Food & Drink: Flocks develop the herd instinct: With a wealth of goats' cheeses at her French holiday home, our cookery writer decided to make the most of them

In this area of France, the Bas-Vendomois (the part of Loir-et-Cher that stretches from the town of Vendome west to the border with the Sarthe), goat's cheese takes precedence over all other cheeses. True, our most local cheese, the pleasant but unremarkable Petit Troo, is made from cow's milk, but it is an exception. Canny fermiers and fermieres have taken to raising goats and working their milk in the old farmyard dairies.

Even the hypermarche in our little shopping town offers a range of 20 or so goat's cheeses, though only half a dozen are made in the region. At the twice-weekly market, on the other hand, nearly all the goat's cheeses will have been made within a radius of 50 or 60 miles.

On a good week, you may find four or five makeshift stalls with the produce of nearby farms: cream and butter from the cows, cheese from the goats, and the odd free-range chicken or rabbit.

The one certainty is the magnificent large-scale cheese stall that has been run by the same couple since time immemorial. There is a wealth of all kinds of cheeses to choose from. One end is dedicated to a virtuoso display of goat's cheeses. They come in all shapes and sizes; long cylinders wrapped round straws, pyramids, hearts, rounds of many diameters. Each cheese will be represented in differing stages of maturity.

Farmers and cheesemongers will also sell chevre frais en faisselle, the tender fresh curds of new cheese, barely drained (you may be offered a choice of yesterday's or today's curds) in their perforated moulds. The faisselles are made of plastic these days, though it is easy to find the pretty old earthenware moulds in junk shops.

Usually, the cheese is decanted from its faisselle into a plastic bag for the journey home. Inevitably, it loses its shape as it is squashed by the rest of the shopping, but no one cares much. It will soon be eaten, perhaps as part of a simple dessert with a sprinkling of sugar, a dollop of jam or some fruit compote. It is more likely to turn up as fromage frais a l'ail (sometimes, I think, also known as fromage Tourangelle, though no one round here would dream of calling it that). This is the young curds mixed with crushed garlic and lots of fresh herbs. Sometimes it is served as a first course, sometimes after the salad instead of a firmer cheese.

Though you may not be able to pick and choose your fresh curds in Britain in quite the way you can here, supermarkets and delicatessens are increasingly stocking commercially made young mild goat's cheese, semi-drained and as moist as - no, moister than - most cream cheese. All the recipes that follow have been tested with this sort of cheese, as well as French chevre frais. If no young goat's cheese is available, try ordinary fromage frais, drained first in a muslin-lined sieve for a few hours to remove more of the whey. The results will be a little different, but still good.

Quiche au fromage

Tourangelle

This rich and luxurious quiche is based on the herbed young cheese that is so often eaten here. I have played down the garlic a little, but there are still plenty of herbs

in it.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients: 12oz (340g) shortcrust or flaky pastry

For the filling: 10oz (285g) young goat's cheese

4tbs creme fraiche or double cream with a squeeze of lemon juice

1 clove of garlic, crushed

5 spring onions, finely chopped

2tbs chopped chives

2tbs chopped parsley

1tbs chopped marjoram

1 whole egg

3 egg yolks

3tbs grated gruyere

salt and pepper

Preparation: Line a tart tin 8in (20cm) in diameter and 1 1/2 in (4cm) deep with the pastry, prick the base with a fork and chill for half an hour. Line with greaseproof paper or silver foil, weigh down with baking beans and bake blind at 200C/400F/gas 6 for 10 minutes. Remove beans and lining and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes to dry out. Cool slightly and reduce the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.

Beat the goat's cheese with the creme fraiche, egg and egg yolks. Stir in the garlic, spring onions, herbs, salt and pepper. Spoon into the pastry case. Sprinkle over the gruyere. Bake for about 40 minutes until just set. Serve warm or cold.

Omelette au broccio

Broccio is actually a sheep's cheese from Corsica, but in A Table in Provence Leslie Forbes suggests making this omelette with young goat's cheese instead; and however it compares with the original, it certainly tastes good. This is a sweet omelette, flavoured with mint as well as the cheese: unusual, but extremely effective. If, however, that seems too odd, you would still end up with a pretty nifty omelette if you replaced the sugar with salt and pepper.

Serves 1

Ingredients: 3 large eggs

2tsp castor sugar

1/2 oz (15g) unsalted butter

3 large mint leaves, shredded

3 generous tbs young goat's cheese

1tbs creme fraiche or double cream

extra mint leaves and sugar to finish

Preparation: Beat the eggs lightly with the sugar. Melt the butter in a 10in (25cm) omelette pan. Raise the heat and add the mint. When the bubbles start to subside, add the eggs. Immediately spoon over the cheese and cream. Tip the pan back and forth a few times, lifting the edges of the omelette with a spatula to let the liquid egg run underneath.

As soon as the omelette is set, but still creamy on top, fold it in three lengthwise and slide on to a plate. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar and perch a couple of fresh mint leaves on top.

Fromageon Gascon

From the south-west of France comes this superbly boozy 'cream' to serve with summer fruits, or maybe just on its own in small bowls, with crisp almondy biscuits to dip into it.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients: 2oz (55g) castor sugar

3fl oz (85 ml) armagnac or brandy

10oz (285g) fresh young goat's cheese

Preparation: Beat first the sugar and then the armagnac into the cheese. Chill for at least an hour before serving and beat once more before you put it on the table.

Raspberry amaretti fool

This is one of the most delicious fools I have tasted in a long time, with the goat's cheese adding a subtle flavour that works particularly well with raspberries.

Serves 6

Ingredients: 8oz (225g) raspberries

2oz (55g) castor sugar

8oz (225g) fresh young goat's cheese

3fl oz (85 ml) whipping cream, whipped

4 amaretti biscuits, roughly crumbled

Preparation: Crush the raspberries roughly with a fork. Mix with the sugar and goat's cheese, then fold in the cream. Chill for a good hour before serving. Just before serving, so that they do not lose their crunch, fold in the amaretti.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own