Fluffy goat cheese soufflé with honey, dried lavender, thyme and Parmesan cheese.
Aloha! We're back from a week on Maui, and I swear I'm still on Maui time. We had a wonderful week of pure relaxation, going to the beach, hanging out at the pool, and very casual dining with the exception of the evening we went to Spago. The Maui Spago is in the Four Season's Hotel on the Makena side of the island, and was a delightful dinner from start to end. We had a table overlooking the ocean, and a waiter looking like someone who spends his days surfing, who introduced himself as our personal liaison with the chef. When we placed our order, he assured us he would be immediately communicating our wishes directly to the chef. The food was outstanding, but really, my personal liaison? I hope the kitchen is big enough that each order isn't personally being communicated to the chef. Wouldn't that slow things down a bit in the back of the house? At one point we wanted some more butter for the wonderful breads, and flagged down a server to ask if our personal liaison could fetch us some. It was an effort to do this and not affect a very proper, restrained British accent. Hoity-toity aside, the food was flawless, not over-the-top expensive (bear in mind I do live in the San Francisco area), and my #1 restaurant recommendation. Big thanks to my friend, Mare at Current Vintage for the recommendation.
Somewhere in all that relaxation, we hopped in the rental and headed Upcountry, which means to say up the slopes of Mt. Haleakala, to Kula to visit an award-winning goat dairy I'd been hearing a lot about: Surfing Goat Dairy.
No, the goats don't really surf. Nor, it turns out, do the owners. It just made for a fun theme, and cheap (free) decorations. Don't be fooled, though, by their seemingly relaxed approach. This may be the best goat cheese I've ever had, and it was served at the White House inauguration.
We decided to sign up for the tour before a cheese tasting since a tour was set to go.
These little guys were just born within the last few weeks. So sweet and docile.
These little guys range from five to seven months old, and know the drill: humans approaching the fence with paper bag in hand, means there's food to be had.
It was so much fun feeding them.
One smaller goat, tired of trying to squeeze between the older ones, figured out how to get all she wanted. It's hard to tell in the photo, but she's eating all the grass that fell. To reward her, I started putting grass on the ground just for her.
Following the tour, which included the milking station, where the goats line up behind the alpha female (amazingly always in the same order) to be milked, and looking through the window of the cheese making facility, we were finally able to taste some of the cheeses. Two of my biggest observations were how incredibly fresh the cheese tasted and how creamy it was. Their goats have been carefully selected for the percentage of butterfat, and you can tell. We bought some Feta goat cheese, aged for five months in brine, and served with olive oil drizzled over it, and some goat cheese truffles to have with our lunch at the Kula Lodge, and old restaurant/art gallery perched on the slopes of Haleakala.
I haven't made my own goat cheese, yet, but I'm definitely planning on it. In the meantime, I decided to make these little goat cheese soufflés to share with you. They're perfect warm with a kale salad and a citrus vinaigrette. The little soufflés have a little honey to add sweetness, fresh thyme from my garden for herb, and dried lavender, lemon zest and parmesan cheese on top for a burst of flavor when you take your first bite.
If you've been wanting to try a soufflé, this is a great one for your first test drive. For starters, they're designed to be collapsed soufflés, so you don't have to worry about serving them within two seconds of pulling them from the oven.
They collapse in about 15 minutes. Just run a sharp knife around them, turn them upside down, and they plop right out.
These make a great appetizer/first course or brunch offering, and they're even great warmed up for lunch the day after you've made them.
Herbed Goat Cheese Soufflés
- 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
- zest from 1/2 medium lemon
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese divided, plus more for sprinkling on the ramekins
- pinch salt
- 2 twists of freshly ground black pepper
- 3 ounces fresh soft goat cheese or chevre
- 1 ounce ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon honey I used orange blossom honey
- 3 eggs separated
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- butter for the ramekins
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prep the ramekins by smearing them with butter and sprinkling grated Parmesan cheese on the bottoms and around the sides. Set aside.
- Rub the dried lavender between your fingers to reduce as much as half of the buds to a powder. Combine this with the lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of Parmesan, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the goat cheese, ricotta, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, thyme, honey, egg yolks, milk and flour together. Stir well to completely combine.
- In a small bowl, whip the egg whites just to a firm peak. Be careful not to get them too firm, or they'll be difficult to fold into the cheese-yolk mixture. Fold the beaten egg whites into the the cheese-yolk mixture in thirds using a large spatula. It's fine to have lumps of egg whites in the mixture - it will not be smooth. If it is, then the egg whites will be considered over-folded and not give much rise to the dish.
- Place the ramekins in a baking dish and fill the dish with hot water one-half the way up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully spoon the cheese-egg mixture into the ramekins, filling them 2/3 full.
- With a paper or cloth towel, clean the sides and rims of the ramekins down to the level of the liquid. This allows the cheese-egg mixture to rise without impediment.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned on top and springy - firm to the touch. Remove and allow to cool in the ramekins for 15 minutes. The souffles will collapse and start to pull away from the sides of the ramekins. Run a knife around their edges and turn the ramekin upside down. The souffle should slide right out.
- Serve warm with a small salad.