Tasia’s TableCooking with the Artisan Cheesemaker at Belle Chevre

Tasia’s Table is a collection of recipes and stories from the award-winning cheesemaker at Belle Chevre.

Tasia’s Table is a collection of recipes and stories from the award-winning cheesemaker at Belle Chevre. Tasia’s circuitous life and career journey led her to a small fromagerie in rural Alabama where she now shares her passion and philosophy on food with home cooks across the country. In this beautiful book, Tasia shares the recipes from her cultural influences—both Southern and Greek — that shape the setting of her table for friends and family daily. From goat cheese frittatas to goat cheese ice-cream to saganaki and buttermilk biscuits, she gives an inviting glimpse into diverse and rich culinary traditions that readers can embrace in their own kitchens.

Tasia Malakasis is a former technology executive turned cheesemaker after a resolute and stubborn move to follow her passion for food. Tasia is the owner of one of the most highly acclaimed artisan creameries in the United States at Fromagerie Belle Chevre. Belle Chevre has close to 100 national awards and critical acclaim from the country’s most respected and authoritative fromage experts. Her passion for food and philosophy is that it should be fun and approachable, which is what drives her creativity in the kitchen and at the fromagerie every day. http://www.bellechevre.com | Stephanie Schamban is a freelance food photographer who lives in Alabama with her husband and five children. She is published on her blogs Sale E Pepe (SaleEPepeblog.com) and Petit Four (PetitFourblog.com).

Tasia Malakasis has answered a few of our questions about, her passion for cheese, Alabama, her award winning dairy and of course her book Tasia’s Table.


How did your love of cheese develop? Was there a particular ‘ah-ha’ moment from which there was no turning back?
I have always loved great food of which cheese is in a category all on its own.  My ah-ha moment was when I realized that one of the most highly applauded creameries was in my back yard (15 miles from where I grew up).

Can you tell us a little about Le Belle Chevre and it’s history?
Belle Chevre was founded in 1989 and has been making fine goats milk cheeses in the tiny town of Elkmont, Alabama ever since.  Belle Chevre sells to the country’s finest cheese shops and is consistently recognized with the highest awards in the industry for its fine cheeses.  In recent years, since I acquired the business, the cheeses have expanded into more retailers and grocers in the South where it is made.  Making the cheeses accessible has been and continues to be one of my highest priorities.


What was/is about chevre that drew you in so passionately?
The taste!


How does a high-tech executive evolve into a cheese maker?
I have no idea!  I tell people that I am an accidental cheese maker because I never knew that that was an available choice.  But it pursued me and I ended up changing my life for it.


Can you tell us a little about Elkmont, AL? Is it an area given to artisan food production?
Well, BBQ is artisan isn’t it? Goat cheese is certainly not the norm in Elkmont but now that is part of what Elkmont is known for.


You have written that you first worked as an apprentice at Le Belle Chevre. What was that experience like and did you apprentice or train anywhere else?
The experience sealed the deal for me and is what prompted me to acquire the business.  I loved every single part of it.  Belle Chevre was the first and only apprenticeship.


Can you tell us a little about ‘Tasia Table’? What was it like to write? How did the recipes develop?
Tasia’s Table is really a compilation of all that I love to do in the Kitchen.  As a cheesemaker there are obviously cheese recipes but also recipes from my Southern and my Greek heritage.  It is also full of stories from a lifetime of celebrating the table and the bounty it provides.


What’s next? Are you currently working on any new projects (book related or not)?
At Belle Chevre we always have something fun up our sleeve.  We have just launched a line of goat cheese cheesecakes and a fun line of DIY (do it yourself) cheese making kits.


©2012 Booksaboutfood.com



Black-Eyed Pea Cakes

1 cup dried black-eyed peas

3 cups water

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup goat cheese

1 tablespoon jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced

2 teaspoons (about) olive oil

Salsa, medium-hot, prepared



Place dried black-eyed peas in medium pot. Add enough cold water to cover by  3 inches; let stand overnight. Drain peas.



Return peas to pot. Add 3 cups water. Cover; simmer until peas are tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Drain peas, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid.



Cook’s note: One 16-ounce can of black-eyed peas can be substituted for the dried peas. Begin recipe here; rinse canned peas well before using.



Transfer 1 1/4 cups peas to processor and puree until smooth, adding anough reserved cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time to help blend. Transfer puree to a large bowl. Mix in beaten egg, onion, lime juice, hot pepper sauce and remaining whole peas. Stir in flour. Season with salt and pepper.



Mix goat cheese and jalapeño peppers in small bowl. Let stand 30 minutes.



Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-low heat.  Using 1 1/2 tablespoons batter for each pancake, spoon batter into skillet. Cook until batter is almost set, about 3 minutes. Turn pancakes over; cook until cooked through. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet; keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining batter; adding more oil to skillet as needed, making 24 pancakes.



Spoon salsa onto plates, Arrange 4 pancakes alongside salsa on each plate. Top with goat cheese mixture and serve.

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