Even before buying the house, we visited France many times as a family. From our main holidays to long weekends to shopping day trips it has always been one of our favourite destinations. Not surprising really given how close it is and how easy it is to get there with the Tunnel. Even when you were all learning French you weren’t very willing to try to speak it, so I decided that, although I would translate the menus for you, you had to order yourselves. For several years Tom and George ordered the same meal pretty much everywhere! Et pour moi, salade de chevre chaud, et puis steak a point, s’il vous plait.
Dad and I used to make Grilled Goats Cheese Salad quite often as a starter when I was still working and we had people round mid-week. It is easy, fast and tastes good – what more could you want? The cheese I prefer is the one sold in the UK as buche, or log. It is way cheaper to buy a whole one from Costco but it doesn’t keep well, particularly once you have cut into it. It is better to buy the number of slices you want from the supermarket and use them that day or the next. Once the rind starts to separate from the middle, or it develops a kind of mush between cheese and rind, it really is past its best.
The only difficult thing about this dish is the actual grilling of the cheese. The recipe (gleaned from a UK Good Housekeeping magazine in the 1980s) says that it should be placed under the grill on a medium heat. We found that the cheese fell through the wire tray for the grill pan. We put foil on the grill pan, but a wee puddle of fat gathers around the pieces. In recent years we have used the flat griddle and this has been more successful. Just remember that if you use the grill it should be at a medium heat; if you use the griddle it should be very hot. You only grill/griddle one side and be quick when you lift it. I find it better to use a metal fish slice.
Grilled Goat’s Cheese Salad – Ingredients
- 3 tbspns walnut or olive oil (I always used walnut until we had nut allergies in the house when I swapped to olive oil. I think walnut tastes better)
- 1 tbspn red wine vinegar (bog standard is fine, but Vinaigre de Banyuls is better)
- 1/2 tspn clear honey
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Four round goat’s cheeses, approximately 2 oz each
- Selection of salad leaves, torn into pieces
- 25 g / 1 oz chopped pecan nuts or walnuts (I removed these too after the nut allergies)
- Lovely bread – Waitrose’s Pain de Campagne is the best
Put all the dressing ingredients into a jar with a lid, and shake until mixed together
Cook the cheese (see above). While cheese is cooking toss the salad leaves with the dressing and arrange on four plates.
Put a round of cheese on top of the leaves and if using sprinkle with the nuts.
There are a couple of variations. You can toast some baguette and put the cheese on the baguette on the salad – very French! I also think that it’s nice served with a pot of clear honey which you pour on as you wish.