The second Cheesepalooza challenge (and first for me) was fresh chevre. Having been a cheese monger for forever now, let me quickly clear up a couple of things. First, the "r" in chevre is silent. I know I know, those crazy French folks. It is not related in any way to any American car companies. It is pronounced "chev". Secondly, chevre is not the only goat cheese out there. I blame celebrity chefs and cookbooks for this. It really bends me out of shape when I read a recipe that calls for the generic term "goat cheese". It is not the 1980's anymore, there are many many more styles out there now. You can make just about any type of cheese there is with goat's milk, and sheep too for that matter. And yes, you can milk sheep.
Ok, my rant is done. Onto fun things. So chevre is a fresh (unaged) mild cheese made from goat's milk. In fact, the very word chevre is French for goat. It is also a very easy cheese to make in case you were wondering. It involves nothing more than fresh milk, some cultures, a little heat, and a little patience (cue Guns 'N' Roses song). I started with a gallon of lovely raw goat's milk, heated it slightly, added the cultures, and let it sit out overnight (Not in the fridge. Those added cultures go straight to work in the milk, turning lactose into lactic acid, and preventing the milk from spoiling). In the morning, I ladled the curds into cheesecloth and hung it neatly from my kitchen faucet. After draining for about 6 hours, I smooshed in some salt, and that was that! Easy as pie. Mine came out a tad more crumbly than I like, so next time I will drain for a shorter period of time. But the end result was delicious. Lactic, bright, and smooth.
So far I have used it mainly for salads and eggs (like the scrambled eggs pictured below with a gorgeous heirloom tomato), but it would be great in everything from mashed potatoes, to mac and cheese, to ravioli filling. And it freezes quite well too. This is a great cheese to try if you are thinking about taking the plunge!