Our newest cheese, “Little Dragon” is a goat cheese rolled in French Tarragon, or Estragon in French which is thought to be a mistaken pronounciation of Esdragon which means “little dragon” and so it would seem a logical name for the cheese, except that there is another origin for the name.
“Little Dragon” was one of the first cheeses I learned to make and its subtle contrasts have always intrigued me. It was taught to me by a great cheesemaker in the shadows of the Black Mountains of Wales. Just this year, he won the prestigious Hampshire cheese competition in the category of fresh cheese for his version. Little Dragon is a fresh chevre that is gently pressed for about four hours. This pressing, unique for this style of cheese, speeds the drainage of whey which cuts down on the citrusy tang characteristic of fresh goat cheeses. The pressing also, not surprisingly, gives the cheese a denser texture than chevres. The cheeses are then brined for thirty three minutes and allowed to drain overnight. They are then taken out of the molds and dried for two days after which they are rolled in freshly chopped tarragon. Let them come to room temperature before eating. I enjoy the exchange from the salty, slight sourness and the anise sweetness of the tarragon.
Y Ddraig Goch, the mysterious and most magical “Red Dragon” of Wales, is said to have dwelt in the nearby mountains and those who choose to take a dragon as a friend were bestowed this blessing: “If the Dragon be thine by fair means and true, good luck and good fortune will e’er follow you.” Whether it’s the medieval dragons of Europe, the serpentine dragons of the east, the metaphorical dragons that we confront inside us everyday or the little green cheese with the dragon’s tail on the top, dragons really do exist.
What is Fromage Blanc and what do i do with it?
There is no cheese that causes more questions or confusion than fromage blanc. Well let me clarify nothing. The confusion is understandable, because fromage blanc means different things and is used sometimes interchangably with fromage frais. First, the easy part, fromage blanc and fromage frais are technically cheeses. In some areas, fromage blanc is the consistency of soft cream cheese, at other times it means a cheese with the consistency of yoghurt. It is fresh cheese that has a veryhigh moisture content and so should be eaten very shortly (within a few days) of being made. What I love about it, is that it can be used as a fresh more milky tasting alternative to sour cream or it can be used in recipes calling for yoghurt. Our fromage blanc is made on Tuesday and is of the yoghurt consistency.
Three quick things to do with Fromage Blanc (I also have recipes for that are more involved and I’m happy to share them with anyone):
1) Use in place of milk in mashed potatoes.
2) Mix with fruit preserves and put a spoonful on granola after the milk.
3) After pan frying meat, fish or poultry, remove the pan from the heat and deglaze the pan using fromage blanc for an instant sauce.