Goat Cheese Cobbler
Though it borrows the name of a popular dessert, this is a savory appetizer from start to finish. The sauce of fresh fruit juices in balsamic vinegar provides a perfect contrast to the creamy cheese filling.
- Unbleached All-purpose flour - 3 cups, sifted
- Sugar - 1 tablespoon
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Unsalted Butter - 1 cup (2 sticks), at room temperature, cut into pieces
- Ice Water - 3 to 4 tablespoons
- Cream Cheese - 1 , at room temperature
- Sour Cream - 3/4 cup
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Eggs - 3
- Fresh Goat Cheese - 8 ounces, at room temperature
- Ginger Paste
- Fresh Ginger - 1/2 cup peeled, sliced
- Rice Wine Vinegar - 2 cups
- Dry white wine - 1/2 cup
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper - 1 tablespoon
- Verjus Sauce
- Green Grapes - 2-1/2 pounds
- Red Grapes - 1 pound
- Pear - 1, cored, peeled, and chopped
- Apple - 1, cored, peeled, and chopped
- Orange - 1, peeled, seeded, sectioned, and chopped
- Balsamic Vinegar - 1 cup
- Unsalted Cold Butter - cup (2 sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces
- Ginger Paste - (above)
- Baby Greens - 4 cups (a combination of red oak lettuce, spinach, arugula, and watercress)
- Verjus Sauce - 1/2 cup (above)
- Balsamic Vinegar - 1 tablespoon
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese - 1/3 cup
- Hazelnuts - 1 cup (5 ounces), toasted, skinned, and coarsely chopped
- Water - 1 cup
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Granny Smith apple - 1 unpeeled
- Hazelnuts - 1/2 cup (2-1/2 ounces), toasted, skinned, and coarsely chopped
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup
To make the crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Remove 1 cup of this mixture and set aside. Gradually add the ice water to the remaining mixture, stirring with a fork, until the dough holds together when pressed between the fingers.
Divide the dough into 8 portions and roll each between 2 sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Remove 1 sheet of the paper on each and fit the dough into 3-inch tart pans. Reserve left-over dough crumbs. Remove the remaining papers. Cut eight 5-inch circles of parchment or aluminum foil and press one into each tart pan over the dough. Pierce the dough through the paper or foil with the tip of a knife, then fill the shells with dried beans or pie weights. Refrigerate the unbaked shells for 20 minutes or more.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Bake the tart shells for 15 to 20 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and remove the beans (or weights) and paper or foil. Let cool completely.
To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375 F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, and salt, and beat on medium speed until blended. With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time, then add the salt and pepper. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides, then add the goat cheese and mix until blended. Spoon the filling into the tart shells and sprinkle the top with the reserved dough crumbs. Immediately bake the tarts for 1 hour. Or, the tarts may be refrigerated, then brought back to room temperature and baked later.
To make the ginger paste: In a heavy medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except the black pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until all the liquid has evaporated and only a paste remains. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor, then add the pepper. Set aside to cool.
To make the verjus sauce: use an electric juice extractor to juice the grapes, pear, apple, and orange. Add the balsamic vinegar and measure the quantity; you should have about 7 cups. Place the juices in a small, heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat to reduce to about 1 cup. Still over medium-high heat, but without boiling, whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time, stirring constantly to completely incorporate each batch. Whisk in the ginger paste.
To make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the greens and add some of the verjus, vinegar, and oil. Toss to coat the greens with the dressing, then add the Parmesan and nuts.
To serve: Combine the water and lemon juice in a bowl. Peel and core the apple. Cut the apple into matchstick pieces and drop the pieces into the lemon-water to keep them from browning. Place 1 cobbler on each of eight large serving plates. Ladle some of the remaining verjus sauce around the edge of each cobbler and place approximately 1/2 cup of salad on one side of each plate. Drain the apple julienne and sprinkle it over each plate. Sprinkle the plates with nuts and Parmesan cheese.