Much like this year in general, this Christmas has been an excuse for my family to bake. My dad provided the Christmas pud in all its nutty, fruity glory, warm from his slow cooker. My sister made the post-Christmas trifle with layers of homemade sherry-soaked sponge, fruit, cream and chocolate shards, and my mum spontaneously produced a towering, two-tiered hazelnut pavlova with chocolate and praline. As the family member who has fallen short on the pudding duty, I’m feeling rather self-conscious. But, also, incredibly well-fed.
The season isn’t over so there is still time for the sparkling puddings, even though my mum is already sneaking in with her second one when I’ve still to make my first. I’m being put to shame. Anyway, this is my way of extending the Christmas season because no one really wants it to end.
It’s a time accompanied by the scents of mulled wine, which I plan to drink by the jug-ful tonight, the twinkly lights, the candles, the annual, naughty cheeseboard…
My mum bought one of those cheese selection packs, full of unnamed Brie, blue and goat’s cheese – generic but does the job well. Very adaptable for a cracker or to sprinkle on top of fluffy focaccia. I’m always partial to a slice of soft goat’s cheese, and the goat’s cheese practically flaunts itself at me, accompanied by the many winter flavours which endorse it.
In keeping with the season, I marinated a log of the goat’s cheese in warmed olive oil scented with star anise, rosemary, bay orange zest and pink peppercorns. It’s now a light cheese of warming winter spice, creamy and aromatic, a seasonal spread for your cold-meat lunch, or on toasts and crackers.
This marinated goat’s cheese is my contribution in the interim, until I make an obligatory pudding.
Winter spice marinated goat’s cheese
- 125 g log of creamy goat's cheese
- 200 ml olive oil not too strong-flavoured and grassy
- ½ tsp pink peppercorns
- ¼ tsp black peppercorns
- 1 star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- A few sprigs of rosemary
- ½ tsp coriander seeds lightly crushed
- 2 strips of orange peel
- 1 clove of garlic lightly crushed
- Cut the goat’s cheese into 8 rounds and set aside to come to room temperature.
- In a small saucepan, add the oil and all the other ingredients except the cheese. Put the pan over low heat and leave to warm through for 20 minutes, until the garlic is crisp and gold. Let aside to cool then remove the garlic and its skin.
- Put half the goat’s cheese in a airtight plastic tub and pour over some of the oil. Top with the remaining goat’s cheese and the rest of the oil. Make sure the goat’s cheese is completely covered.
- Seal and leave to marinate out of the fridge. I then put it back in the fridge overnight, and put it on the kitchen surface to bring to room temperature before serving. Best left to marinate for 24 hours or longer.