's a great harbinger of spring.
8 ounces fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup goat milk (can substitute any milk)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup chives, finely chopped
Blend cheese and milk in food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.
In separate bowl, mix lemon juice and salt until salt is dissolved.
Combing 'cream' and lemon juice. Add chives. Refrigerate. (Will store 3-5 days)
Yields 1 1/2 cups.
NOTE: Pair with baby spinach, early radishes and mint from your garden!
Drizzle over the season's first asparagus, roasted or steamed.
Spring Pizza with Fresh Arugula
1/4 pound arugula, washed and dried with stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
6-8 ounces fresh goat cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F. Roll out dough as two 12 inch pizzas or 4 personal size pizzas on pizza stone or baking sheet. Spread thin layer of arugula.
Drizzle with olive oil. Break small amounts of goat cheese and place on top of pizza. Spread pine nuts over surface of the pizza. Bake 10-20 minutes.
Cool slightly. Cut in wedges and serve hot.
Yields 4-6 servings.
Enormously satisfying, this easy to make recipe is perfect for brunch, takes advantage of leftover bread and can be assembled ahead of time.
2 cups milk
1/4 cup olive oil from artichoke hearts (see below)
1 pound sourdough bread (cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sage, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
3 jars (6 1/2 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts (drained - use reserved oil in above)
1 cup Fontina cheese grated
1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
8 ounces fresh goat cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 13"x9" baking dish with butter or non-stick spray. In large bowl, soak bread in oil and milk, let bread absorb all liquid. In separate bowl, whisk eggs and seasonings together. Add egg mixture to soaked bread. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until top is golden brown.
Yields 10-12 servings
Tangy Lemon Cheesecake
The juice and zest of lemon highlight the tanginess of the freshest goat cheese.
12 ounces fresh goat cheese
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 eggs separated
4 tablespoons flour
Optional: Fruit, including strawberries, peaches and blueberries, along with whipped cream and powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 inch spring form pan with butter and dust with sugar. Combine cheese, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.
Beat until smooth. Incorporate the yolks, one at a time. Add flour until just combined on low speed. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until firm.
Add 1/3 of whites into the cheese mixture to lighten and then fold in remaining whites. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown (About 45 minutes.)
Cool completely before serving. Top with optional fruits and whipped cream. Dust with powdered sugar.
Yields 8-10 servings
More information about Rainbeau Ridge:
Rainbeau Ridge, a "real and accessible" farm, is located in Bedford Hills, NY, forty miles northwest of New York City.
In 2002, owners Lisa and Mark Schwartz set out to create a place where people young and old could feel at home, connect to the land, sense the awe of nature, gain a comfort with animals and with the cycle of life, and could learn to cook, eat and savor locally produced cheese and produce.
Rainbeau Ridge hand-ladled goat cheese is made practically in your backyard.
Nestled in a corner of Bedford Hills, New York, Rainbeau Ridge is home to a herd of Alpine goats, all of whom were born on the farm. Starting with two milking does in 2002, Lisa Schwartz (the farm's creator and cheesemaker) has learned to milk goats, assist her does with kidding and make wonderfully fresh goat cheese.
Trained in France by cheese maker, Sylvianne, and goat herdsman husband, Yves, Lisa continues to explore the craft and looks forward to offering several varieties during the season.
Made fresh daily, the cheese is simple, not goaty. Sometimes ash-coated and sometimes aged, other variations include mixed herb, li'l bloom, chevre logs, and cranberry walnut, to name a few.
Types of Goat Cheese:
Chef's Choice: These soft, unmolded curds accommodate your imagination. Flexible and adaptable, it's ready to combine with wherever the mood takes you; sun-dried tomatoes, figs, rosemary?
ChevreLait: Our core cheese, our classic fresh chevre is made of farmstead pasteurized goat milk from hand-ladled, salted curd. As the name suggests, ChevreLait is the purest, most immediate capturing of the goats' milk. Its delicacy comes from its closeness to the source. ChevreLait is also moister than most fresh chevre, it is creamy, not crumbly, which may affect a cheesecake recipe, for example. It will soften as it warms but will not melt away.
While widely-available log goat cheeses, both domestic and imported, will work just fine in our recipes, many mass-produced soft goat cheeses have the goaty, sharp tang of citric acid used to accelerate the acidification process. Be sure to taste your goat cheese prior to using it in a recipe to see that its flavor will complement, not compete with, the recipe's flavors.
Meridian: Organic, edible vegetable carbon ash mix adds a subtle, earthy flavor to our ChevreLait round. With the French influence, a vein of ash also transverses the five-inch round of our Meridian. The word 'meridian' itself can mean middle, but it also suggests a prime moment or crescendo.
MontVivant: Shaped into the eight-ounce, traditional, truncated pyramid, similar to the French Valencay, this lightly aged, ashed and salted cheese is denser and slightly drier than the rounds. As its name suggests, MontVivant will continue to come to life with additional ripening time. It has an evolving taste and texture and will ripen in the refrigerator until a creamier layer forms just under the thicker rind, leaving the center still firm. In its round form, a nearly one-pound wheel, RondVivant extends the cheese's serving options.