A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

On most mornings, Chris Owen’s two younger sons herd the family’s goats down from the mountain and into the milking parlor. Thus begins a daily ritual that produces a bounty

Madison County Championship Rodeo

On most mornings, Chris Owen’s two younger sons herd the family’s goats down from the mountain and into the milking parlor. Thus begins a daily ritual that produces a bounty

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

On most mornings, Chris Owen’s two younger sons herd the family’s goats down from the mountain and into the milking parlor. Thus begins a daily ritual that produces a bounty

Flavor Fresh from the Farm

On most mornings, Chris Owen’s two younger sons herd the family’s goats down from the mountain and into the milking parlor. Thus begins a daily ritual that produces a bounty of creamy and delicious goat cheeses. At Spinning Spider Creamery in Marshall, running the farm is a family affair dedicated to happy and healthy goats.

With the help of her husband and three sons, Owen crafts a collection of artisanal farmstead goat cheeses that include raw milk aged, bloomy rind, and fresh chevre varieties. Owen chooses to do much of the work by hand — even when using a machine would make her life easier.

For example, after milking the goats two times a day, she carries the milk in buckets instead of running it through pipes. Why? “When the milk goes crashing through the pipes, the fat globules bounce around and lose flavor,” Owen says. Also, it isn’t unusual to find her out in the aging room at 9 p.m., flipping the cheese one last time.

The result of her labor is an assortment of unique goat cheese. The complexity and creaminess of the feta or chevre couldn’t be overlooked in any recipe, and these cheeses are the stars of Owen’s kitchen. Such gourmet dishes as goat cheese lasagna, goat cheese cheesecake, and sauteed spinach with raw milk feta and balsamic vinegar are standard fare for her family meals. Bring the rich flavors to your own table with these recipes.

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Pasta with Roasted Vegetables, Goat Cheese, and Basil
Yields: 4-6 servings

4 medium-size zucchinis, cut into a 1-inch dice
1 large red onion, cut into a -inch dice
1 pint grape tomatoes
11/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound short pasta (like penne or rigatoni), cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, torn
4 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), crumbled

Preheat oven to 450˚. Spread zucchini, onion, and tomatoes onto a large nonstick baking sheet, and toss with olive oil; season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Transfer roasted vegetables to serving bowl; toss with cooked pasta, torn basil, and crumbled goat cheese. Serve.

Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Blackberry Sauce
Yield: one 9-inch cake.

For Crust:
5 ounces graham crackers, crushed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For sauce:
about 10 ounces fresh blackberries, roughly chopped
1/3 cup sugar
juice of one lemon

For cake:
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), softened
1/4 cup sour cream
11/2 cups sugar
grated zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350˚. Process crushed graham crackers in the base of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment until finely ground. Add melted butter, and pulse until mixture comes together; press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Let crust chill in the freezer while preparing the cake.

Place cream cheese, goat cheese, sour cream, and sugar in the base of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until creamy. Add lemon zest and vanilla extract; beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, using a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition; beat until combined. Pour over chilled crust.

Place cake on a baking sheet, and bake for about 50 to 55 minutes. (Cake should be set around the edges and wobbly in the center.) Remove cake from oven, and let cool completely. Once cool, carefully run a knife around the edge. Let chill in refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

To make the blackberry sauce: Combine blackberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Let cook until a slightly thickened sauce forms, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature; chill.

To cut cheesecake, run a large, sharp knife under very hot water and carefully pat dry; cut into slices. Serve with blackberry sauce on the side.

Herbed Goat Cheese Spread
Yield: 1 cup.

8 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), softened
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup half-and-half
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Combine goat cheese, butter, half-and-half, and lemon juice in the base of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment; pulse until well blended. Transfer mixture to a medium-size bowl, and stir in dill, basil, and parsley; season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve with toasted french bread.

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This story was published on May 01, 2010