With work picking up again after a slow start coming back from maternity leave, this project, and our ever-growing obsession, I haven’t had nearly as much time as I would like to make or share recipes from the wealth of stellar cookbooks that have come out this spring. There are so many! But I’ll get there. For now, I’m starting with an impossibly clever recipe I made awhile back from Alexandra Stafford’s Bread Toast Crumbs. At the heart of the book is a recipe for peasant bread you might know of already (it has over 3,000 comments on her original post!) but its genius is even greater because from there she has about a million (more precisely 135) more creative things to do with the bread or ways to tweak the recipe.
These crispy goat cheese rounds are a case in point. How many times have I had goat cheese in salad? At this point, is it more accurate to ask when I haven’t had goat cheese in my salad? But how Alexandra does it, by breading the goat cheese and frying it up into crisp little rounds, is a way I never would have thought to have goat cheese before. And, especially with cheese from my favorite Vermont Creamery, I’m kind of convinced it might just be the best.
I’ve yet to meet a food that wasn’t improved when breaded and fried (see, e.g., everything at the State Fair, or this mecca), and goat cheese is no different. But not only does it add that deep, savory fried umami that comes when anything is sizzled merrily in oil until golden, there’s something about these crispy rounds that mellows the tang of pungent goat cheese yet preserves its funky flavor, and the texture of the cheese rounds isn’t just crisp on the outside but a bit firmer and bouncier inside from the brief heat.
On top of that, Alexandra’s method streamlines the process with the canny observation that whisking the flour and egg together turns a three-step dredging process into two, and stretches one recipe into two by giving you two ways to serve the rounds — savory, on a bed of greens with a perfect tangy shallot vinaigrette, or sweet, drizzled with honey for dessert. It’s as though she knew I had a baby or something.
I hope you enjoy, and that you’re all having wonderful summers.
Thank you to Vermont Creamery for sponsoring this post! All opinions are, as always, my own.
crispy goat cheese rounds with shallot vinaigrette
Reprinted with permission from Bread Toast Crumbs, by Alexandra Stafford (Clarkson Potter, 2017).
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, plus more as needed
- Kosher salt
- Pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
- Pinch of sugar (I used a spoonful of honey)
- 8-ounce log of goat cheese, cut into six ¾-inch slices (I used Vermont Creamery)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup homemade dried bread crumbs or panko
- Neutral oil, for frying
- Flaky sea salt, for finishing
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 5 ounces (about 8 cups) salad greens
- 2 beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- In a medium bowl, place the shallots and cover them with the vinegar. Season with a pinch each of salt, pepper, and sugar. Set aside to macerate for at least 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slightly flatten each goat cheese round to a ½-inch thickness.
- In a shallow medium bowl, whisk the egg with the flour, 1 tablespoon water, and a pinch of salt. Place the crumbs in a shallow, rimmed dish, such a small sheet pan. Dip a goat cheese round in the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off, then into the bread crumbs, pressing them to adhere. Repeat with the remaining rounds.
- Heat a thin layer of neutral oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When it begins to shimmer, gently place the breaded rounds into the sauté pan — they should sizzle on contact. Immediately reduce the heat to low. After 1 to 2 minutes, when the rounds begin to brown on the bottom, flip each and brown the other side. Cook 1 to 2 minutes more, then use a spatula to remove each to a clean paper-towel-lined plate. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
- Whisk the olive oil into the macerated shallots. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, vinegar, or oil as needed. Toss the greens and tomatoes with the dressing. Arrange them on a platter beside the crispy goat cheese rounds.
Alexandra notes that the rounds can be chilled in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up a day in advance.
For a savory-sweet dessert, drizzle the rounds with honey. I also sprinkled them with some crushed nuts and, just because sometimes more is more, added a swipe of fig jam.
Vermont Creamery’s various flavors worked wonderfully for these — to my surprise, I liked the crispy rounds best with honey on the Three Peppercorn and Herb de Provence (though that could just be my wackadoo tastes) and plain with the shallot vinaigrette.
Being out of tomatoes, I used ribboned purple carrots, instead.