Pasta Fagioli with Maple Goat Cheese

Penny Barsch visited our farm this Spring and sent us a recipe that she whipped up using our maple chevre. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
“This is going to sound like an unusual combination but I have a recipe for Pasta Fagioli which I love and I add a spoonful to your maple goat cheese to it when serving. It is heaven! Best of luck with your business
— Penny Barsch

Pasta Fagioli with maple goat cheese

Extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves smashed garlic cloves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 15 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans drained
2 cups cooked macaroni
Fat Toad maple goat cheese

  • Put a layer of oil in pan and saute garlic, rosemary and 1/2 the parsley
  • Add tomatoes and salt and pepper and mash the tomatoes with a potato masher
  • Add beans and 1/2 cup of water you can use the reserved water from cooking the macaroni)
  • Mash some of the beans as you simmer the soup
  • Add 2 cups cooked pasta and continue simmering for about 10 minutes
  • Fish out the rosemary then add the remaining parsley
  • Ladle into bowls and top with a generous spoonful of the maple goat cheese

Sweet Nutty Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts braising in cream

Brussel sprouts braising in cream

Brussels sprouts recipe: Transform sprouts from sweet to creamy comfort food

By Calley Hastings, for the Free Press • Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ten or so stalks of Brussels sprouts still stand out in our garden.

They show signs of deterioration, leaves are discoloring, stalks are giving way to gravity and slowly drooping toward the ground, but there are still dozens of sweet green sprouts hiding under each leaf.

We have been fulfilling our duty of eating Brussels sprouts several times a week in order to take advantage of these last few signs of life before everything gives way to the months of cold ahead. The deer, still busy with the apples found in our abandoned orchard, have yet to discover these hidden morsels.

Like most of the population, it seems, I hated Brussels sprouts as a kid, but I have grown to love them as an adult. Or, better put, I have grown to love them since I started growing them.

I’m not sure I gave Brussels sprouts the time of day before I grew them. Honestly, who would? But now I am so thankful to have this incredibly fresh, green vegetable still coming out of my garden at the end of November.

The wonderful thing about Brussels sprouts is that they get sweeter after frosts. Earlier on in the fall, when cider was fresh off the press, I was braising them in cider and butter for a caramelized sweet sprout.

Now I’m in hibernation mode and craving creamy comfort food, and so, in this recipe, I use cream to braise the sprouts instead of cider. I then add Parmesan cheese on top to cut the creaminess (try putting other cheeses on top as well).

The result is a dish that is quite reminiscent of butter-and-cheese popcorn. The smell and taste bring me back to sixth grade, when every Friday our class had the extreme privilege of making popcorn to sell to the rest of the kids in the school. Those were the days!

Enjoy this recipe during the holiday season!

Brussel sprout stalk still beautiful at the end of November

Brussel sprout stalk still beautiful at the end of November

Braised Creamed Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese

Serves 4


  • 10-12 medium size Brussels sprouts
  • 1 1/2 cups cream (half and half or whipping cream)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


Wash Brussels sprouts and cut off outside leaves if needed. Cut sprouts in half. Place face down in a large saute pan. Pour cream over sprouts.

Cook with cover on over medium heat for eight to 10 minutes. Stick a fork through them to make sure they are mostly cooked. When they are, remove lid and cook for three more minutes.

Turn heat off when cream has been absorbed and the bottom is starting to brown. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top and then sprinkle Parmesan on.

Serve hot.

Homemade bread w/ local butter, salad with caramel dressing and of course Brussel sprouts!

Homemade bread w/ local butter, salad with caramel dressing and of course Brussel sprouts!

Calley Hastings runs Fat Toad Farm, a small goat dairy in Brookfield, along with family members Steve Reid, Judith Irving and Josey Hastings. They produce fresh goat cheese and goats milk caramel (cajeta) along with 80 percent of their own food. Find their products in natural food stores throughout Vermont. Look for more recipes and information about the farm at

Goat Cheese, Sage, Garlic and Tomato Puff Pastry

Sliced tomatoes and chopped garlic

Sliced tomatoes and chopped garlic

Have you discovered Puff Pastry? It’s amazing. I’m used to defrosting Filo dough and spending hours brushing each layer with butter for amazing spanicopita and baklava, but when you don’t have hours to do this, store-bought puff pastry is amazing. The only brand I’ve seen out there is Pepperidge Farms, though maybe our grocery stores are limited. I had left over puff pastry from a Caramel, Brie, Almond tart I had done and I wanted to serve a new appetizer. See below for the recipe:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1/2 hour

Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Tart

Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Tart


1 package puff pastry
12 oz fresh chevre (goat cheese)
6 oz sharp cheddar (chopped into small chunks)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 ripe tomato (cut into 1/4 ” pieces- take out seeds first to reduce water content)
3 garlic cloves (chopped up)
1 tsp dry sage
1 tsp fresh oregano or marjoram

Hot out of the oven and ready to eat! Hmm, goat cheese!

Hot out of the oven and ready to eat! Hmm, goat cheese!

Defrost puff pastry. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8X8 baking dish. Place puff pastry in bottom. Spread goat cheese over the bottom of the pastry. Spread cheddar and Parmesan on top of goat cheese. Spread tomato and garlic evenly. Sprinkle sage and oregano on top of all other ingredients. Cook at 350 for a half hour or until pastry puff is nice light to medium golden brown. Note: If you under cook it the pastry underneath all the ingredients will remain moist instead of crisp.

Hint: This is a base recipe for any great appetizer. Experiment with different cheeses, vegetables and spices!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi: A Labor of Love

We have our seeds!

We traded our goat’s milk caramel for seeds from High Mowing Organic Seed Co. out of Hardwick this year. Now we are sitting fat and happy, secure in the fact that we have next year’s seeds ready to go.

The only seeds we didn’t get from them are potatoes and garlic. We planted our garlic in the fall using seed from this year’s harvest, and now it is hibernating under a thick layer of straw.

Potatoes, on the other hand, are stored in the root cellar during the winter both for spring seed and of course to eat.

Five bushels of potatoes stare up at me when I go out to the root cellar, begging to be eaten before they start to sprout. Even though we grow five varieties, their pasty skin and knobby eyes become less than inspiring after a while. There are only so many batches of mashed potatoes you can make and still be satisfied with this tuber.

Luckily, I’ve come across an incredibly labor-intensive but potato-worthy recipe.

When I milk our goats, usually about a two-hour process, there is always some downtime while they finish eating their grain. Because I’m a multitasker and can’t sit still, I spend this time breezing through recipes and food magazines. A few weeks ago I came across this recipe for gnocchi in Gourmet Magazine. I knew it would take several hours to make, and so I put it off until just recently, when I spent all afternoon in the kitchen with my sister, Josey, who reluctantly agreed to be my sous chef.

We were visiting my grandparents in Maine and had offered to cook them dinners because at this stage in their lives they HATE cooking. My sister’s night featured steamed mussels in white wine, garlic and butter, and Japanese fish stew. Of course, I was her sous chef!

My night was sweet-potato gnocchi with fried sage and chestnuts, and sauteed lemon ginger apples and carrots. Both were amazing! I recommend making this homemade pasta for someone special, because it’s a labor of love and should be shared with people you love.

Put this recipe aside until the day when you wake up and say, “I will cook today.” Find some great music to listen to, crack open a bottle of wine or make yourself some tea, and spend hours in the kitchen enjoying the process of creating food.

RECIPE: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage and Chestnuts

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Serves: 6-8

Cooking time: 2 1/4 hours. Active Time: 1 1/4 hours. (Tip: Leave yourself three hours so you can enjoy it!)

1 1/4 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
1 sweet potato (about 3/4 pound)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sage leaves
1/2 cup chestnuts (see note below)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

You will need: a potato ricer or a food mill with fitted fine disk.


1. Preheat oven to 450 with rack in middle. Pierce russet and sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Then bake until just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Prepare chestnuts: Gourmet’s recipe suggested you use bottled roasted chestnuts very thinly sliced with a blade slicer or vegetable peeler. I prefer using fresh chestnuts, so I bought them whole from our local market. They are abundant during the holiday season.

You need 15 whole chestnuts and one tablespoon butter.

Heat butter in medium-size skillet over medium heat. Cut an X into one side of the chestnuts. Cook chestnuts for 15-20 minutes stirring every few minutes to heat both sides. To see if they are done crack one open by using a large, flat-bladed knife to crush it. You should be able to peel off the nut casing and red skin easily. The chestnuts should be sweet and nutty. Peel chestnuts and cut into thin slices. Put aside for later.

3. Cool potatoes slightly and peel off skin. Put through the mill or ricer onto a sheet pan. Spread out on pan to cool quickly. Lightly flour two other baking sheets or cutting boards and put to the side.

4. Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. With hands or pastry scraper, mound potatoes into middle of sheet. Form a well in the center. Add egg mixture and knead in with hands; the mixture will be very wet. Start to knead in grated cheese and 1 1/2 cups flour. Add more flour if necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough.

5. Cut dough into six pieces. One at a time, form each piece of dough into a half-inch-thick rope on a lightly floured surface. Cut rope into half-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a small ball. Turn a fork over and hold at a 45 degree angle, with tips of tines touching work surface. One at a time, roll gnocchi down fork tines, pressing with thumb to make ridges on one side (or for a simpler method but not as perfect, press fork tines into each gnocchi while on baking sheet).

6. Fry sage leaves and chestnuts. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Fry sage leaves in 3 batches, stirring, until they turn a shade lighter and begin to crisp, about one minute per batch. Transfer to paper towels with slotted spoon and sprinkle with salt.

Fry sliced chestnuts in three batches using the same method. Reserve oil in the skillet. (If there is very little oil left add another 2 tablespoons.) Add butter to oil in skillet and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for about two minutes or until golden brown.

7. Bring pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add half of gnocchi to water. Cook until they float to the surface, about three minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the skillet. Coat gnocchi with oil and butter over medium heat. Cook second batch of gnocchi and add to skillet. Then serve with fried sage, chestnuts and grated cheese.

Note: If you are not feeding a lot of people you can freeze some gnocchi for later. Lay uncooked gnocchi on a baking sheet and put in freezer. When frozen, remove from sheet, place in a zip-top plastic bag and voila! You can take them out frozen and cook them in boiling water next time.

Sunday Afternoon Naps

A lazy winter Sunday afternoon

A lazy winter Sunday afternoon

Let me make it clear right off. I’m a big fan of Sunday afternoon naps. However, I’m not the one napping here. It’s the goats.

Sunday afternoons I go over to the cheese room to pasteurize and culture the milk in preparation for making cheese Monday. It’s about a three hour job. I have a window that looks right out into the goat yard and barn so, in between steps, I can keep my eye on what they are doing.

And what they are doing, mostly, is chewing their cud and napping. Chew chew chew chew. Chewing cud is a very important job for goats and they must allocate big chunks of time during the day to doing that otherwise they won’t be fully digesting their food.

After that exhausting enterprise, they fall off into napland. Today I was watching Chester primarily. She started with her head in the air…and then …it slowly… slowly… fell down to the ground. Very much like my head while I’m reading a book. Next time I looked, she was fully splayed into the hay pack, every part of her body fully and totally relaxed. I was jealous.

But I can’t complain too much because the other thing that happens on Sunday afternoons is that All the Traditions airs on Vermont Public Radio and I get to listen to really wonderful music the whole time I’m measuring culture, labeling the caramel jars from yesterday’s production, monitoring the temperature of the milk, and setting up the room for tomorrow’s early morning cheese draining.

And then I peek out again at the goats – and they’re all up and outside! It must be getting close to 4:30, milking time, and they know it.

Steve milking the goats Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Steve milking the goats Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Gettin goat milk out of bulk tank to pasteurize for cheese Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Gettin goat milk out of bulk tank to pasteurize for cheese Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Baby Growing Time

Judith Irving nuzzling with Mama goat

Judith Irving nuzzling with Mama goat

There’s something that changes this time of year in the goat barn. I felt it strongly early this morning, doing chores. It was 4 degrees outside, the sun hadn’t come up yet, the moon and Jupiter were still very visible. And the baby goats were busily growing inside their moms. I could almost feel it.

There’s just two months, well, seven weeks, to birthing season. That means that we are just drying off all the goats that were bred in October. They need two months to put all their energy into growing healthy babies. And they sort of radiate “baby growing time”. They are round, warm and very fuzzy. They like to lie around a lot. They are enthusiastic hay eaters. They aren’t quite as sprightly as they used to be so there’s less banging of heads and running around. They come up and nuzzle a lot.

I can already sense what things will feel and look like come March. The does will start looking like wheelbarrows with heads, no offense girls. We’ll start checking morning, noon, night and midnight for relaxed tendons, discharges, pawing – all signs of imminent birth.

But for now, it’s slow and peaceful. Chores only take about 45 minutes instead of an hour and a half. We are only milking 12 goats (the ones that are being bred now for delivery in the summer). We are making cheese only once a week instead of three times. Caramel takes much longer to make because of the change in milk chemistry but we are only doing that once or twice a week.

I take the goats out for snow romps as often as possible. There’s really nothing more fun than taking 40 goats out into chest deep snow in the woods. They eagerly chaw on twigs, bark, dry ragweed and asters. They really like the snow.

We’re all slowing down a bit, waiting for the next chapter.

Getting fatter every day!

Getting fatter every day!