Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Goat Cheese Danish, Thanks to the Lovely Andrea

Before you say anything let me tell you that I know. I know. I have been neglecting the blog. I have been unfocused. I have been easily distracted. I haven’t even been cooking very much.

What have I been doing?

What have I been doing.

I’m not really sure. I guess part of what’s been going on is that the seasonal shift from winter to spring has finally happened. Now, instead of scurrying through the short days, trying to be as industrious as possible before darkness and cold descends, friends call at noon to say they are drinking beer on the porch. They say that they are enjoying the warmth and sunshine, and that I should come over. At noon. To drink. Sometimes on a Monday. But I didn’t just write that.

Or, there was that Saturday a few weekends back when a friend and I decided to tune up and dust off our bicycles so that we could take rides anytime, all the time. And since we fixed mine up (which had been sitting unused in the garage since I took a nasty spill during an unexpected rainstorm in 2008) I have been going for rides a lot, instead of making things.

Then last weekend my parents asked if I would help them in the garden. I planted rows of bush beans, and made little dirt mounds for zucchini, sprinkled basil seeds, and dill seeds, “Scarlet Nantes” carrot seeds. I watered little pepper plants, shoveled compost that was full of wiggling pink worms into the wheelbarrow. Helped my mother mulch the dahlia beds.

And then this happened:
Welcome to the wilderness little brother....

BUT THEN a few days ago my friend Andrea, who keeps goats, asked if I would like to come over and make goat cheese filled Danish.

And of course I said yes.

My friend Andrea, who I already told you keeps goats, has been making all sorts of delicious things with the goat milk. Fresh chevre, ricotta, yogurt, and ice cream.
Neither Andrea nor I had ever made Danish before, and the normal pastry dough recipe for Danish that Andrea and I found involved too many "roll out the dough and then refrigerate for 30 minutes” stages. Instead, we found a quick method recipe from the cookbook Baking With Julia, which worked beautifully. Andrea read the directions while I rolled out the dough, and then folded it. At first we didn’t understand why you have to keep rolling it out and then “fold it like a business letter.”

“What is the point of this?” I kept asking every time Andrea told me to do it. “Why does this matter?”

“I don’t know,” she kept responding. “Just do it.”

This question was answered when we took the adorable little Danish out of the oven and the dough had risen in little flaky, buttery,  golden layers.

“This is why!” I cried holding the Danish in the palm of my hand. “By rolling it and and folding it over and over it makes it like this!”

Oh, the revelations of the self taught home cook. These are special moments indeed.

The goat cheese we used was a yogurt Andrea had made and then strained most of the liquid out of. The result was a delicious, soft cheese with a very understated tang. I don’t know how Andrea has been making the cheese. She is just going to have to enlighten us about it by guest blogging here soon.

We made two different combinations for the Danish. The first was goat cheese with stewed rhubarb from Andrea’s garden. I just put it in a pot with a little water and brown sugar and let it cook down. Then we also made a batch with the goat cheese and some lemon marmalade Andrea got at the farmer’s market. These were good too, and tasted sort of like lemon meringue pie.

Originally we were going to make the Danish into a “pinwheel” shape, as described in the Joy of Cooking. But I cut the squares too small so we just ended up leaving them as squares and then placing the cheese and filling on top. They were delicious.
My friend Rose and her daughter Ella arrived just as the Danish were conveniently coming out of the oven.

How many did you eat Rosie?!

I think it was at least five.


Danish Pastry, from Baking With Julia

Ingredients:

1/4 cup warm water (105ºF to 115ºF)
2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter

Instructions:

Mixing the Dough

Pour the water into a large bowl, sprinkle over the yeast, and let it soften for a minute. Add the milk, egg, sugar, and salt and whisk to mix; set aside.

Put the flour in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch-thick slices and drop them onto the flour. Pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is cut into pieces that are about 1/2 inch in diameter. Don't overdo this — the pieces must not be smaller than 1/2 inch.

Empty the contents of the food processor into the bowl with the yeast and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently turn the mixture over, scraping the bowl as needed, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Again, don't be too energetic-the butter must remain in discrete pieces so that you will produce a flaky pastry, not a bread or cookie dough.

Chilling the Dough

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 4 days, (if that better suits your schedule).

Rolling and Folding

Lightly flour a work surface (a cool surface, such as marble, is ideal), turn the dough out onto it, and dust the dough lightly with flour. Using the palms of your hands, pat the dough into a rough square. Then roll it into a square about 16 inches on a side. (A French rolling pin, one without handles, is best here.) Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, and turn it so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. (if at any time the dough gets too soft to roll, just cover it with plastic wrap and pop it into the refrigerator for a quick chill.)

Roll the dough out again, this time into a long narrow rectangle, about 10 inches wide by 24 inches long. Fold the rectangle in thirds again, turn it so the closed fold is to your left, and roll it into a 20-inch square. Fold the square in thirds, like a business letter, so that you have a rectangle, turning it so that the closed fold is to your left, and, once more, roll the dough into a long narrow rectangle, 10 inches wide by 24 inches long. Fold in thirds again, wrap the dough well in plastic, and chill it for at least 30 minutes, or for as long as 2 days. (Depending on what you plan to do with the dough, you might want to divide it in half now.)

The dough is now ready to be shaped, filled, and baked, following the recipes of your choice.

The dough can be kept covered in the refrigerator for 4 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for 1 month; thaw overnight, still wrapped, in the refrigerator.

Yield: Makes 2 pounds of dough

4 comments:

  1. Possibly 6 or 7 I think, geez. But they were delicious. Just looking at these photos makes me wish I had one right now!

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  2. Well, in your defense, they were kind of small. We should make more! Maybe you should come to the McGovern's this weekend and we could make them!!! ha ha

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  3. what a lovely way to live through spring -

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