Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

This Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce has just evolved over the last few years.

I never even thought to write up the recipe, it’s so simple. In 2011, I originally posted our favourite French summer classic, Warm Goat Cheese Salad (Salade de Chèvre Chaud). It’s more of an assembly job of good ingredients than a recipe but there are a few tips I picked up when I first moved to France in 1992 that I talk about here. So, how did it turn into a deliciously clingy pasta sauce?

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

A French Salad without the Salad!

We love the salad version, but we often find salads difficult to digest in the evening (I also have IBS, so huge salads are not ideal). Outside the summer months, we also don’t feel like salad. Enough said.

It’s a Salade de Chèvre Chaud without the salad – although place some small spinach leaves on the bottom of each plate if you still want your greens. The heat of the pasta slightly wilts them.

French goat cheese - crottin de Chavignol

From the fromagerie at our local market in Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Best Goat Cheese to Use

Like the salad version, don’t skimp on using good quality goat cheese. The best kind of goat cheese to use is Crottin de Chavignol (from the charming little Loire village that also boasts some remarkable Sancerre wines from the famous town up the road) made with raw goat’s milk (lait cru).

In some of the touristy brasseries in Paris, watch out for the cheap’n’nasty stuff; the other day I was served a sickly sweet version with a thick layer of fig jam spread on Poilâne bread, then topped with the cheapest supermarket goat cheese that was bitter and didn’t like being melted (incidentally, fig jam is best served separately with a cheese board – just saying. So if you see fig jam included – AVOID IT!). Sitting on top of a ridiculous amount of green salad without much dressing, this seriously gives our visitors to France the wrong idea of the classic dish.

Needless to say, it gets my goat. Stick to garlic, olive oil, good cheese, herbs and walnuts.

Goat Cheese & walnut pasta sauce

The best, fresh quality ingredients is all that’s needed

As with the salad version, I gently fry garlic in olive oil, add chopped fresh rosemary from the garden,  melt in the cheese, toast some walnuts either in another frying pan (dry fry) or quickly under the grill to toss on top and by the time I cook the fresh pasta for a couple of minutes and toss it in the sauce with a bit of cream, dinner is ready as soon as we’ve opened the wine!

If you love goat cheese and are not keen on salads, then make this sauce with pasta next time. It’s the taste of French summer on a plate that can be enjoyed at any time of year.

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

My saucy take on the French classic, Salade de Chèvre Chaud, with toasted walnuts and rosemary to create a delicious creamy goat cheese pasta sauce. Serve with fresh tagliatelle, spaghetti or fusilli - and add some fried bacon bits if you're feeling extra decadent.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 2 people
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled, core removed & chopped finely
  • 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 (60g small cheeses) Crottins de Chavignol or good quality matured goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary (or thyme) finely chopped (or herbes de Provence)
  • 115 g (4oz) half fat cream (crème fleurette)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) lardons/bacon bits optional
  • 250 g (9oz) fresh pasta
  • handful fresh spinach leaves optional
Instructions
  1. Toast the walnuts under the grill for a couple of minutes (keep an eye on them, as you don't want them to burn) or dry-fry in a non-stick frying pan. Set aside.

  2. Gently fry the chopped garlic in the olive oil for a minute but don't brown (it will otherwise turn bitter).  Add the fresh herbs then chopped goat cheese and leave it to melt then add the cream, plus salt and ground pepper to taste.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to packet instructions. I prefer using fresh pasta which only takes a couple of minutes but if you use dried pasta, prepare the pasta more in advance or take the sauce off the heat so as not to overcook.

  4. Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the sauce, sprinkling over the toasted walnuts.

Recipe Notes

Good matching wines: Sauvignon Blanc or fruitier Chenin Blanc, ideally from the Loire (the goat cheese is from the same region). The result is a creamy, almost honey-like taste that marries to well together.

 

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this French Goat Cheese & Walnut pasta sauce? Please don’t be shy; leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram and Facebook – I love to see you making the recipes!

French Goat Cheese Walnut Herb Pasta

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Black Sesame Ice Cream

After tasting the most popular Japanese ice creams on our family trip to Japan this summer, our favourite choice was Black Sesame Ice Cream.

One or two spoonfuls of this light yet creamy dark nectar has the same kind of addictive reaction that you’d get from eating a spoonful of slightly salted peanut butter. Yet it’s not peanuts, of course – but who would have thought that black sesame seeds made into ice cream could be this good?

Black Sesame Ice Cream

Melting for Black Sesame ice cream

Japanese Ice Cream

You’ll love the Japanese word for ice cream. It looks complicated at first glance but just say this out loud:
AISUKURÏMU.

I’m not the biggest ice cream fan but when it’s hot, I adore homemade ice cream during a heatwave like it was this summer in Japan – and now, mid September, it’s back to ice cream weather in Paris this week with 29°C/84°F temperatures!

Such a dark grey colour of ice cream perhaps doesn’t look that aesthetic, does it? Neither does my black sesame version look particularly like ice cream as it melted pretty quickly in this heat while I eventually found my camera (I knew something was missing!). Although, personally, this is how I prefer it – do you? In this heat, I’m not going to take more photos.  I ate it all and have no regrets.

Matcha ice cream

Matcha Do About Green Tea Ice Cream

What I didn’t realise when I took this photo, is that the black sesame ice cream hidden underneath would be our favourite. With all the hype on the Matcha flavours, I almost felt embarrassed to prefer the Black Sesame! For more about our ice cream experiences and the sweeter side of Japan, read about it in my sweet treat post, Teatime in Japan.

Black Sesame Ice Cream: Powder or Paste?

Straight after tasting the black sesame ice cream, we headed to the nearest store to find black sesame.  Antoine and the girls were so inspired and determined we had to make this at home!

So I got to it straight away on return to develop a recipe. Here I used a 70g (2.5oz) packet of pre-prepared powdered black sesame seeds (Surigoma Black by Hokuya) which we found in the Matsuya store in Tokyo’s Asakusu district, next to the Senso-ji temple and near the popular gelateria. It worked well, and was even lovelier when toasting the black sesame in a pan first (see recipe below).

Happily, on return to Paris I discovered the most divine, intense black sesame paste (which is pre-roasted) at Nishikidôri, which makes this recipe even easier, but if you can’t find it, the powder is just as good. I also experimented using a little honey, but it overpowered the black sesame.  The family have now unanimously tasted and approved the recipe below: not too rich and lighter with milk rather than just made with cream. To top it all, black sesame seeds are so healthy too!

Black sesame ice cream

Black Sesame Ice Cream

5 from 6 votes
Black sesame ice cream
Black Sesame Ice Cream
Prep Time
13 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Chilling/Freezing Time
3 hrs
Total Time
23 mins
 

A light but creamy popular Japanese ice cream that would particularly appeal to fans of peanut butter, due to its addictive, roasted, nutty intensity of flavours.

Course: Dessert, Snack, teatime
Cuisine: French, Japanese
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 224 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 75 g (3oz) Japanese black sesame paste (or whole black sesame seeds) available from Japanese speciality stores
  • 500 ml (18 fl oz) whole milk full-fat
  • 5 egg yolks organic
  • 110 g (4oz) sugar
  • 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) cream whipping cream
  • pinch salt Fleur de sel
Instructions
  1. Open Sesame (sorry, couldn't resist). 

  2. If using whole seeds, dry roast them in a non-stick frying pan for 4-5 minutes then grind in a coffee grinder (optional step but recommend doing this to bring out extra flavour). If possible, use pre-packaged black sesame paste found in Japanese speciality stores. 

  3. Gently heat the milk in a heavy-based saucepan (do not boil).  Meanwhile, in a large bowl with a lid, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until creamy. Add the black sesame powder and salt, whisking until smooth.

  4. Pour about half of the hot milk on to the black sesame mixture, whisking until combined then transfer back to the saucepan.  Whisk constantly to keep the mixture smooth and heat over a medium heat just until thickened then remove from the heat to avoid curdling the eggs.  At this point, the mixture should smoothly coat a spoon to show that it's ready.

  5. Add the cold cream, set aside to cool, then cover and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.

  6. Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions, then freeze for at least an hour before serving.

Recipe Notes

I recommend using pre-prepared Japanese black sesame paste, as it's already roasted. However, if you can't find it from speciality Japanese stores, it's also great using whole seeds: used a 70g packet of black sesame, but if you prefer your ice cream darker and more intense, use 85g (3oz). N.B. At my local Japanese store in Paris, I learned that black tahini paste is much lighter than the Japanese black sesame paste, which has more intensity.

Serve the ice cream on its own or with lemon or yuzu macarons (if using my recipes from either book, replace fresh lemon juice with yuzu juice, available in specialist Asian stores).

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Yuzu’ll Love this with Yuzu Macarons

Sorry for the Scottish joke (can never resist – at least it’s not seedy!). Needless to say, the ice cream is delicious served with lemon macarons – better still, make yuzu macarons!  Just follow either of the lemon macaron recipes in either Mad About Macarons or Teatime in Paris, and replace the fresh lemon juice with yuzu juice, available from Japanese specialist stores.

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or just fancy making this Black Sesame Ice Cream?  Please leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram or Facebook.  – and if you like my books, then I’ll be daring and ask if you would be kind enough to leave a review on Amazon. You’ve no idea how that would help boost Teatime in Paris (my favourite of the two), as it has been in the first book’s shadow (which is being reprinted again!) and your comment could help make it visible. Thanks so much – I love to see you enjoying the recipes!

Black sesame ice cream

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Teatime in Japan

How many of you read the desserts on the menu before savoury? In many Japanese restaurants, we were surprised to find that dessert was often not even mentioned, with savoury ruling; at best, Purin (Japanese crème caramel) was the only dessert listed. To satisfy our sweet tooth, it was best to seek out speciality confectionary boutiques or stop in a café or teahouse. So, welcome to my version of Teatime in Japan – from Osaka, Kinosaki Onsen, Kyoto, Shirikawago, and Kanazawa to Tokyo.

Here is just a selection of some of the sweet treats we discovered during our (personal, not sponsored) trip.  Far from being an exhaustive list, I don’t claim to be an expert on Japanese tea and confectionary; this post reflects our own personal first experiences of Japan, sharing interesting features learned along the way.

Teatime in Japan

Teatime in Japan

One of the family’s all-time favourite trip highlights was our first experience of a most tranquil Japanese tea ceremony in the Nishida Family Garden (part of Gyokusen-Immaru garden) in Kanazawa, next to the world-famous Kenrokuen garden, home to the oldest fountain in Japan.

Held in the Saisetsu-tei Roji tea house, it’s one of Japan’s oldest at 350 years old, yet the tradition continues. However, today apparently, it’s so different in that 80% are women who enjoy the traditional tea ceremony, compared to the previously more male-dominated custom. Saisetsu-tei takes its name from “snow flutters”, part of a Haiku poem (by Junan Kinoshita, a Confucian scholar) that hangs on the wall.

Teatime in Japan

Our gracious tea hosts made the tea and explained the philosophy behind the tea ceremony.

As you walk through the Zen gardens to the tea house – only on the stepping stones – all thoughts of everyday life should vanish, as if in a meditative state of HARMONY (wa). As before entering a temple, we purify our hands with water (and mouth for the real tradition, although thankfully we were spared going the full monty) before entering. This purifying ritual permeates the soul.

Inside the tea house there is no hierarchy; lords, peasants? Everyone is on the same level to appreciate the tea, the ambience. A Samurai would leave his sword outside – in fact, this TRANQUIL (jaku) meditation was particularly important to the Samurai in order to focus on being the best of warriors. When we visited the Samurai family of Nomura house in Kanazawa’s Samurai district (Nagamachi Bukeyshiki area with pretty little canals and bridges), a small open-air garden was designed in the building purely for tea ceremonies.

Teatime in Japan

Teatime in Japan with a traditional tea ceremony

The hostess cleans all her tea-making implements with precision, ensuring PURITY (sei), as she heats up the water using the firepit (known as the furo – as it was during the record 2018 summer heatwave she used a different traditional stove not built in to the flooring, as it heats up the room), pours in the Matcha green tea powder, pours over the pure water then whisks vigorously back and forth with a bamboo whisk (the Chasen) to create its characteristic creamy foam.

As a sign of RESPECT (kei, evidently a particularly intrinsic value in Japan), each person thanks the hostess for taking the time to make the tea (Oshôban Itashimasu) then each person in turn asks politely to join in (Otemae Chôdai Itashimasu). The bowl’s prettiest pattern always faces outwards to the others and as the bowl is inspected, is turned around clockwise a couple of times then enjoyed.

Teatime in Japan

Teatime in Japan with some creamy, frothy Matcha green tea

Following the ritual lesson, we were encouraged to try our hand at preparing our own tea. As the hot water (not boiling) was poured gently on top of the Matcha powder, our wrists were given the exercise by whisking the green tea with the Chasen. It tasted different; reassured it was the same Matcha tea, it must have been the water as it was heated using a different kettle/stove.

As with the previous bowl of tea, small ceremonial wagashi were served and we were invited to eat them before sipping. Wagashi are sweet confections traditionally enjoyed with tea and have been such since the Edo period, when tea was imported to Japan from China. I say sweet wagashi, but they’re not as sweet as I was expecting, which was a pleasant surprise. This time we had soft, sugary melt-in-the-mouth Rakugan, made from glutinous rice and sugar. Each small rakugan were in pretty cute (kawaii) summer floral designs, shaped using a wooden mould.

What a most harmonious and tranquil experience, learning the most fascinating virtues of tea culture (Harmony, Respect, Purify, Tranquility) along the way. Just before we left our delightful hosts added to our vocabularly, Ichigo Ichie (literally ‘one time one meeting’) meaning LIVE THE MOMENT – something we certainly did throughout our trip as a result.

Doriyaki

Teatime in Japan

For the best Dorayaki, I’d recommend our experience in Tokyo, just 5 minutes from Monzen-Nakacho metro station (plus an incredible temple that I’ll leave you to discover for yourself, including Taiko drums and fire).

Established in 1850, this store is apparently where the dorayaki was invented. Normally made with two sponge-like pancakes and stuffed with slightly sweet Azuki red bean paste (Anko), this is a surprising version with only one pancake that’s not that sweet, beautifully soft and moist, filled with a generous amount of Anko. They also had a green bean paste but frankly, it was like eating a mushy peas pancake. Vive the doriyaki with traditional handmade Anko.

I’ve had a few in Paris before but nothing I’ve tasted to date equates to this gourmet version.

MOCHI

Teatime in Japan

Mochi are everwhere: on the street, in cafés, tea rooms and traditionally served with green tea. It’s a soft, small glutinous rice cake shaped into a ball and comes in all varieties of flavours. This popular store in Kyoto had such a big queue that we didn’t have time to stop (and with temperatures around 38°C with high humidity around midday, we thought we’d return later). So, if you get there for us, let us know how they are!  Alas, I took photos but put them up on Instagram stories and now I can’t find them. Guess I can blame the heat…

That’s a Wrap!

A few mochi are wrapped in different leaves, such as Sakura-mochi, filled with azuki bean paste (making it beautifully pink) and wrapped in a sakura leaf. Kashiwa-mochi are wrapped in oak tree leaves.

Teatime in Japan

Warabi Mochi

As we were in the Kansai region, Warabimochi were particularly popular.  Extremely chewy, they’re jelly-like treats made from bracken starch and either dipped in Matcha green tea or Kinako, roasted soybean flour.  By the end of the trip, I was addicted to the Kinako versions, probably due to their fascinating roasted flavour. They remind me of a less sweet Turkish Delight (Loukoums) with Japanese flavours.

Fukusa Mochi

Teatime in Japan

One of the delicious specialities of Kanazawa: Fukusa mochi, a Japanese baked roll cake (glutinous Gyuhi roll cake, a bit like a hole-packed pancake that looks remarkably like a huge bath sponge) with Azuki red bean jam. The outer layer is made from either baked brown sugar or Matcha green tea.

I could have eaten this whole tasting plate but remembered my manners. Instead bought them as a gift, as meeting up with Japanese friends in Tokyo; I hear it’s tradition to offer typical gifts from your travels.

Another speciality of Kanazawa is gold leaf – appropriate, as Kanazawa literally means ‘Marsh of Gold’. We particularly loved seeing gold leaf conveniently sold in tubes (not to be confused with lipstick in my handbag!) to sprinkle on top of coffee, ice cream … you name it and it turns everything to gold!

Teatime in Japan

More Wagashi Sweet Confectionary

Tai-yaki: a fish-moulded pancake-like batter or waffle filled with red bean paste, although we saw other varieties on sale such as vanilla custard cream and chocolate (unusually we didn’t see much chocolate in general on our trip). They also appeared in biscuit or cookie form too.

Daifuku: a form of mochi filled with sweet bean paste or other fillings (e.g. strawberry) and dusted in potato starch to prevent them from sticking.

Teatime in Japan

Mizu Yokan: a jelly-like sweet made with mashed azuki beans mixed with gelatin. I forgot to take a photo of it, but to see the whole picture, including a recipe, check out my friend Nami’s post how to make Yokan on Just One Cookbook.

Oshiruko: a type of dessert soup that consists of hot, sweet bean soup with grilled rice cakes (mochi) or rice flour dumplings. The red bean soup may be either smooth or chunky. We enjoyed a variation of this at the Zen Café in Kyoto’s Gion district, where the soup was chilled with almond pudding and fresh figs – sheer bliss during such a heatwave!
The list is apparently endless and if only we had more time to try and discover them all!

Bake Cheese Tart

Teatime in Japan

Although more French in spirit, this Matcha baked cheese tart is worth a mention from the Japanese chain, Bake Cheese Tart. The pastry base is spot on: a crispy, perfect quantity to matcha the filling, which is more liquid than I expected but not too much that it falls out of the base. There’s a real tease between sugar vs salt – even on the aftertaste.

There’s also a plain version, not unlike a Portuguese tart (see recipe for Pastéis de Nata) but less sweet and yet there’s definitely a cheesecake taste to it – yet it’s a tartlet. Frankly this is heaven! So glad we saw the enticing advert for this in the Kyoto metro. That’s all the shop makes but boy, they do it well.

Macarons

Teatime in Japan

We were delighted to see macarons in many boutiques and in Osaka, they were even served at the breakfast buffet in our hotel (mango-passionfruit). The most beautiful ones I saw (sorry, the image was on Instagram stories and I can’t recuperate it) were from the Matsuya department store in Asakusa, all individually wrapped.  There are also many French pastry chefs who have stores in Japan, and so the more western specialities of Parisian macarons, patisserie and/or chocolate can be found at Jean-Paul Hévin, Pierre Hermé, Foucher, Christophe Roussel, Sebastien Bouillet, Laurent Dûchene, just to name a few. Many are found in larger department stores and it’s a real treat to discover a gastronomic world always in their basements.

Alas, the only image I had was the surprising green tea pointy-looking macs I saw in a most touristy boutique near the Senso-ji temple in Anakusa, Tokyo. We were wondering if they were called nipples (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Green Tea Ice Cream

Teatime in Japan

Speaking of the Anakusa area, here we discovered the strongest Matcha Green Tea ice cream in the world from Suzukien in Tokyo. The strongest gelato came in at number 7 and it was indeed incredibly intense with little sugar, like the majority of the sweets in Japan.

Teatime in Japan

Our unanimous favourites throughout the trip were Anko (sweetened red bean paste) ice cream in Kinosaki Onsen, Hojicha (roasted tea) ice cream in the Japanese Alps in Shirikiwa-go, and here in Anakusa, including Black Sesame ice cream (I’ve since made this on return to Paris and will be sharing the recipe with you in the coming days).

Japanese Canelé

Teatime in Japan canele

Teatime in Japan with sweet potato canelés?

You heard me right: we discovered these remarkably French-looking canelés in Osaka at Canelé du Japon where they came in all sorts of surprising flavours such as yuzu, sweet potato, apple-caramel, or  flower salt (fleur de sel) from the Guérande. This may be for Teatime in Japan but they were served mini canelés at breakfast at our hotel in Osaka – more like the original ones we find originating from Bordeaux with their typical vanilla and rum soft centre with a caramelised exterior.  Also seen at breakfast were French pains au chocolat, spelled Pan’ochokora – how adorable is that?

If you’d like to make Canelés, my easy recipe is in my book, Teatime in Paris, along with the story that goes behind them and where to find the best in Paris.

Teatime in Japan

Some of you have perhaps already seen our family’s first trip to Japan this summer documented on my Instagram and Facebook feeds, while I was on transit in trains.  If you’d like me to document these postcards detailing our adventures and tips, please let me know below and I’ll post the extensive 3-week trip here on le blog for you.