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Business booming at Longview's Haute Goat Creamery

By Christina Lane
May 7, 2013 at 10 p.m.


The demand for locally produced goat cheese is at an all-time high for Laura and Jeff Vanderbilt.

When Laura Vanderbilt brought Haute Goat Creamery to Longview a couple of years ago, she was producing about 15 pounds of goat cheese per week. They started by selling their product weekly at the Historic Longview Farmers Market. Today, Laura and her husband, Jeff, have a storefront on a High Street where they produce about 150 pounds of goat cheese each week to sell in their store and at the market.

But what is it about goat cheese that makes it so haute?

"To me, it's more about the romance of the goat," Laura Vanderbilt said. "Also, the fact that not everybody uses it appeals to me. It's a nontraditional item. I love to cook. I'm a home cook, but I'm a gourmet wannabe cook, so I look for items that are nontraditional. I like specialty items, and I hope others see it as so."

<strong>Making goat cheese</strong>

When her children left the nest, Vanderbilt wanted something to keep herself busy.

"I like to feed people, and I like meeting people," she said.

She'd heard about the then Lubbock-based Haute Goat Creamery from her daughter's boyfriend (now her son-in-law). She visited it, and when its owner Nancy Patton decided to sell the business to move to Colorado, Vanderbilt decided it was just what she wanted to do. So, in 2010, she purchased the company.

"She gave me all of her recipes. She's won awards before," Vanderbilt said. "She mainly sold to chefs. Our business model is different with the farmers market and the store."

Vanderbilt brought the business to Longview two years ago, selling at the Historic Longview Farmers Market. She more recently purchased property at 415 N. High St. for a store that is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

Each week, Haute Goat Creamery receives milk from Yantis. The milk is pumped at about 100 gallons a time from a trunk into a tank that keeps it cold at 38 degrees Fahrenheit, Jeff Vanderbilt said.

"The key to making goat cheese - or any cheese for that matter - is having good, fresh milk," he said.

When they begin to make the cheese, it is placed in another 45-gallon tank where it is pasteurized, he said. After it is pasteurized, curds are separated from whey.

For the creamery's fresh Chevre - a moist, creamy, hand-ladled cheese with a mild flavor - it goes into a mold with holes. The holes allow the whey to drain out and creates softer curds, Laura Vanderbilt said.

Harder cheeses are cooked longer, curds are cut into squares. They go into a cheese press, brine, air out and are placed in an aging chamber for about four months on average. Some cheeses take up to nine months to age, she said.

The cheeses are vacuum-sealed for sale. The company makes its Chevre in plain as well as about 15 spread flavors including, basil pesto, Thai pepper and chimichurri. They also make crottin, amalthea, faintly blue tomme, feta and manchego cheeses, as well as yogurt.

<strong>Using goat cheese</strong>

The Vanderbilts said that while there are allergens in both goat milk and cow milk, often people who are allergic to cow's milk can drink goat's milk.

"(Goat milk) has slightly lower overall fat content," Jeff Vanderbilt said.

He added that the fat particles in goat milk are about 20 percent of the size of the fat particles in cow milk.

"I didn't think I would like goat cheese until I started making it," he said. "I love it though. I eat it all the time."

Laura Vanderbilt said goat cheese can be used as a substitute for cow cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, butter and other items. For example, manchego cheese can be substituted for cheddar cheese to shred on tacos and quesadillas, she said. The cheese can be used in baking pie crusts and a variety of items, she said. Yogurt made with goat cheese can be used as a dip or to make salad dressing.

"I would encourage people to try substitutions," she said.

Vanderbilt's cheeses are being sold in a variety of locations in Tyler and Longview, including Kyle's Kwik Stop on Judson Road, Skinner's Grocery and Market on Judson Road, Jack's Natural Foods on Loop 281 and Vitamin's Plus on Loop 281 in Longview. It's sold at Fresh by Brookshire's, Country Meat Market, and Whole Health Foods in Tyler.

She would like to continue slowly growing her business. She is considering some ideas, such as opening the creamery up for people to bring in wine and have a cheese tasting, or offering other foods to sell there.

"I think our business is changing and I feel like I'm at a crossroads," Vanderbilt said. "We are trying to get into the Dallas area. We are just deciding how we want to move forward."

Vanderbilt shared some of her favorite recipes that call for using goat cheese or yogurt. Here are the recipes:

<strong>Lemon Yogurt Cake</strong>

<ul> <li>1 1/2 cups flour</li> <li>2 teaspoons baking powder</li> <li>1 cup Haute Goat Yogurt</li> <li>1/2 teaspoon salt</li> <li>1 1/3 cups sugar, divided</li> <li>3 large eggs</li> <li>2 teaspoons grated lemon zest</li> <li>1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract</li> <li>1/2 cup canola oil</li> <li>1/3 cup lemon juice</li> </ul>

<strong>Glaze:</strong>

<ul> <li>1 cup confectioners sugar</li> <li>2 tablespoons lemon juice</li> </ul>

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold the canola oil into the batter until it is incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the cup lemon juice and remaining cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake and place on a rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon - sugar mixture over cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

Combine the confectioners sugar and lemon juice and pour over cake to glaze

<strong>Chevre with Fresh Herbs and Lemon Olive Oil</strong>

<ul> <li>1 package of Plain Chevre</li> <li>1/3 cup of chopped fresh herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Parsley, Chives</li> <li>3 tablespoons Lemon Olive Oil</li> </ul>

Mix oil and herbs and spoon over goat cheese. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

<strong>Pie Crust for savory fillings</strong>

<ul> <li>2 cups flour</li> <li>1 cup grated Parmesan cheese</li> <li>1/2 cup soft goat cheese (Chevre)</li> <li>Pinch of salt</li> <li>Pinch of cayenne pepper</li> <li>1 stick cold butter, cut into pea sized pieces</li> <li>2 eggs</li> </ul>

Combine the flour, Parmesan, goat cheese, salt, cayenne and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Remove the dough, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out on a flour surface.

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