I have a friend who always goes the extra mile when it comes to food. He does the “I just threw it together” thing, but kindly, with a genuine intention not to bore the listener with the rigours 40 step method he actually took to make whatever deliciousness you’re eating. The last time we visited, alongside the homemade thyme and saffron infused tea and overnight soaked bread pudding, we had this marinated goats cheese.
Funnily enough, this goats cheese dish was one of the quicker recipes on offer, only requiring 25 minutes; with the cooling time officially ignored as we greedily scooped goats cheese and hot oil into our mouths. We were blown away by how the simple addition of some simple spices to the soft goats cheese could transform it. Adam’s method (the friend/chef) is to pour the infused hot oil straight onto the goats cheese without letting it cool, so gently softening it, creating a glorious creamy texture and also making it easier to scoop with whatever crunchy, salty vessel you have at hand.
Having helped Adam make a second batch, as the first disappeared in 10 seconds flat along with all the melba toast, I was exposed to the wonderful simplicity of the recipe. What you see is what you get: soft goats cheese marinated in spice and garlic infused hot oil. This is the perfect “I just threw it together” recipe to impress guests without having to do much because all you have to do, actually, is just throw it together.
Marinated goats cheese with spices
Timings: 25 minutes
Quantities: Snack for 6, starter for 4
Kitchen stuff: small sauce pan, medium serving dish
300g soft goats cheese
80ml / 1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried allspice berries
4 garlic cloves, smashed
3 fresh or dried bay leaves
2 star anise pods
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 – 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (depending on your spice preference)
Flaked sea salt (Maldon sea salt is a great option)
Something crunchy to serve with it – toasted baguette, salty crackers, melba toast…
1. SPICES: Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan or a small, high-sided frying pan and put on a low heat. Use the flat edge of a chefs knife to gently crush the allspice berries and the coriander seeds then add these to the olive oil along with the smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, star anise and dried chilli flakes. Give it a gentle stir and let the oil infuse over a low heat for 15 – 20 minutes, swirling occasionally.
2. GOATS CHEESE: Whilst the olive oil is infusing, gently break the goats cheese into chunks and put them snugly in a medium serving dish in one layer.
3. INFUSION: When the oil has infused and the garlic has turned golden (but not too dark), remove the oil from the heat and pour it directly over the goats cheese*. Use a teaspoon to scoop and drizzle the oil repeatedly over the goats cheese chunks until all the exposed goats cheese has been covered in a little olive oil. Leave to cool for a few minutes and sprinkle with a large pinch of flakey sea salt. Serve with something crunchy like toasted baguette, melba toast or salty crackers.
*Tip – you can leave the oil to cool and cover the goats cheese with cooled oil, if you would rather the goats cheese chunks stay more whole and melt less into each other.