Tag Archive for Blue cheese

What is the difference between varieties of blue cheese?

difference between blue cheese and gorgonzola

Well before we answer that question, we should first all be on the same page that blue cheese is not a cheese all by itself. It really is just a categorization of many cheese varieties that are best known for the blue streaks of mold in them.

Yes, it is mold. Yes, it is put there on purpose. Yes, a lot of people are completely repulsed by blue cheese but there are many more who love it. I have always heard that it is a taste that must be acquired. But if that is the case, how come I’ve witnessed a 3 year old devour blue cheese and love it! Man did she stink though! Whew!!

Is it Bleu Cheese or Blue Cheese?

Well, that depends on where the cheese is from. Bleu is French for blue so if the blue cheese you are referring to is from France, I’d write it Bleu. But that’s also kind of dumb. If it is going to be written bleu, it should be called ‘fromage bleu’ instead of bleu cheese. Why mix two languages….but I digress onto my “I love the French language and get sick of how people mess it up so badly” soapbox. Excuse moi, s’il vous plait.

Bottom line, if you live in America, you should probably just play it safe and write it as ‘blue cheese’.

What is the difference between varieties of blue cheese?

In general, all blue cheeses are made from either cow, sheep or goat’s milk and have a mold added to them. The mold can be added at different times of the production process (i.e., before or after curds are formed) and can be many different varieties of mold. The most common are versions of the mold Penicillium from the local region where the cheese is made.

After that, each variety of blue cheese varies on the time it ages, type of milk used (cow, milk, goat), specifications for the variety and many other details in the process.

Gorgonzola versus Roquefort versus Stilton

The first and foremost difference between each of these is where they are made. All of these are protected to only be called Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Stilton based on being made in an specific region. It is really no different than sparkling wine made in Champagne being the only sparkling wine called Champagne or sweet onions grown in Vidalia, Georgia being the only sweet onions called Vidalia.

Gorgonzola cheese is produced in a small area of Northern Italy and is made from either cow’s milk or goat’s milk. Penicillium glaucum is what is added to the cheese.

Roquefort cheese is made in a small area of Southern France from sheep’s milk with penicillium roqueforte added during processing.

Stilton cheese is produced in a small area of England

Maytag Blue Cheese is produced in the US, Iowa to be exact. It is made by Maytag Dairies and thus gets its name from the folks who invented their version (instead of a region of the US). It is made from cow’s milk.

Cabrales cheese is a blue cheese made in Spain.

Danish Blue is made where? That’s right.

Irish Cashel – you get the point yet?

There are many other varieties of blue cheese, too many to list here.

How do you choose a mild blue cheese or a strong blue cheese?

In general, the younger the cheese, the more mild it will be. The younger cheeses are also creamier. The older cheeses are stronger and more crumbly.

According to my local cheese expert, Danish Blue and Gorgonzola are considered more on the mild side for a blue cheese and Roquefort and Maytag are generally on the strong end of the spectrum.

In McNack’s first Mystery Basket Challenge, we had an American made blue cheese from Point Reyes in the basket. Another great choice, if you like blue cheese!

As for me, I’m still trying to acquire that taste. But remember, don’t go overboard eating blue cheese at a cocktail party. If you do, bring some breath mints!!!

Blue Cheese and Roasted Rutabaga Puree

Blue cheese and roasted rutabaga puree

Regardless of what Denise says about me, I have not cooked everything in the world. A rutabaga is one of those things I’ve never touched. But, there is a first time for everything and this was a delightful surprise at what a great root vegetable this really is. I hope you enjoy the blue cheese and roasted rutabaga puree as a great side dish to your next meal!

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Time Required:Prep Time – 10min; Cook Time – 45 minutes

Ingredients:

1 large rutabaga

2T blue cheese (Point Reyes cheese is what we used!)

6oz half-and-half cream

1 – 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

salt and pepper

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Food processor

How to make blue cheese and roasted rutabaga puree:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and peel the rutabaga with a knife and then dice into a large dice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and roast until tender (stirring a couple of times). This will probably take about 40 minutes.

(I forgot to take a picture but it looked a lot like this minus the Brussels sprouts)

Roasted Rutabaga and Brussels Sprouts

Meanwhile, crumble as much blue cheese as you like. I’m still ‘acquiring’ the taste for blue cheese so I only put a couple of ounces in, but if you like it, put a bit more.

Place the blue cheese in a small pan with the half and half cream until the blue cheese melts.

When the rutabaga is tender, place in a food processor (aka Cuisinart for Denise!) with the chopping blade. Add the cream and blue cheese. Puree until mostly smooth. Begin to add chicken broth and puree until your desired consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. I topped this with some of the reduced sauce from the braised short rib pie but they would have been fine on their own too.

Delicious!

Blue cheese and roasted rutabaga puree

Variations:

Use a different cheese if you are not a blue cheese fan. I think any soft, creamy cheese would do wonderfully, especially a nice goat cheese.

Meal Ideas:

I served this as a side to the blackberry and red wine braised short rib pie and it was AMAZING!!

Got Leftovers?:

These tasted just as good reheated!

Yes…I think we all know by now that a food processor is a Cuisinart in my world. Do we REALLY need to keep pointing that out?? Oh..and now that you have cooked a rutabaga, I think you HAVE cooked everything in the world! ~ Denise

Still lots of things I’ve never eaten or cooked but I’m not saying what because I’d rather not be surprised with them in our next Mystery Basket!! ~Melissa

Blue Cheese Filled Puff Pastry with Blackberry Sauce

Chipotle Beer Braised Short Ribs

I don’t work with puff pastry often. I use it to make baked brie and that’s pretty much it. When I saw blue cheese, blackberries and puff pastry in the mystery basket, I knew I was going to make blue cheese filled puff pastry with blackberry sauce. I was pretty confident about the puff pastry, but had never made a blackberry sauce. I’ll be honest…I’d make it again in a heartbeat!!

Level of Difficulty:Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 10 min; Cook Time – 25 min

Ingredients:

Blue cheese filled puff pastry

2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted

4 oz. Blue cheese, crumbled

1 egg

Blackberry Sauce

1 pint of blackberries, washed

1/4 cup sugar

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Parchment paper

Pastry Brush

Wooden Spoon

Preparing Blue Cheese Filled Puff Pastry with Blackberry Sauce:

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out one sheet of puff pastry onto the parchment paper and sprinkle it with blue cheese. Gently lay the other puff pastry sheet on top, pinching the edges together. Crack the egg in a bowl and whisk it with 1T of water for an egg wash. Brush the egg wash all over the top of the puff pastry to help it turn a more deep brown color. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.  

Blue Cheese Puff Pastry

While the puff pastry is cooking, put the blackberries in a saucepan over medium high heat. Cook, stirring often, until the blackberries break down and start to liquify. Using a wooden spoon to smash the blackberries once they begin to soften will help with the process. When the blackberries start turning to nice bubbly sauce, add the sugar and stir well.

Blackberry Sauce

 

The sauce will be thick and will be done in the time it takes to cook the puff pastry. How convenient is that?

Cut the puff pastry into squares and top with blackberry sauce!

Chipotle Beer Braised Short Ribs

Variations:

Any cheese would be fantastic inside of the puff pastry, as well as any other berry sauce. 

Meal Ideas:

I served this along side roasted rutabagas and Brussels sprouts, and chipotle beer braised short ribs as a part of the McNack’s Kitchen First-ever Mystery Basket.

Look at you, Denise! Stepping so far outside of your comfort zone! Rather impressive! Just in case you are still picking the blackberry seeds out of your teeth, you may want to strain the sauce through a wire mesh strainer next time. 😉

 

Oh, and you should watch the video again since you clearly changed the rules even though you are always saying that I’m the one changing the rules! You said you were going to cook the short ribs in the puff pastry and blue cheese not serve next to….just sayin’  ~Melissa

 

My sauce was so thick that it wouldn’t go through the strainer. I did try that. Surprisingly the seeds weren’t an issue. It was all good though. 

 

Oh…and as I’ve explained to you…I must have more of a Southern accent than you do. Either that or I just don’t enunciate my words clearly. Either explanation is possible. When you think I said “in” what I really said was “and”. Most likely it came out as “en”. ~Denise

Explanation or excuse? You be the judge. ~Melissa

 

McNacks Mystery Challenge: Basket Number 1

Braised short ribs with puff pastry and blackberries

Last week we told you about a new concept that will be doing about once a month called “McNacks Mystery Challenge.” If you missed that post, click here for the details, or better yet, just watch this little video for the background and the unveiling of the first basket!

McNacks 1st Mystery Challenge is now complete!!! We had our good friend and loyal supporter, Kayla Taylor, bring over an amazing basket. We really had no idea what to expect, but she came through with a killer basket!

The first mystery challenge included the following five ingredients:

  • Blue cheese from Point Reyes
  • Puff pasty
  • Blackberries
  • Rutabaga
  • Short ribs

Denise felt like she was in good shape until saw the short ribs and heard Melissa going on about how she was so glad we didn’t have to cook these in just 30 minutes and all the amazing things she could do with the short ribs. (Denise has never cooked short ribs…the main ingredient..nice one)!

Melissa was trying to remember what that giant round thing was in the middle of the basket but tried to cover up her lack of knowledge by deflecting it onto Denise (as you will see when you watch the video,  Denise had no problem showcasing her ignorance).

After five short minutes of research (Melissa was done in about 3 and Denise needed 10, but rules are rules), this is what we decided we were going to make:

Denise:

Chipotle Beer Braised Short Ribs with Puff Pastry and Blackberry Sauce and a side of Roasted Rutabaga and Brussels Sprouts

Melissa:

Blackberry and Red Wine Braised Short Rib Pie with Blue Cheese and Roasted Rutabaga Puree. Melissa made a green vegetable too but hated it. She attempted a simple garlic sautéed broccoli rabe (rappini) but it was uber bitter and she hated it. Have to figure out a better way to cook that next time but luckily, it wasn’t part of the basket!!

Stuffed Pork Chops with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Stuffed pork chops

Don’t let the words “Stuffed Pork Chops” scare you into thinking that they are hard to make. This recipe for Stuffed Pork Chops with Blue Cheese and Bacon is super easy. If you already have the bacon cooked, it takes virtually no time to prepare, but looks like you’ve spent hours laboring over such a delicious dish! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 10 min (40 min. if you need to cook the bacon); Cook Time – 20 min. 

Ingredients:

4 thick cut boneless pork chops

4 oz. blue cheese

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (Applewood Smoked is the best, but any will do)

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Preparing Stuffed Pork Chops with Blue Cheese and Bacon:

Preheat oven to 325 Degrees. Spray a baking dish with your favorite cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix together blue cheese and bacon. Set aside. Cut a pocket into each pork chop. You want to leave about 1/4 inch on each side and about a 1/4 inch at the back. Stuff each pork chop with blue cheese mixture.

Stuffed pork chops

Secure with a toothpick, if necessary. Sprinkle the outside of each pork chop with 1/4 tsp. of garlic power and salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that both the blue cheese and bacon are salty.

Stuffed pork chops

Place chops in baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until desired doneness. 

Stuffed pork chops

Spinach Salad with Roasted Garlic and Warm Bacon Dressing

Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing, blue cheese and red onion

Before my husband and I had kids, we would make dinner together on Sunday nights. We would try something new every week and most of the dishes were a little labor intensive since we had the time to spare! Oh those were the days! This Spinach Salad with Roasted Garlic and Warm Bacon Dressing is part of the last meal we actually made together! I found it years ago in Bon Appetite.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep Time – 45 min

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 3 T. olive oil
1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves (about 12 large ones)
4 bacon slices, chopped
1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar
2 T. minced shallots
1 T. dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. light molasses
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon or 3/4 tsp. dried
1 1/2 6 oz. packages ready to use baby spinach leaves
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Preparing Spinach Salad with Roasted Garlic and Warm Bacon Dressing:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine 1/4 cup oil and garlic in a small baking dish. Cover with foil; bake until garlic is very tender, about 45 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic to work surface and finely chop. Transfer garlic to medium bowl. Reserve roasted garlic oil.

Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Pour drippings into medium bowl. Add vinegar, shallot, mustard, honey, molasses and tarragon. Whisk to blend. Add roasted garlic, garlic oil, bacon and remaining 3 T. olive oil and whisk to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Place spinach, sliced onion and blue cheese in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Serve.

Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing, blue cheese and red onion

Blackened Steak Salad

Steak salad with blue cheese and tomatoes

My husband loves steak and I love salad. When I combined both into one dish it was a win-win for everyone. Bon Appetit published this recipe for blackened steak salad from the Chicago Chop House several years ago.

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 10 min; Cook Time – 10 minutes

Ingredients:

SPICE MIXTURE:
1 T. Paprika
2 t. ground black pepper
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. dried oregeno
1/2 t. dried thyme
VINAIGRETTE AND SALAD:
1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 t. dijon mustard
6 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
2 5-6 oz. beef tenderloin (filet mignon) steaks, about 1/2 inch thick
3 T. butter, melted
6 T. crumbled blue cheese (about 3 oz)
1 tomato, quartered

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Good quality skillet
Here’s a good one:

Preparation of Blackened Steak Salad:

For the spice mixture: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. (Can be made up to a week ahead and stored in an airtight container).

For the salad: Whisk oil, vinegar, and mustard in large bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Add greens, bell pepper, and onion and toss to coat. Divide salad to two plates.

For the steaks: Coat both sides of the steaks with the spice mixture. Dip both sides of the steaks into melted butter. Heat a heavy large skillet over high heat until very hot. Add steaks and cook to desired doneness, about 2 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to cutting board and let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting. Thinly slice steak against the grain. Arrange slices atop salad. Sprinkle with blue cheese. Garnish with tomato and serve.

Steak salad with blue cheese and tomatoes

Variations:

In the salad, I omit the green peppers since my husband doesn’t eat them.

Meal Ideas:

Chicago Chop House serves this with roasted red skinned potatoes and sautéed mushrooms on the side. For a salad, serve with a nice warm piece of bread.