Welcome to Shaking Up Chèvre, a six-part collaboration between Goat Cheeses of France—the official US campaign for spreading the word on the tasty goodness of French chèvre— culture, and some amazing food bloggers. Our mission? To hand down tips and tricks on how to cook with and pair French goat’s milk cheeses! In this post, sisters Leonore and Olivia Dicker of food and travel company Don’t Believe in Jet Lag think up some tasty ways to devour Tomme de Chèvre Bethmale and Valençay. Missed Monday’s post from Madame Fromage on Chabichou du Poitou and Sainte-Maure de Touraine? Read all about it!
You know you’re having a good day when Culture Magazine and Goat Cheeses of France send you two very generous portions of French goat cheese. We were asked to both incorporate them into a recipe and pair them with a homemade condiment, so we rolled up our sleeves and started cooking.
On the one hand, we had the Tomme de Chèvre Bethmale [tohm duh shehvr’ bett-mahl]: an aged, washed rind cheese with a semi-soft, silky paste and an earthy aroma, mixing smoky, meaty flavors with grassy notes.
On the other hand, we had the Valençay [vah-lahn-say]: a truncated pyramid-shaped cheese with an ash rind, creamy texture with tangy, woody notes, and a hazelnut finish.
Fun fact: Story has it that the Valençay was originally a perfectly formed pyramid, but that Napoleon angrily asked to chop the top off upon his return from a failed military campaign in Egypt.
In France, many believe that a cheese should be paired with fruits from the same region. For instance, Camembert should be enjoyed with green apple jelly, Comté with chestnut jam, and tommes from the Basque Country with black cherry or green tomato jam.
When we received our tomme de chèvre from the Midi-Pyrénées region (not too far from the Basque Country), we immediately thought of all the green tomatoes still (phew!) available at our local farmers’ market.
- 2 pounds of green tomatoes
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 lemon
- ¼ of a cup of minced ginger
- Bread (ours came from She Wolf Bakery)
- Cut the tomatoes into small pieces and mix them with the sugar in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 24 hours.
- Peel the lemon. Save the pulp. Boil the peel in water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse.
- Chop the ginger very finely.
- In a very large saucepan, place the lemon peel, lemon pulp, the chopped green tomatoes and the minced ginger.
- Boil the uncovered saucepan until the jam sets. Time of boil varies depending on the ripeness and size of your pieces. We boiled ours for approximately 2 hours. Once ready, let cool.
- Serve chilled at room temperature—and enjoy!
The first time we ever tested this recipe was a couple of years ago, on L’île d’Yeu (a little French island on the Atlantic Ocean near Vendée). We invited friends and neighbours for l’apéro and served this delicious thin-crust pizza. We have a confession (and please don’t judge us!): we didn’t make the dough. Instead we just asked our local pizzaria. This is a good tip for anyone who doesn’t have the time, energy, or skills: go to your local pizza place and just ask for a ball of uncooked dough to take home.
We used spicy honey, which you’d have to prepare at least 24 hours ahead. It’s always handy to have a jar in your cupboard as it perfectly complements any soft or hard goat cheese (and always impresses guests!). Drizzle it over your cheese and add bits of chilies to make it more colorful.
- Handful of fresh chillies, chopped
- Jar of liquid honey
- 1 ball of pizza dough
- 3 zucchinis (for a colorful pizza, we opted for 2 yellow ones and 1 green)
- 1 Valençay cheese (but you can also substitute another soft goat cheese)
- 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- A drizzle of olive oil
- A pinch of salt and pepper
- Throw chilies into jar of honey, and let sit for at least 24 hours.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- Using a vegetable peeler or a V-slicer and working from top to bottom, slice zucchini into ribbons. Mix the ribbons in a bowl with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Roll the dough out and stretch it to make one big pizza. Lift it onto a baking sheet and spread it out flat.
- Spoon the crème fraîche into the middle and spread it around. Cut the Valençay into chunks and place them over the crème fraîche.
- Place the zucchinis on top of the pizza and arrange them as you like. We just threw them over everything to give it a rustic look.
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes (timing is relative to your oven).
- Once cooked and out of the oven, drizzle some spicy honey on it and serve.
Tummy rumbling over these beautiful French goat cheeses? We got the answer to your culinary prayers! Visit Don’t Believe in Jet Lag and enter a contest sponsored by Goat Cheeses of France—you could win an exclusive package of five French goat cheeses, a collection of tried-and-true recipes, trivia cards, and temporary tattoos to show your Original Chèvre love. Check it out!