Wow, the holiday season that stretches from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day can be overwhelming, can’t it?! I love this season, but it often means having to put some things on the back burner, like posting recipes. But, I’m starting to catch up.
This delightful recipe is one I made for Thanksgiving. It was so great, we’re going to have it again either for Christmas dinner or at New Year’s. The ingredients are: 3 ounces (85 grams) of Melba toast; 1 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper; 3 large eggs; 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard; 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme flakes; 1 1/2 teaspoons dried chive; and 1 pound of goat cheese (450 grams).
I’d only vaguely heard of Melba toast before making this recipe. Melba toast is very thin crisp toasted bread slices, named after Australian opera star Dame Nellie Melba (according to Wikipedia).
Crush the Melba toasts (or equivalent) in a mini-food processor until it forms coarse crumbs. Set the crumbs aside.
Unwrap the goat cheese. It’s better to use a high-quality goat cheese for this recipe, one with enough added salt to give the cheese some heft when baked. (Yes, I know, I shouldn’t even say that about salt, but it’s true.) I happened to use Laura Chenel goat cheese, a great artisanal cheese from Sonoma Valley.
If using two 8-ounce logs of goat cheese, score each log into eight portions with a sharp knife.
To slice the cheese without crushing it, cut a length of kitchen twine and place it under the log at the mid-point.
Cross the twine, then pull to cut through the cheese.
Beautiful, isn’t it?! Do this, cutting each segment in half, until you have eight equally sized slices.
Now, put the eggs, mustard, herbs, and pepper in a shallow bowl.
Beat with a fork until well blended. Pour the Melba crumbs into another shallow bowl. Dip each cheese round in the egg mixture, then the crumbs, then place on a rimmed baking sheet.
Flatten each round gently with your fingertips. You’ll end up with 16 equally sized cheese disks.
Now, cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (ideally, 60 minutes). You can even leave the cheese rounds in the freezer overnight, if you’re preparing them in advance.
When ready, remove the pan from the freezer and preheat the oven to 475 degrees, Fahrenheit (246 Celsius). Remove the plastic wrap and bake for about 8 minutes (10 minutes, if the rounds were frozen for an hour or more).
Remove from the oven and, with a thin spatula, transfer the rounds to a paper towel-lined platter. Serve with salad or whatever dish you’d like. I served this with a wild rice-quinoa-dried cherry pilaf (recipe to be posted soon!), and it was absolutely amazing!
The tang of the cheese was a perfect complement to the richness of the dried cherries and texture of the wild rice. We served it with two Virginia wines, one white and one red: the 2015 Gewürztraminer from White Hall Vineyards and the 2014 Cabernet Franc from King Family Vineyards. Really great!
Enjoy, and cheers!