I adore cheese (for me it’s even better than chocolate) and I’m always looking for any excuse to consume more or try something new. After watching from the sidelines previously, this month I decided I wanted to have a go at the Cheese, Please! Challenge (rules here) run by FromageHomage.
This month’s challenge is hard sheep’s cheese and for me the obvious choice to use was Etorki, a sheep’s cheese from the Basque region that I love. Etorki (it means “origin” in Basque) is made from the milk of black- or red-faced Manech ewes in South West France. It’s a very pale colour and has a fairly “bendy” texture. It’s not as punchy as a mature manchego, but has a subtle nutty/earthy flavour instead.
I’ve never cooked with Etorki before, I normally just eat it on bread with membrillo (or just straight from the pack), and so I was intrigued by the idea of finding or coming up with a proper recipe using it.
I did not succeed in locating any recipes that called directly for Etorki but after much racking of my brains I remembered a recipe from the BBC that I cooked some time ago for a leek tart with a hazelnut crumb on top that had used Caerphilly cheese (which was originally made with sheep’s milk many years ago but now uses cow’s milk). I figured that, given its own nutty flavours, the Etorki would work quite well in this dish as well.
It wasn’t all plain sailing but I was fairly pleased with the end result. The final recipe I used is here.
My original plan involved using a hazelnut shortcrust pastry to further enhance the nuttiness, however it turned out that I only had 20g of ground hazelnuts left in my cupboard (this was a Sunday evening so there were no shops open to get more). I did incorporate what little I had left into the pastry I made, but I don’t think it did any more than giving it a slight grainy appearance, I certainly couldn’t taste it in the finished dish!
Having never cooked with Etorki before I wasn’t sure how it would react. The cheese inside the filling worked fine, it just oozed into the egg and tasted delicious. However, while the cheese in the topping still tasted great, it didn’t look terrible appetizing. As you can see it puffed up, rather than melted and so ended up looking more like toasted sweetcorn that pieces of cheese. The texture worked well though, just a shame about the appearance!
So that’s my first ever entry to the challenge. Thinking of a recipe using Hard Sheep’s Cheese was a tricky task and I don’t think fully mastered cooking with Etorki yet, at least from a visual point of view! I enjoyed my tart though, it was very tasty and it also tastes just as nice cold (I have been eating the left overs as lunches in work).