Reader/friend Lynn D. told me about some things she was making with goat's milk that sounded pretty amazing. There was a creme caramel from Elizabeth David's posthumous essay collection, and a leek gratin with a goat's milk bechamel..I just had to try something. I'd had goat's milk only a few times in the past-to drink, but not as an ingredient. I remembered that I'd liked it, but not exactly what it tasted like. "An extra tang", was how Lynn described it.
When I had a chance to stop in Whole Foods, I picked up a quart of Albert's Choice Goat's Milk. In choosing between the two available brands, I was influenced by the fact that Albert's was not "ultrapasteurized." I was also swayed by the picture of the nubian goat on the label. Several years ago, I feel in love with some baby nubian goats at a county fair, and have harboured an entirely unlikely yen for a few goats of my own ever since.
The nubians have these very appealing, rather vulnerable looking floppy ears. Since the fair, I have wavered somewhat in my choice of imaginary goats, having encountered a couple of exceptionally delightful, very fuzzy pygmy goats. Anyhow, since I am otherwise entirely urban, it seems unlikely that this particular hankering is going to be satisfied in the near future.
In the meantime, there's nothing to stop me from cooking with goat's milk, except, of course, my absentmindness and distractibility. After some daydreaming and indecision, I realized that the goat's milk was nearing its expiry date. Not only had I failed to decide, but it was Sunday -there wasn't alot else in the house, and I had a minor case of sprained ankle. No biggie, but enough to make me think a walk to the store and grocery schlep would be unwise.
Well, the bottom line is , I probably didn't make the best use of this quart. Half of it is making me some yogurt. The other half is part of a bechamel in a noodle gratin composed of foodstuff that was around here. The gratin is, though not awfully pretty, actually, really good. It has some rather strongly flavored components, which are probably stiffling the goat's milk taste a little. But maybe not. This is really surprisingly delicious and very rich. Maybe it's my imagination, but the goat's milk seems to go a bit caramelly with the heat.
The gratin, unmeasured except for the 12 oz pkg of little, square, wavy Hungarian noodles cooked al dente, also contains a few peas, soaked and slivered dried morels (they are the dark bits, that look burnt, but fortunately are not), leftover cubed smoked pork chop, the bechamel, a bit of nutmeg and white pepper, grated emmenthaler mixed in, and parm on top. It took about 30 oven minutes at 350F. It tastes a bit as if it was made with creme fraiche. I will let you know how the yogurt turns out. And I will be getting more goat's milk for sure. I need to try the creme caramel, and I've been thinking maybe moussaka? Or dulce de leche from the evaporated stuff?
Update: Yogurt very, very tasty, but a bit runny for my taste. Probably I did not mix in sufficient starter yogurt.