Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Savory Cheddar, Goat Cheese and Cilantro Cake / Cake Salé aux Cheddar, Fromage de Chèvre et Coriandre

Goat Cheese, Cheddar and cilantro Cake

I don’t remember which one came first: cooking, or the words that came with the recipes.

My mother had a small collection of pocket size French Cookbooks that I loved reading. The cookbooks had no pictures and no stories, just recipes, words and may be some drawing here and there. Yet, these books played a major role in the life of a teenage girl who wanted to learn the art of cooking.

Leafing through a cookbook that has no pictures, I was more drawn to a recipe that calls itself “Pain Bourguignon”, “Braised green lentils on a bed of Escarole”, “Anna potato cake” or even “Eggs en Cocotte” than to the ones with a less phonetic impact. Once I gave my poor siblings a taste of what was at the time my obsession with the word: Pilaf. Say it again, slowly: P-I-L-A-F! The way the tongue caresses the palate gently makes it sound more mystifying and delicious.

One sunny Friday, when my parents said they would be away for the afternoon, and that they might be late for supper, I nodded my head religiously to my mother’s leftover-reheating recommendations while the word Pilaf danced sensuously and discreetly in my mind. Once my parents had left, I had my rice, my onion, my chicken stock and my seasoning on the counter top. I was a girl on a mission.

The rice was beautiful, served in a royal blue glass dish, fluffed with a fork and decorated with some chopped parsley. I sat in my Mother’s place and served my siblings some of the rice and the other leftovers. I was proud of my self. Even more proud to explain my siblings how this wasn’t any kind of rice, this was P-I-L-A-F Rice! (With the tongue rolling, of course!)
The first bite was a little unexpected. But I decided to stay quiet and continued on with another spoonfuls, hoping that my siblings wouldn’t notice. Then my older sister put down her fork. “It’s undercooked, some grains are still raw,” my sister said, and went on to eat my mother’s leftovers.
“No, it’s not undercooked, it’s Al-dente” (Another word that I loved using at that time, too!)
Then my younger brothers followed and I couldn’t convince them anymore to eat it; even when I asked them to fish the raw grains out.

I almost finished my plate, but inside I was devastated with the knowledge that I have made a mistake somewhere in the recipe. I served my family a dish of partially raw rice and tried to make them believe that this was how the dish was to be served: Crunchy Pilaf!

Ever since this episode, I have learned how to make Pilaf Rice properly. But I still love using beautiful, exotic names for my dishes to impress the crowd. Even though the recipes are still the same. Somehow, I find it more alluring to introduce this Savory Cake as a Savory Cheddar, Goat Cheese and Cilantro cake than: Savory Quickbread, which is just what it is in reality. But much more.
I made this recipe from Dorie Greenspan’ Serious Eats chronicles: Baking with Dorie. The cake is simply marvelous and oh, so easy to make. You basically whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, the wet in another, and then you gently combine the two. Pour, bake, let it cool, and you’ve got yourself a moist, delicious and cheesy cake that would make any novice baker proud. The only minor changes that I made to the original recipe was to use a mix of white whole-wheat flour and all-purpose flour, to use cilantro instead of chives (it was a manner of availability) and to use goat cheese for its fresh note. I love to serve this savory cake with salads, or as a toast for my sandwiches. After a few days, when it dries out, I like to slice it, toast it, and dice it into croutons to garnish my salads or soups.

Cheddar, Goat Cheese and Cilantro Cake

Savory Cheddar, Goat Cheese and Cilantro Cake

Recipe: Adapted fom Here
- 1cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (it depends on what cheese and add-ins you're using. I used 1 tsp)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste; you could even add a pinch of hot pepper)
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces coarsely grated cheddar or other cheese
- 2 ounces fresh goat cheese or other cheese, cut into very small cubes
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or other herbs
- 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)

Put the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl and whisk the ingredients together to combine. Put the eggs in another mixing bowl; whisk for about 1 minute, until they're foamy and blended. Whisk in the milk and olive oil.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and, using a sturdy rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, gently mix until the dough comes together. There's not need to be energetic—beating the dough toughens it—nor do you need to be very thoroughly. Just stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Now, stir in the cheese, grated and cubed, the herbs and the toasted walnuts, if you're using them. You'll have a thick dough. Turn the dough into a buttered loaf pan and even the top with the back of the spatula or spoon.

Slide the loaf pan into a 350F-preheated oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the bread is golden and a slender knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack, wait about 3 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the loaf over onto the rack; invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.

The cake can be served when it is still slightly warm, but like Dorie herself, I prefer it when it has cooled completely.
Well wrapped, the cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature or for up to 2 months in the freezer (thaw in the wrapper). It is normal that the cake may seem a little dry after a couple of days. At that point, it's good to toast the slices. I like to use them as little croutons in my salad and soups, too.

Goat cheese, Cilantro and Cheddar Cake

Cake Salé aux Cheddar, Fromage de Chèvre et Coriandre

In Francais Please: Adapté d'ici
- 110g de farine
- 100g de farine blanche complete
- 1 petite c.s de levure chimique
- ½ a 1c.c de sel (tout depends du fromage que vous utilisez et de ce que vous voulez ajouter. J’ai mis 1 c.c)
- ¼ c.c de poivre noir faichement moulu
- 3 gros oeufs, a temperature ambiante
- 100ml lait entier, a temperature ambiante
- 100ml d’huile d’olive extra vierge
- 85g de cheddar, grossierement rapé
- 50g de fromage de chevre, coupé en en dés
- 125ml coriandre, haché
- 100ml noix, grossierement hachées (facultatives)

Dans Une grande jatte, mélanger les farines, la levure, le sel et le poivre. Dans un autre bol, battre les oeufs pendant un minute jusqu’à ce qu’ils deviennent mousseux et bien incorporés. Ajouter le lait et l’huile d’olive.

Verser tous les ingredients liquides sur les ingredients secs, et mélanger doucement à l’aide d’une spatule ou une cuillere en bois. Ne pas trop mélanger ou le cake sera dur et sec. Ajouter le fromage rapé et le fromage de chèvre en cubes, les noix et Mélanger encore. Votres pate sera épaisse. Verser la pate sur un moule à cake beurré et lisser la surface du cake à l’aide d’une maryse ou le dos d’une cuillere a soupe.

Glisser le cake au four, et faire cuire à 180C pendant 35-45 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que le cake soit doré et qu’un couteau inséré à l’interieur du cake en ressort propre. Laisser le cake dans sans moule pendant 3 minutes, puis démouler sur une grille à patisserie et laisser refroidir à temperature ambiante à l’endroit. Vous pouvez le servir tiede, mais je le préfere tout comme Dorie, completement refroidi.

Bien envelopé dans un film plastique, le cake peut se garder pendant 2 jours à temperature ambiante ou pendant 2 mois au congélateur (décongeler-le en le laissant dans le film plastique). Il est normal que le cake durcisse après quelques jours. A ce stage, il est préférable de griller les tranche en toast (J’aime les griller et les couper en dés pour décorer salades et soupes.


Anonymous said...

What an incredible mix of flavors! Great idea with the croutons!!!

Shayne said...

al-dente Pilaf that is a good one. It is great how we learn to do things right, through failure. Failure is such a wonderful thing sometimes and I can think of many that I have made in cooking this year and have learned something from each one. The bread looks yummy.

Cynthia said...

Looks good Warda! Definitely one I want to try...

Anonymous said...

you told me you loved cakes, I can read here today that it's indeed a real love story, very different from the pilaf-raw-rice :)
I've already cooked a "prothèse mammaire" for dessert, that was meant to be a futurist cube of coconut milk with nashis ... ahem ...
Well, il n'y a que ceux qui ne font jamais rien qui ne se trompent pas :)

Anonymous said...

Your bread is absolutely gorgeous! And I adore the story. Very charming, I can very much relate.

Lucy said...

P-I-L-A-F! It IS a sensuous and beautiful word to roll off the tongue.

Warda, this is a gorgeous recipe. Anything with coriander ticks all the right boxes for me!

Anonymous said...

You know, you got my with the fancy title---I was skipping through my google reader and the combo of cheddar, goat cheese, and cilantro grabbed my attention! It looks delicious and I love your story!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

When I first looked at the photo, I thought this was a kind of crustless quiche loaf. I'm going to try this, for sure, but I'll substitute flat-leaf parsley for the cilantro.

Miechambo said...

Un excellent cake à tester très vite !

Nancy Lindquist-Liedel said...

I've always been a cookbook reader. Better than novels for me and I started as a teen too. Nothing French, though. Mom had a wonderful collection of Junior League cookbooks.

Warda said...

- Gretchen, thanks a lot! I cannot stand waiting food away. I always find some ways to recycle them. Unless they are spoiled, of course ;)

- Shayne, I usually don't welcome failure very easily. Just a year ago, I cried all the tears of my soul because the puff pastry didn't turn out the way it supposed to. But I learned to control my tears since then. At least when it comes to cooking!

- Mom, thank you! I hope you will enjoy it! Please, let me know how it goes! Happy baking!

- Marion, that is very well said! Your "prothese mammaire" would have amused my younger brother more than my "Al-dente Pilaf". I can piture him:"Hey, look what she made! A pair of boobies" Hahaha!!

- Joy, thank you very much. That is sweet of you!

- Lucy, I knew you wouldn't resist to roll off your tongue ;) Glad you like the cake, Cilantro is my favorite herb.

- Robin, the fancy title always works ;) Glad to have you stopping by! Thank you very much!

- Lydia, parsley sounds good to me! This is the kind of recipe that begs for personalization.

- Michele, soit la bienvenue et merci beaucoup pour ton gentil message!

- Nancy, French or not, I find cookbooks to be very soothing. Better than ice cream.

Anonymous said...

Comme toujours, rien qu'en voyant la photo, j'ai faim!

Sandra Le Petrin said...

Je n'ai jamais l'idée de faire des cakes salés et en voyant le tien, je me demande bien pourquoi..!
C'est une très bonne idée la coriandre!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Poor you, my dear friend! I can only imagine how disappointed you were with the pilaf (btw, I love the word, too).
This cake looks wonderful - I can almost smell it from here!

Helene said...

J'adore les cakes sales! Ton idee d'en faire des croutons par la suite est geniale!

Pannifer's said...

Ooooh! I do so love savoury cakes and muffins!

This one goes on the "to do" list!

Anonymous said...

Warda - I happen to like my rice a little "al dente" :)

I've been wanting to make a savory cake and you've inspired me to do one soon!

Warda said...

- Murielle, et comme toujours, tu as le mot qui fait chaud au coeur. Merci!

- Sandra, une femme aussi talentueuse que toi! Qui l'aurait cru! Je suis contente que ma recette t'ait inspire. Merci Beaucoup!

- Patricia, at the time it was a miserable moment of my life. But now it makes me laugh! Thanks, my friend!

- Helene, merci beaucoup! Ca m'arrive d'avoir de bonnes idees ;)

- Pannifer's, glad you like it. I hope you will enjoy it.

- Chrisitne, next time I'll serve you some Al dente rice. Lately, I am getting better at mushy rice ;-)

Unknown said...

This savoury cake sounds really good. Just look at the golden brown cheesy top.

Deborah said...

I started collecting recipes long before I really got interested in cooking. I loved this story!

The cake sounds amazing!

gal writer said...

I'm making this for dinner, it's in the oven as we speak, with only one modification: arugula/rocket instead of the cilantro. Can't wait to taste the creamy goat's cheese and the spicy nutty arugula!
MFK Fisher herself had a story very similar about the parents going out, except her mistake was with curry. By the way, I've always dreamed of coming up with a rice concoction worthy of the name "Edith Pilaf" after the singer, of course :) Thanks for dinner!

Warda said...

- Kevin, thank you very much!

- Deborah, I am glad you like it. Thank you!

- Gal, arugula sounds like the perfect combination with fresh goat cheese. I hope you enjoyed it!
I would have to try the Edith Pilaf someday ;)

mima said...

Ton cake a l'air tres appetissant,bravo!rien de tel pour une journee � la campagne .J'aime beaucoup les cakes sales,c'est nourrissant.Biz.

Eglantine said...

Ce cake a l'air vraiment succulent. Je ne connais pas bien le cheddar, il va falloir que je découre ça !

Tara the Foodie said...

Oh, this looks SO good! I HAVE to make this. I love cheese and I love cilantro and I've recently decided to learn more about baking bread. I have a question for you, though... can I used bread flour in place of all-purpose flour? Please let me know. Thanks!

Warda said...

Tara, thanks a lot! sure you can use bread flour. In this recipe you won't really notice a difference. Happy baking! And please, let me kno how it goes :-)