Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

Here in northern Michigan we are poised to enter the summer fruit season…with the prospect of NO fruit this year! Repeated spring frosts have decimated the blossoms on virtually all of our fruit crops. So no apricots, strawberries, peaches, raspberries, cherries (gasp!), even apples are threatened. Horrors.

I am just hoping that the wild blackberries have escaped this awful fate. As a talisman against this eventuality, I offer the following dessert, courtesy of Blondie’s Cakespot.

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart
Adapted from Always With Butter

1 cup flour
pinch of salt
7 Tbsp butter, room temp
3 oz cream cheese, room temp

6 oz fresh goat cheese
4 oz cream cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

12 oz blackberries (or more)
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp thyme leaves

– Combine everything in a food processor and pulse a few times until the dough is uniform. Turn out onto a piece of saran wrap, shape into a flat disk and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. It will be a very soft dough at this point so you definitely need to chill it to make it workable.
– Preheat the oven to 350F. The original instructions tell you to grease a 12×8″ tart pan, but I used my 9″ round one and didn’t grease it and everything still came out beautifully.
– On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and fit into your tart pan, trimming the edges. Stick it into the freezer. If you have some extra dough left over, re-roll it and make an extra mini-tart for later.

– Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Pour into the pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Once the top is just slightly puffy and golden you should be all set.
– Let the tart cool completely, top with berries (as many as you like), a drizzle of honey over the top, and shower with the rest of the thyme leaves, if you like a savory note.


Norwegian Meatballs

When we lived in Minneapolis, Swedish meatballs were a beloved entree in many households, including ours. We always made ours with sour cream. This recipe from (by way of Culture magazine!) uses Gjetost, or Norwegian goat cheese, so of course, we figured it’s fair game to adjust it to include fresh chèvre from Birchbark Farm! Yums!

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Servings: 8


      • 2 lbs ground beef
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 cup milk or 1 cup broth
      • 1/2 cup flour or 1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs

Gjetost sauce

    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 3/4 cup light cream
    • 1/2 cup chicken broth
    • 1 cup chèvre
    • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh dill


  1. Mix vigorously to blend (by hand or electric mixer) all the ingredients above.
  2. Shape into 3/4 inch meatballs with moistened hands.
  3. Pour 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan. Place over medium heat and add meatballs. Cook, shaking gently to turn meatballs, about 10 minutes for the meatballs. Remove as they brown.
  4. For Gjetost sauce: Remove as much oil from the pan as possible and blend in butter and flour. Remove from heat and blend in light cream. Add chicken broth, bring to boil, stirring and cooking until thickened. Mix in chèvre. Turn heat low.
  5. Add chopped parsley or fresh dill.
  6. Re-add meatballs and simmer until heated through.
  7. Serve with cooked rice or potatoes.

Spatchcocked Chèvre Chicken

If you are stumped by the title of this recipe, you are not alone! Apparently spatchcocking is a well-known term among butchers, and it just means to remove the backbone and breastbone of a chicken to make it cook faster (and result in a great presentation!) So read on, dear visitor, and discover the joys of stuffing your spatchcocked chicken with lemon-garlic chèvre under the skin! Yums! And thanks again to The Kitchn for a great recipe!

Spatchcocked Chèvre Chicken
serves 6

1 whole chicken, at least 3 1/2 pounds
1 1/2 cups fresh chèvre
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the innards from the chicken and reserve them for another use. Wash and pat dry the chicken.

Spatchcock (aka butterfly) the chicken using poultry shears or a sharp chef’s knife: first remove the backbone, slicing or cutting it along each side all the way down to the tail end. Splay the chicken open with the skin side up on a flat surface. Place the heel of your hands, one on top of the other, over the middle of the chicken. Press down to flatten the chicken. You may hear the breast-bone crack.

Run your fingers under the skin at the neck opening to loosen the skin around the breasts, reaching as far down as the legs if possible.

In a small bowl, combine the chèvre, parmesan, egg, bread crumbs, basil, garlic, lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.

Using a spoon, carefully stuff the cheese mixture into the chicken between the skin and the meat, starting at the breasts. Coax the mixture into an even layer by pressing and pushing it from the outside, above the skin. Place the chicken on a rack, or several 1/2-inch-thick slices of onion, in a roasting pan, skin side up. Rub it with about a tablespoon olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

Roast for an hour or until the juices run clear from the thigh. To test for doneness with a thermometer, check the breast meat for an internal temperature of 165°F. Transfer the chicken to a cutting surface and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

To serve, divide the chicken into quarters, splitting the two breasts into four pieces if desired.

Cannoli Cream/Chevre Calzone With Honey and Orange

Last weekend we made an apple strudel, with frozen puff pastry and frozen apples. It was ok, but I am swearing off frozen puff pastry because it tastes of vegetable oil instead of butter. Entirely unsatisfactory. Anyway, that less-than-successful endeavor set me up to be really curious about Mark Bittman’s intriguing dessert calzone, detailed below. And the picture. OMG, so seductive. So it’s back to dairy ingredients and real dough for this gal. Laced with honey and orange, such a dreamy confection! Thanks, Mark:)

Time: About 30 minutes


Extra virgin olive oil, as needed

1 1/4 cups fresh ricotta or mix of ricotta and chèvre

1 1/2 tablespoons honey, more as needed Finely grated zest of 1 orange

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 8-ounce ball pizza dough, divided into 2 pieces

All-purpose flour, as needed

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Confectioners’ sugar.


1. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta, honey, orange zest and cinnamon.

3. Lightly flour a work surface, and stretch or roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch round. Spread half the ricotta mixture on one side of each round, leaving a half-inch border. Brush the edges of one dough round with water, and fold dough in half, over filling; pinch the edges of the dough together to seal. Repeat with second dough round.

4. Transfer calzones to baking sheet. Brush the tops with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until crusts are golden brown and firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and drizzle with additional honey before serving.

Yield: 4 servings.

Variation: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips over the ricotta in each calzone before sealing.

For those of you who really need to see something demo’d to get the hang of putting it together, here’s the NYT Food Editor Melissa Clark assembling a savory calzone:

Banana Crepe Cake with Yogurt and Caramel Sauce

Not in a diet mood right now. This recipe will convince you of that. We have so much chèvre and yogurt, and this splendid cake comes along to show us how to use it to great caloric advantage! I swear it is something out of an Austro-Hungarian Kaffeehaus! Must. Make. Immediately. Thanks, Deb!

Banana Crepe Cake with Yogurt and Walnut Butterscotch

A whole bunch of cooking notes and tips: First, crepes are magical. Once you accept that the first one always goes in the trash, that things are really much easier with a non-stick pan, and if you struggle with crepe-flipping, try to embrace Deb’s weirdo two-spatula crepe-flipping technique, described below, you will hit your stride and wonder why you don’t make crepes more often. And you should, they keep fantastically well in the fridge, for a few days, even. They reheat well. They never stick to each other so you can just stack them up, no fancy separators required.

A note about banana flavor: The crepes taste the most strongly of banana when served simply. As other ingredients are added, like this filling, the banana flavor is less loud (but the overall flavor tumbles dreamily together). If you’d like it to scream banana, you might add paper-thin slices of banana throughout the crepe layers — it will also stack the cake higher.

This is perfect for a decadent brunch meal or party. Think of it as a replacement for french toast, coffee cake or buttery pastries. And although it sounds completely over-the-top, do make a great effort to keep it at least a little breakfasty: the crepes are barely sweetened, the filling remains tangy and only moderately sweet and the butterscotch is as small of a yield as needed to just cover the top.

If you’d like to pass the walnut butterscotch alongside cake servings, rather than drizzling it over the top of the cake, you should double the yield, and keep it warm so it stays pourable. If it still seems too thick, a little extra cream will thin it.

Yield: 11 to 12 9-inch crepes, or a 1 1/2-inch cake

Banana crepes
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing pan
1 large (6 ounce) speckly ripe banana (should yield a scant 1/2 cup pureed)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

Cream cheese (or chèvre)- yogurt filling
8 ounces cream cheese, well-softened, or half chèvre and half cream cheese (less fattening!)
1 1/2 cup plain Greek-style or goat yogurt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Walnut butterscotch topping
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or to taste

Make the crepe batter: Blend banana in a food processor until totally smooth. Add melted butter, blend again. Add remaining ingredients and blend until they are combined. Transfer batter, which will look pretty thin, to a bowl (even easier later if it has a spout), cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight, and up to two days. When you remove the batter, it will seem surprisingly thick. Stir it to redistribute the ingredients before using it.

Cook the crepes: Heat a medium skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, brush pan thinly with melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet, swirling it until it evenly coats the bottom and cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden and the top is set, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip* the crepe and cook it for 30 seconds on the other side, before transferring it to a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. You can stack your crepes and they should not stick together. Let crepes cool completely.

* Here’s Deb’s Weirdo Two-Spatula Crepe Flipping Method: Use two spatulas handy, one flexible fish-style spatula and one smaller, like an offset icing spatula. Slide the larger one just a little bit under the crepe and lift it enough that you can slide the smaller one under. Lift it enough that you can get the larger one far underneath the crepe, then use the larger one alone to flip it.

Make filling: Whip cream cheese (plus chèvre, if using) until fluffy, then beat in yogurt, 1/2 cup at a time. When fully combined, add sugar and vanilla then beat until rich and fluffy, just another minute.

Assemble crepe cake: Lay first crepe on a cake plate or serving platter. Spread with 1/4 cup of the yogurt-cream cheese filling. Repeat with all but the last remaining crepe, which should be stacked but have no filling on top, as it is the lid.

Make walnut butterscotch sauce: Combine the cream, brown sugar and butter in the bottom of a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more frequently as it reduces and thickens. You’ll know it’s done when it becomes thick and smells toasty. Stir in the vanilla and salt, then walnuts. Immediately pour over stack of filled crepes, nudging the butterscotch to the edges with your spoon — if it goes over the edge, so be it.

Serve immediately, or keep in fridge until ready to serve. Crepe cake keeps for up to 3 days, possibly longer, but good luck with that.

Al Forno’s Penne with Tomato Sauce, Cream and Five Cheeses

You can, of course, make this ridiculously simple entree without goat cheese…but would you want to? It’s perfect for that collection of cheese leftovers that hang around so many of our fridges. So easy you won’t believe it. Genius, in fact! Thank you to Food52!

Al Forno’s Penne with Tomato, Cream & Five Cheeses

Adapted very slightly from Cucina Simpatica: Robust Trattoria Cooking by Johanne Killeen & George Germon (Harper Collins, 1991)

Serves 4, or 6 to 8 as an appetizer

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes in heavy puree
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano (or aged hard goat) cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup coarsely shredded Fontina (or young goat Gouda) cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons fresh goat cheese
1/4 pound thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
6 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 pound penne rigate or conchiglie rigate
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, sliced thinly


You won’t meet a speedier baked pasta, not one this good.

The recipe comes from a couple of former artists who, on the eve of opening their first restaurant in 1980, felt inspired to add baked pasta to their menu after seeing one in a smoky photo in an old Gourmet magazine.

It’s time to get acquainted with oven-baked pasta, because once you know about it, you’ll never shy away from inviting company for dinner; never wonder what to make to cheer someone up; never go out seeking solace in shoddy takeout, when comfort is right in your pantry (and cheese drawer).


Here’s how it comes together: gather your cheeses; mix them into a slurry with canned tomatoes, basil, and a pint of cream in a big bowl. Boil a pound of pasta briefly (four minutes only), then drain and add that in too.


Portion the whole mess into whatever shallow baking vessels you have, scatter some butter shavings across the top, and roast in a 500 degree oven for oh, about 10 minutes.


The first time you make it, you won’t trust it. The sauce, at first, looks thin and sketchy. It seems your poor penne will be undercooked (it’s only boiled for 4 minutes out of an alleged 13). You will wonder if eating all that cream and cheese is wise, and why five different cheeses needed to get involved.


Don’t worry. During that brief time in the hot oven, the cream will bubble up to just barely finish cooking the pasta, travelling up the tubes and into the crevices, to be trapped until you pick up a forkful and hot cream spurts out under your teeth. Al Forno uses penne and conchiglie rigate interchangeably — both are good vehicles for cream delivery.


Meanwhile, the uppermost noodles poke up like periscopes. They’ll stay a little chewy and the tips will singe to a crisp. You wouldn’t want to eat a whole pan full of burnt pasta ends, but here they’re the most precious, sought-after bits.
All those cheeses you questioned melt into a rich but nuanced sauce — except for the slices of fresh mozzarella. They stay behind in little patches of molten goo that, once disturbed, leave behind stringy trails as you twirl them up. Full of surprises, this pasta.

You could swap tomato puree for the diced ones, but it’s nice to keep the cream barely tinted with tomato. And left whole, the bright clumps of tomato are points of relief that renew your hunger for more cream.


Goat Cheese-graced Knishes

Because I’m from Michigan, the first thing I think of when you say pastry-enclosed potatoes and veggies is PASTIES. No, not with a long a, but a short a. These are Cornish meat and potato hand pies, originally made for the coal miners of southern England to take down into the mines with them for lunch. Knishes, I suppose, are just Jewish pasties…and from a much older tradition, I imagine. Come to think of it, these are also a good deal like Russian pieroshki. Everybody into the pool, why not?!

So how could I avoid bringing these knishes to you, especially when I found a recipe that has been enhanced by the addition of chèvre? Yums! Thanks to Joe Pastry, you can have your potatoes, flaky dough, goat cheese, and eat them too!



One of the nice things about this dough is how easy it is to prepare and store. You just mix it up, let it sit for an hour, and it’s ready to use. Or, you can refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it, up to several days.

11 ounces all-purpose (AP) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil (very soft rendered chicken fat [schmalz], if you can find it, is even better)
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup lukewarm water

Whisk together your dry ingredients, beat the egg in a small bowl, and combine the vegetable oil, vinegar and water in a separate bowl or measure. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten egg and the wet ingredients. Bring the dough together with a spatula, then knead lightly into a ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit for an hour at room temperature to relax and hydrate.


Whisk together your dry ingredients.

Then make a well in the center and add your beaten egg…

…followed by the wet ingredients.

Bring the dough together with a spatula…

…then knead it lightly into a ball. It will be somewhat oily feeling. That’s what you want. Let the dough rest and hydrate for an hour. It may weep a little bit of oil as it sits. That’s perfectly OK.

Meanwhile make your filling. Here I’ve got three medium red potatoes (cooked), about half a cup of deeply caramelized yellow onions (one onion diced finely, cooked gently in two tablespoons of vegetable oil over low heat for a little over an hour), about a two-ounce blob of fresh goat cheese, and a teaspoon of salt.

Mashed. This isn’t nearly enough filling for this amount of dough, but it’s a good “for-instance.” Knishes are great stuffed with just about any leftovers you have in the fridge.

When you’re ready to shape your knishes, generously flour a dough board. Pull off a piece of dough from the ball and start rolling. You’ll find that as long as you use enough flour, it’s a very flexible and forgiving dough that rolls out easily. Roll it out as thin as you can without the dough tearing. The precise shape of your sheet isn’t important. A rough rectangle is just fine.

When the dough is nice and thin, apply a long mound of filling to the bottom edge. I’m making rather small knishes, so my filling mound is small. For bigger knishes, well, you know what to do.

Then — and you can probably see where this is going — enclose the filling to form a long roll.

Roll the dough up in the sheet, but not terribly tightly. Knishes tend to want to break open in the oven. A little slack will help prevent this. Since this dough sheet is very thin, I keep rolling until the tube has about two layers on it. Some people really go nuts in this step and roll their dough out even thinner so as to give the tube four or five flaky layers. Me, I’m happy with two. Some like a thicker crust in just one layer. It’s really up to you.

When you’ve got as much crust on your knishes as you like, use a pizza cutter to trim off the excess. Add the scraps back to the dough ball for re-rolling.

Trim the excess, if there is much, from the ends.

Now to shape the actual knishes. This is very like making sausage. You want to pinch off about a three or four-inch length.

Give it a twist.

Then using your pizza cutter, cut it off.

The result is indeed like a small sausage. Pinch the ends shut to enclose the filling.

Turn the knish end-up on the pastry board…

…and with your palm push it down to form a squat cylinder.

Poke the top down with your finger to keep the center from crowning in the oven.

Lay the knishes out on sheet pans — these don’t need any proofing — and either bake, refrigerate (up to three days) or freeze (up to three months).

When ready to bake, paint with egg wash…

…and bake 30-40 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit until the crusts are golden brown.

 Now wasn’t that special??