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Also called chevre, goat cheese is a versatile food that can be served cold or hot or added to food, and can be sliced, spread, or used as a dip. It can be served as a centerpiece eaten with crackers at parties, or it can be incorporated to add a creamy element to a variety of dishes. A common topping on high-end pizza, this type of cheese is often found raw or cooked in round slices called medallions. Since it has many properties similar to other familiar soft cheeses, it is fairly easy to cook with.
Though goat cheeses can be aged and hard, like cheddar cheese, when most people say goat cheese, they mean soft, white cheese made from goat's milk. In many ways, it is similar to cream cheese, but with a creamier texture and a richer flavor. When a recipe calls for a hard cheese, it will usually specify the type of cheese, but if it does not specify, it most likely calls for the well-known soft variety.
Cold goat cheese is often served on toasted bread or crackers. Piled atop a cracker, it is often a companion to other flavors, including fruits, vegetables, and spices. When served as a dip, this soft cheese is often blended with herbs or spices to add a touch of flavor to the snack.
Cooked goat cheese is usually baked. Popular cooked dishes that use this type of cheese include goat cheese pizza and baked goat cheese. More unusual applications for cooking this cheese include cheese-stuffed tomatoes and baked salmon with goat cheese. In general, this ingredient can be used in place of cream cheese in almost every way cream cheese is used. Though it does brown somewhat if baked at high heat, it is easier to achieve the browning effect on this type of cheese if it is sprinkled with a tiny amount of sugar before it is cooked.
This type of cheese can be frozen and stored for about two months. When using soft cheese that has been frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator as you would thaw meat. Do not heat the cheese to thaw it, as it is soft and will easily melt when even a little heat is applied. Likewise, leaving it out of the refrigerator at room temperature can cause the cheese to thaw unevenly and become too soft on the outside. While thawing goat cheese in the refrigerator does take longer than other, warmer methods, it allows it to retain its form while thawing evenly to the core.
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