Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cooking with blue cheese

This week we bought some taleggio, some grass fed verdant blue, and some other cheeses. It was a challenge for me to cook with the blue cheese, because it is very pungent and a little goes a long way. But here are some dishes I made. I hope to help somebody else looking for ways to cook with strong cheeses.

I prepared a great salad by mixing torn butter lettuce, thinly sliced peaches, roasted pecans, and crumbled grass fed verdant blue cheese. The dressing is white balsamic vinegar-based, which adds sweet notes to the whole invention. Blue cheese is nicely paired with the peaches, which are ripe and delicate!

Butter lettuce, blue cheese, peaches, pecans, and balsamic salad
I served the salad with my homemade sweet challah bread. The sweetness of the bread helped us to eat more cheese, which is always a good idea :)

I know, cookies don't have cheese in them, but I needed something for snack. So, I baked these chocolate chip, pecan, and oatmeal cookies. Because of the fiber in the oatmeal and the antioxidants in the chocolate, I consider them a healthy option for an afternoon pick me up.

Chocolate chip, pecan, and oatmeal cookies
Another refreshing dessert I made this week is Vanilla Creme with Fresh Strawberry Jam. The vanilla creme tastes like panna cotta, but it is actually made from whole milk, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and unflavored gelatin. It is easy to prepare. And the best part is, you can use your leftover strawberries to make a delicious topping for the creme. Just cook some berries with water and sugar!

Vanilla Creme with Fresh Strawberry Jam

To serve the Vanilla Cream, I used a martini glass. It looks so elegant, doesn't it? Also, I used some fresh rosemary from my garden instead of flowers. That way, I get to use my new vase from Pottery Barn :) 

Vanilla Creme served in a martini glass

If you have some leftover goat and feta cheeses, you can make this stuffed muffins. They have a mixture of both cheeses inside and are great with black lentils soup. To make the soup, I sauteed a whole bunch of leeks, shallots, carrots, and garlic. Then, I added tomato paste, water, beluga lentils, and salt. I simmered the soup for 40 minutes and then I added a splash of balsamic vinegar. I have to tell you, it is very satisfying soup!

Beluga Lentils soup with leeks, carrots, shallots, and garlic
Continuing with my blue cheese, I stuffed pork chops with it and then served them with roasted brussel sprouts, and sauteed pears. This is a fall meal, but it is a great way to use the blue cheese. The best combination is to pair the pear with the cheese, it is yummy!

Pork chop stuffed with blue cheese, served with pears and sprouts

Here I served the same soup, but this time with my Parmesan muffins. I also decided to use my sushi plates to change the pace a little bit! I think they look pretty and elevate the dish a lot...

Black lentils soup with Parmesan muffin
Yes, of course I made pizza again. This time, it has taleggio, blue cheese, grilled chicken, and slices of ripe pear. After I baked it, the pears became so soft, almost like a jam. It was so delicious and different than other pizzas I've made before.

Pear, taleggio, blue cheese, and chicken pizza
I baked some pecan-brownies for afternoon snack and I used my Strawberry Jam from the Vanilla Creme to create a nice pool. I also dropped some chocolate into the berry-pool and this was the perfect adddition to the sweet brownies!

Chocolate-pecan brownies with fresh strawberry jam

This was my favorite dinner: I prepared some polenta rectangles and them baked them. After that, I topped them with a mixture of dried cranberries, blue cheese, and toasted pecans. On the side, I served sauteed pink Florida shrimps with herbs de Provence. I drizzled some balsamic vinegar reduction and the result was amazing. Super soft polenta, super balanced topping, and super flavorful shrimps!!!

Polenta triangles with cranberries, pecans, blue cheese, and shrimps
And I got emotional with the polenta, so the next day, I cut it into rectangles, I used the same topping, but instead of the shrimps, I used nice swai fillets. Those are inexpensive, but full with flavor, especially if sprinkled with fresh herbs. Try to do it at home and tell me what you think!

Polenta rectangles with cranberries, blue cheese, pecans, and swai fillets

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