Goats and I go back a long way. When I was a child I spent many a happy week on a remote Cornish smallholding where I went to bed by candlelight and drew water from the well. As well as feeding the steaming pot of mash from the range to the chickens and moving the sheep from field to field, I spent much of my time with the goats. Taking Starlight and Moonlight out each day to keep the brambles down was one of my duties as was collecting branches from the hedgerows to feed them with. Sadly my attempts at milking were less than successful, but I did get to drink a lot of goat's milk and try my first ever goats cheese. I also learnt that the front end of a goat can be somewhat dangerous; on occasion Moonlight took exception to being moved around and would butt to get her point across.
home in Somerset, over the border in England. Plenty of ideas immediately sprang to mind. Some friends were the unsuspecting guinea pigs for one of those ideas: a Mediterranean inspired creation which I turned into a starter. This would also work well as a light lunch. To give the starter its chocolate hit, I started by making some chocolate balsamic vinegar.
This is what I did to serve four as a starter:
Spiced Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
- Dry fried 1/2 tsp cumin seeds in a small saucepan for a few minutes until a delicious warm aroma arose.
- Poured in 100ml of a good quality balsamic vinegar.
- Added 25g caster sugar and stirred until the sugar had dissolved.
- Simmered mixture for a couple of minutes.
- Poured over 25g of 70% dark chocolate (G&B) and stirred together until melted.
- Poured into a bottle, left to cool then capped.
Honeyed Fig & Goat's Cheese Tarts with Walnuts and Thyme
- Rolled half a block of all butter puff pastry into a 9" square then cut into four square pieces.
- Placed these onto a lined baking tray.
- Cut a cross into four fresh figs, cutting to about 3/4 of the way down.
- Placed a fig on each square of pastry.
- Scattered a sprig of thyme over each one.
- Cut 50g Capricorn Goats Cheese into eight pieces and stuffed the centre of the figs with two pieces each.
- Drizzled each fig with 1/2 tsp honey.
- Scattered a few chopped walnuts over the top.
- Baked in the oven for 10 minutes at 200C until the pastry was risen and golden, the cheese had melted and the walnuts had toasted.
- Drizzled with the chocolate balsamic.
- Placed onto 4 plates and served immediately.
Everyone was really impressed with these tarts, both with the looks and the taste. Sadly their appearance was not captured very well on camera. The sweet sticky figs complemented the salty melted cheese and the crunch of walnuts added another dimension to the texture. The flavour of thyme completed the Mediterranean feel. The chocolate balsamic was the crowning glory and brought out the flavours of everything else as well as making its own distinct contribution: rich, fruity and chocolatey with the sour vinegar cutting through both the cheese and sweet figs. These worked particularly well for a dinner party as they were quick and easy to make, but looked and tasted rather classy.
Herbs on Saturday - a lovely challenge run by Karen of Lavender and Lovage. As I don't use herbs in my chocolate creations very often, I don't get the chance to enter very often either.
One Ingredient with my figgy flapjacks, I used dried figs. However they are nothing like fresh figs, so I am entering this one too. Laura of How to Cook Good Food and Working London Mummy alternate hosting this monthly challenge.