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Posts Tagged ‘goat cheese’

After a day of incredible beauty, I feel drained.

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It’s hard to imagine that one could ever become accustomed to the breathtaking sights we saw today.

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Three very different yet very beautiful French towns were visited, and after 8 hours of oohing and aahing, I can’t wait to sit back, relax, and process the wonderful day I’ve had.

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Katie and I slept in today- luckily not as late as yesterday. While she showered, I ate breakfast and planned the driving route we would take.

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As I showered, she ate and recorded the driving directions in writing. We’re a good team like that.

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The offline android navigation system Sebastian lovingly prepared for us unfortunately has yet to work, so Katie and I are back to written directions, following maps and learning from our wrong turns.

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We’ve actually been doing very well considering that most of the roads we’ve been driving are unmarked tiny French country roads; known by the local farmers but unfamiliar and baffling to the American tourists.

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The first stop of the day was to visit Saint-Léonard-des-Bois, a small village located in the valley straddled by the Normandy and Western Loire borders.

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Popular for outdoor activities, this village boasts hiking paths, canoeing routes, mountain biking trails and rock climbing. 

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Katie and I wandered around the center of the village and hiked up a very steep path in hopes of obtaining a panoramic view of the village below.

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We were unsuccessful in our sight seeing, but got our hearts beating along the way.

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Once back down the hill, we took in the remaining sights of the bridged river.

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On the road again, we navigated our way to the second stop of the day, my favorite village, Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei.

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Situated almost as an island surrounded by the river Sarthe, this village has not surprisingly attracted artists since the 19th century.

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If any little village will inspire creativity, this is certainly it.

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The natural colors of the stone houses surrounded by woodlands and bursts of blossoming color made me want to set up an easel and attempt to capture the beauty around me.

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Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei felt oh so very French.

Our oh so French lunch fit right in to this village.

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Baguette with goat cheese, arugula, tomatoes and fresh cracked pepper- packed this morning. We also had chips and brownies.

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Katie and I enjoyed our very French picnic along the banks of the river Sarthe.

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A more pleasanter spot for a relaxing picnic, I could not imagine.

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We ate on the large rock overlooking the bridge to the right and the church to the left.

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Rightfully named as one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France "The most beautiful villages of France," the town was not only beautiful, but tranquil, reverent and calming.

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I could easily move to this village and spend my days painting amongst the natural world around me.

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We had a good long wander about.

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We looked into the church, walked around the chapel and even watched a group of school children play a game of ball from canoes. P7139186

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After pulling ourselves away from the picturesque French village, Katie and I found our way to the town of Fresnay-sur-Sarthe.

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Actually, it was the second time we’d found our way to Fresnay; the original arrival unbeknownst to us, as we turned around after our first and worse misnavigation of the day.

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Sadly, my camera battery died just as we entered our third and final town, so the remainder of my day was captured using the camera from my phone.

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Although it was no Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, Fresnay-sur-Sarthe was a small town with big character. IMAG0105

Complete with medieval walls, a dungeon, stunning bridges and stone houses that have become jagged and crooked with time, Fresnay was unlike the other two villages we had visited today.

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We spent a bit of time in the beautiful Church of Notre-Dame where three very friendly old ladies were eager to share their English booklets explaining the history and symbolism of the church.

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The next moment of awe occurred as we viewed the town below from the medieval walls. The Sarthe river laid the way for yet another round of beautiful photographs.

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Once we’d seen all that we thought we could see for the day, we decided to drive back ‘home’ to the gite.

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As luck would have it, the most inviting sunflower fields lined our way back. IMAG0143

We couldn’t help but park the car and capture the brilliantly cheerful sunflowers.

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Driving away, we agreed that this was the way a vacation should be.

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Back at the gite, I prepared dinner while Katie wrote in her journal. We had roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary. Katie ate chicken nuggets with avocado and I had patties made with lentils and mixed vegetables over arugula.

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Attempting to take in as much beauty as possible in a day can drain a person.

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After enjoying a glass of red wine, I feel like it’s time for bed. I’d better be off- we have another full day planned for tomorrow.

Bonne nuit.

Good night!

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While writing my pizza post from last night, I realized I never shared the previous week’s pizza.

This pizza was too good not to share.

I had a fennel bulb from my CSA delivery that needed to be used so I slowly cooked the thinly sliced bulb in a bit of olive oil along with a red onion until just before tender.

I then poured in a couple heavy glugs of balsamic vinegar and continued to cook the mixture until the vinegar reduced by over half and became thick.

Fresh yeast pizza dough naturally formed the base of the pizza, topped with a very light brushing of tomato sauce and then the fennel mixture. I used fresh mozzarella and goat cheese along with sliced black olives.

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This combination was amazing.

Once baked and out of the oven, I sprinkled some of the fennel greens over top.

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Sweet balsamic and salty cheese.

Delicious!

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Keeping with tradition, tonight was pizza night.

This pizza was so simple to put together.

Faster than ordering delivery and deliciously fresh.

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I used a thawed and risen portion of fresh yeast pizza dough as a base.

Topped it with leftover marinara sauce, fresh crimini mushrooms, eggplant and garlic, then used an assortment of cheeses, including fresh mozzarella, parmesan and crumbly goat cheese.

I sprinkled the pizza with Italian seasoning, drizzled the top with olive oil then baked it on my oven’s hottest setting until cooked.

Awesome.

Now I want the leftovers.

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Straight from the recipe section of the organic grocer’s monthly magazine.

This recipe is simple yet elegant. The original recipe called for blue cheese but I opted for goat cheese instead.

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Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Apple

4 servings

Ready in 30 minutes

  • 250 grams (just over 1 cup) Puy lentils
  • 3 Tbsp. walnut oil
  • 4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 red apple
  • lettuce, I used lamb’s lettuce
  • 80 grams goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the lentils according to package instructions. Strain and cool cooked lentils. Mix together the walnut oil and lemon juice. Set aside 2 Tbsp of dressing and mix the remaining amount into the cooled lentils along with salt to taste.
  2. Core the apple and then slice into very thin ribbons. Cover the apple slices in the remaining dressing.
  3. Serve the lentils on the lettuce. Top with the apple ribbons and crumbled goat cheese.

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Good enough to eat for lunch again tomorrow.

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I’d like to begin this post by mentioning that Jenna is a genius.

I came.

I saw.

I conquered.

P9089227 I followed Jenna’s recipe pretty closely but made a few changes based on the ingredients I had on hand. These changes are shown below. To see her original pizza dough recipe, look here. To see her original cheesy zucchini pizza recipe, look here .

P9089150Dough before rising.

P9089166 Dough after rising.

P9089181 Use half of the prepared dough for this recipe and save or freeze the other half for later use.

P9089152 My grater fits perfectly inside a cereal bowl; great for grating management.

P9089157 Ricotta and garlic ready to mingle.

P9089159 Fresh mozzarella and goat cheese.

P9089160 Add the cheeses to the shredded and drained zucchini.

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P9089174 Form half of the dough onto a a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet lined with baking paper.

P9089176Top the dough with the ricotta mixture.

P9089178  Spread and season with salt and pepper if your forgot to do it earlier.

P9089183 Top the pizza with the cheesy zucchini mixture.

P9089186Sprinkle with some spice.

P9089224  Bake to perfection.

P9089226 Eat alone as a complete meal or…

P9099258together with something else.

Either way, this recipe is a winner!

Cheesy Zucchini Pizza

Ingredients

For 2 pizza dough

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • cornmeal for dusting

For the cheese sauce

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the zucchini

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, about 3/4 cup
  • 3/4 cup soft goat cheese
  • crushed red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Proof the yeast in a small bowl with the warm water and sugar. Wait 10 minutes, or until bubbly. Mix together the flours and salt.
  2. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the proofed yeast and olive oil. Mix well. Kneed on a floured surface for 5-8 minutes, or until elastic.
  3. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and let rest in a warm place, covered with plastic wrap for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing the ricotta and garlic. Season with salt and pepper then set aside.
  5. Grate the zucchinis into a clean kitchen towel. Squeeze out any extra liquid. Add to a medium-sized bowl and mix together with the torn mozzarella and crumbled goat cheese- hands work well for mixing!Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Dust a large baking sheet with cornmeal. Shape half of the pizza dough and place it on the prepared pan.
  7. Spread the cheese sauce over the dough and top that with the zucchini mixture. Sprinkle with crushed red chili flakes, if desired.
  8. Bake in an oven, preheated to 450 F, for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted. Cool slightly, cut and enjoy with a glass of wine!

Even Sebastian, the zucchini hater thought this recipe was fantastic. “Much better than frozen pizza.”

I’d have to agree whole-heartedly!

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Happy Monday Everyone!

I hope your weekend was a good one and you were able to spend time with all the important fathers in your life.

Today went very quickly. By the time I came home from work, I was hungry.

Not only was I hungry and needed to eat in a hurry, but I was craving more goat cheese after my delicious lunch salad.

Butter lettuce, fresh goat cheese from the market, red peppers and balsamic glaze.

Dinner was inspired by my assistant and a recipe she told me about involving goat cheese, butternut squash and puff pastry.

My time spent in the French region at the market yesterday is also probably to blame for this wonderful creation!

Apple, Red Onion and Goat Cheese Pastry

Ingredients

  • 1 roll puff pastry
  • 1 small container reduced-fat créme fraîche
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced in rings
  • 1 roll goat cheese, sliced
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 430° F (220° C.) Unroll the puff pastry and place it on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  2. Spread the créme fraîche over the pastry, leaving a half-inch border.
  3. Layer the red onions, apples, and goat cheese, sprinkle with the chopped rosemary.
  4. Brush the pastry border with beaten egg.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cheese is melted and the pastry is golden brown.

All that you need, minus the rosemary.

The hard part is already done for you.

A creamy foundation

Sweet red onion rings

I wasn’t sure about the apples so only used half.

Next time I’m going all out as the apple added the perfect sweetness.

Gotta love the goat cheese!

Fresh rosemary sprinkles

Baked until flakey and golden brown.

Served with steamed broccoli.

So rich and luxurious!

From start to finish, this recipe took no more than 25 minutes to complete. The result was amazing!

Too rich for a meal, this would make the perfect appetizer. Pair it with a nice white wine and you’re set to go. Compliments will most certainly ensue.

Give it a go!

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If it’s true that you are what you eat, by the time I wake up tomorrow, I expect to be a heap of goat’s cheese.

Hopefully the balance from my other eats will save me from this cheesy destiny.

Breakfast

Coffee Oats

1/4 cup oats, milk, coffee

1 T. ground flax

1/2 tsp. hazelnut flavored coffee syrup

cinnamon, coconut flakes, flax, and hemp

home made almond butter

Lunch

Leftover mushroom ravioli topped with steamed broccoli and tomato basil sauce

Lunch was another lunch date with my students. Today I was finally told that I do sometimes eat “normal” food.

I had an apple after school while marking work then headed home to tackle the huge pile of dishes I’ve allowed to accumulate over the last 2 days. Yuck! I’ve just felt so blah lately that my Suzy homemaker ambitions have slacked off.

After 2 days of super gluing, I think I’ve fixed the shelf that broke in my refrigerator earlier this week. While placing my condiments back in their place (in a much more weight balanced way,) I decided to eliminate one more jar by scooping out the delicious feta and herb bits in the bottom of my empty Patros jar.

Yes, I save empty jars to eat the herby bits at the bottom.

Later, I met up with some friends for a bit of pool at the Irish pub and then dinner at a new Turkish restaurant in town.

It was another beautiful day here in Germany, this is the view from my apartment building. I can see 2 different castles from my home. It gives me goosebumps of excitement almost every morning.  Pinch me, is this really my home?

Zoe and Will strategizing their next moves.

The best part of the meal- hot sesame seed rolls with garlic herb butter.

Appetizer of  herbed goat’s cheese cooked two ways. Good but a bit too salty.

Turkish take on eggplant parmesan. Eggplant and, you guessed it, goat cheese baked in a tomato cream sauce.

Dinner was great, as was the company. We laughed so much the chef came out to meet us. I think he was just curious as to who was enjoying his restaurant so much. Either that, or as Zoe suggested, he thought I was a food critic what with the picture-taking and all. (I’ve not told any of them about the blog… so I’m just strangely artistic to them.) I would definitely go back again. Next time, I think I’ll order a small salad, eat loads of the bread rolls, and then try the desert! Can we say baklava?

Thank you to everyone for your supportive comments yesterday. Your kind words of encouragement and prayers mean a lot to me. Today I woke up in a lot of pain but have been taking the muscle relaxant pills and ibuprofen which have helped. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will continue the healing process.

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