My latest culinary research project has been working with goat cheese. Also known as “chevre”, the French word for goat, this cheese is usually soft and spreadable, with a delightfully tart flavor. Although goat cheese just started to gain mainstream popularity here in the United States, the Pilgrims brought goats with them in 1620, and the historians at Plimouth Plantation write that the first harvest meal (Thanksgiving) featured a fresh goat cheese.
Here in my kitchen, I substitute equal parts of goat cheese for cream cheese in recipes, preferring to enjoy food produced by my local farmers, and a product that is not manufactured with gums and fillers. Chevre is delicious spread on bagel, as part of a sandwich, sprinkled on salads and melted in an omelet.
According to the Maine Cheese Guild, Maine boasts over 80 licensed cheesemakers, and Hancock county is home to many fine artisan cheesemakers. Seal Cove Farm in Lamoine has been producing chevre since 1976, and Sunset Acres Farm in Brooksville milks over 100 goats. On the island of Deer Isle we have three goat dairies: Red Barn Farm, Yellow Birch Farm, and Spruce Hill Farm., all producing delicious, hand-crafted cheeses.
The recipe for Goat Cheese Crackers is a “foodie” take on the cheez-it cracker. Butter, goat cheese and flour create a delicate dough log that is then rolled in cracked pepper, or herbes de Provence, or garlic salt and poppy seeds. Once chilled, the log slices easily into rounds, which are baked until golden brown. These crackers are perfect to serve with tomato soup, or cocktails, and are a treat when tucked into the lunch box. Double the batch and freeze the logs for a quick and easy afternoon snack.
GOAT CHEESE CRACKERS
- 5 ounces fresh goat cheese at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon Sea salt
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper, garlic salt & poppy seeds, or seasoning of choice.
- In the bowl of your food processor or electric mixer, cream together the goat cheese and butter. Beat in the flour and sea salt.
- Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll the dough back and forth, creating a log about 12 inches long.
- Roll the log in the ground pepper, or garlic salt and poppy seed, or seasonings of your choice. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or as long as 3 days.
- To prepare: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using a serrated knife, cut the cheese log into 24 slices, each about ½ inch thick and place on a sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn and continue baking until the crackers are a rich golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Let cool completely. Flavors develop best if crackers sit for several hours or overnight.