Hmmm, let me start by saying I have NEVER been a fan of goat cheese. For me, it smells like goat, tastes like goat and frankly is about the only thing in my adult life that I haven’t been able, for appearances sake at least, to swallow.
Although the goat cheese component of this recipe left me somewhat dubious, I decided to make it for the man of the house’s birthday dinner this week. Poor thing, he actually requested an orange cake – so this is somewhat of a deviation from what he had planned for himself. And even though he ate three – yes – three servings, I think he was actually just being polite.
This recipe comes from Ramon Morato, who, amongst other things, runs a culinary school in Barcelona. I was a little puzzled as the blurb before the recipe talks about black rice and truffle flavours, whereas the actual recipe calls for arborio rice. I used arborio rice but I’m now wondering if I should have used black rice instead, and now my mind is working overtime wondering if there is such a thing as black arborio rice…. google will be getting a workout before I get to sleep tonight!!
The actual recipe is a doddle. I made both the vanilla broth and the vanilla oil a day and a half before. The vanilla oil could probably just stay in its jar for a while, as you don’t actually use all of it in the recipe. I would imagine the flavour would intensify over time. The vanilla broth is dead easy, and don’t worry about ‘wasting’ your precious vanilla beans as you dry them out and can use them again – mind you, I will be using mine pretty quickly as I’m not a hundred percent confident that I’ve dried them out again sufficiently, and I hate to think of my precious vanilla beans going mouldy and yuck. But, there are worse things in life to have to use up in a hurry – I love vanilla both flavourwise and the aroma – yum!
So, with my vanilla broth and oil both done and dusted, I headed to our local fromagerie and hunted down the goat cheese that was recommended in the recipe. I think the poor cheese man thought I was a complete nut – I was SO specific about what cheese I wanted, and what would do as a substitute – when he offered me a sample I just about ran a million miles. “Sorry”, I said. “I don’t actually want to TASTE it – it’s for a recipe”. So clearly he thinks, maybe correctly, that I am a card carrying nut case. Just so you know, the recipe calls for a Spanish goat cheese called Nevat, which our local cheese man advises is no longer imported to Australia. Maybe if I had have been able to get it, my verdict on this recipe would have been kinder 😉
I wasn’t sure if the first component of the recipe, where you saute the arborio rice with the oil, actually called for the vanilla oil – of which there is certainly enough – or just plain old olive oil. I erred on the side of caution and used the vanilla oil, but to be honest I’m not sure if it made a difference or not in the end result. The next few steps are simply just adding the warm broth and letting the thermomix stir it for you for about 15 minutes. The mixture looked a little watery to me on the way through, so I took off the measuring cup and let it evaporate a little and the end result was ok – still a little runny for me, but I’m sure that it would be ok for most people.
I was going to lash out for real truffle but had some difficulty locating it, so I used black truffle oil instead.
This is one of those recipes where a little goes a long way. I used barely a ladleful for each serve, and in fact served them up on saucers. For presentation a side plate would probably be better so you could be a bit more creative with your grated chocolate dusting, but I also thought it might be harder to scoop it out of a plate with no definitive bottom if you get my drift. The plating was easy, and even though the recipe suggests it would serve 6, I would have been able to make at least 8 serves from what I prepared.
So – the verdict you ask? Well, out of the five dinner eaters, only one asked for seconds (and thirds). Personally, I found the goat cheese too overpowering from the first (and only) mouthful. I imagine that without the goat cheese this would be a lovely dish, and I definitely will try it without it and see what I think. If you’re a goat cheese agnostic like I am, and you think that an amazing goat cheese dish might just push you to the other side – then I’m afraid this is probably not the dish to do it.
Still, I’ll press on! I knew this dish probably wasn’t ever going to be one of my best ever faves, but only one teaspoonful before I was hit with the goat flavour is a little less than I thought I’d be able to tolerate. I’ll let you know what the goat cheese free version is like – and I’m even contemplating doing it with some philadelphia cream cheese instead – if that’s not considered wrong??
I’d love to hear if anyone else has made this and what you thought of it – – be honest!!
If you don’t have the book, I did notice that this recipe was on the Thermomix Recipe Community when I was googling about black arborio rice (which doesn’t exist!)… good luck!