Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cranberry-Cinnamon Goat Cheese & Guest Post

Happy (almost) New Year to all of my wonderful readers!  2010 has been a great year for Mission: Food.  Although the blog existed since early 2009, it didn't really have much of a following until this year.  I have had lots of culinary adventures to share, and am really looking forward to new culinary discoveries in the upcoming year.  I'm also so excited today because I have not one, but two awesome recipes which would be perfect for New Year's (and just in time)!  The first is a guest post on one of my favorite food blogs, Lazaro Cooks.  I was so flattered when Lazaro asked me to share something with his readers, and after much thought, I decided to share a simple and elegant pasta dish utilizing squid ink spaghetti, fresh crab meat, garlic confit, lemon, and white wine.  It looks impressive, but is easy to put together, and I love the way the white crab meat contrasts with the black pasta!  Head on over to Lazaro Cooks to see the full recipe :)

The second recipe I'm sharing was inspired by a log of cranberry-cinnamon goat cheese that my friend purchased at East Village Cheese in NYC as part of her birthday cheese plate she served before dinner.  It was possibly a life-changing cheese experience, because I really never would have thought cranberry and cinnamon slathered all over a log of goat cheese would be so addictively awesome!  I have seen other "cranberry goat cheese" logs at grocery stores, but they don't look nearly as good as the one we had from East Village Cheese, and the others look like they are simply rolled in chopped dried cranberries, which is inferior to the version we had, which was basically coated in thick, cinnamon-infused cranberry sauce.

My version turned out great and was so easy to make.  It was a little messy to unwrap and serve without getting cranberry sauce all over the place, so I gently lifted it with 2 spatulas from the plastic wrap onto a serving plate.  I think if you're less neurotic than I am, you can easily plop the log straight from the plastic wrap onto the serving platter, or use your hands (like a normal person).  I'm just crazy :)  This was certainly addictive, and I will be making this over and over and over again.  Next time I might add even more cinnamon to really highlight that flavor, but it was amazing even with just 1 teaspoon of the spice.

My friend recollects that the goat cheese she purchased cost about $3.99 or so at East Village Cheese (known for their great cheeses at incredibly reasonable prices), but since a) the cheese is probably very seasonal at the cheese shop and b) I don't really expect most of you to fly to NY to buy a hunk of cheese, I think making it yourself is a better idea, even if it ends up costing a few bucks more.  I find that Trader Joe's sells their goat cheese a lot cheaper than most supermarkets, who sell the smaller logs of goat cheese for the same price that TJ's sells the big ones for.  I hope you try this out, as it is an amazing flavor combination!!  And definitely don't forget to check out the guest post!!  Maybe these two dishes will make it to your New Year's Eve menu...

Cranberry-Cinnamon Goat Cheese
Makes 1 large goat cheese log

6 oz. fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
11 oz. log goat cheese
Crackers, for serving

Add the cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest, and cinnamon to a medium saucepan and heat over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for about 8 to 10 minutes. The cranberries will pop, the mixture will foam and subside, and the sauce will get thick as the cranberries break down. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Spread about 1/2 cup of the thick cranberry sauce onto the plastic wrap, a bit longer and wider than the goat cheese log. Lay the goat cheese log on top of the cranberry sauce and spread more sauce over the top and sides of the goat cheese (much like frosting a cake). There should be about 1/4-inch thick layer of cranberry sauce over all the sides of the goat cheese. Wrap the plastic wrap around the cranberry-coated goat cheese log and refrigerate. Remove the goat cheese from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to allow the cheese to slightly soften and become easier to spread. Carefully unwrap the plastic wrap and serve the cranberry-cinnamon goat cheese with crackers.


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