I’m the kind of home cook who rarely addresses recipes and when I do, I tend to ignore a good amount of the ingredients and directions in favor of my own experimentations. My trained-chef mom likes to say that you should always make the recipe as it is printed first, but it’s from her that I learned to go buck wild in the kitchen, so really it’s all her fault. Once I mastered the feta-making at The Institute of Domestic Technology, I immediately came home and started throwing whatever herbs I had on-hand into the jars and was pleasantly surprised that it worked!
I’ve always been completely overwhelmed by poaching eggs. Something about the swirling water and vinegar and creating a water tornado, which for me, always turned into egg drop soup. My mom bought me some silicone poached egg cups, but it felt like cheating. As if that weren’t hard enough, if you’re trying to make Eggs Benedict, you have the whole other hassle of the Hollandaise sauce! One of my first challenges in turning myself into a respectable cook was learning how to make Eggs Benedict.
My dad had explained the swirling trick to me, but I wound up with some yolks surrounded by a wisp of white… and they looked a little gruesome. So, I took to the internet in search of tricks and came across an Alton Brown video that totally changed my life… in regards to egg poaching at least.
I have been relatively obsessed with goat cheese since I was a little girl. I spent my first five years in Marnes la Coquette, a village about 8 miles west of Paris. My mom, a chef trained at Paris’ now-defunct La Varenne cooking school, always fed us very well. I remember chowing down on powdered sugar-dusted gaufres at the Parc Monceau and one of my favorite things in the world was crotin — a small bloomy rind goat cheese, which my mom would broil on toast and serve with a light salad. Yeah, I was spoiled.
I always saw cheese as a magical food product, created by happy geniuses. It never really occurred to me that I could be such a happy genius, until I bought a Fresh French Goat Cheese Kit from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Though basic, the kit included 4 cheese molds, which are usually pretty expensive and I continue to use today.