Exploring the World of Blue/Bleu Cheeses
As one of the strongest cheeses available, the “bleu” cheeses impart a flavor that is both robust enough to accompany red meats and complex and sweet enough to function as a dessert. They've got everything in between covered as well. In this article, we'll explore this often underused cheese and look at how you can build an entire menu around it if you choose to do so. Planning a dinner where each item on the menu is centered around differing creative uses of the same bold flavor can make for an incredibly exciting and cohesive dining experience; something for the palette to savor and something for the mind to contemplate and decipher. With a flavor as bold as bleu cheese, the experience is bound to be a very memorable one as well.
Below you'll find recipes centering around the blue cheeses that fall into a number of categories suitable for menu preparation (appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts), as well as some suggestions for accompanying beverages and the like. Before we begin though, note that not all bleu cheeses are the same. Far from it. Let's take a look at the major types of bleu cheeses, including those that we'll be using in the recipes below.
Most varieties of Gorgonzola are sharp and pungent with a somewhat firm texture and deep veins of greenish mold. It should be used within a few days after you buy it, but Gorgonzola does have the distinction of being one of the only cheeses that can be frozen and saved for later (if proper precautions are taken). The crumbly nature of domestic Gorgonzolas makes them good for use in salads, whereas the creamier and mild nature of imported Italian varieties is more suited to light melting and spreading, for use in entrees and warm appetizers.
One of the most highly prized of all cheeses, Stilton cheese is among the firmest of the bleu cheeses and its relatively mild and subtle flavor offer a refreshing respite from the pungency of other types such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola. Stilton's mild flavor and aroma make it an excellent dessert cheese.
Considered to be one of the finest of all cheeses, this French bleu is made from sheep's milk, preferably harvested in the early hours of morning. It carries the distinction of bearing a protected name, so you can be certain that any cheese you see labelled as “Roquefort” comes from that region and is sure to be a quality product. Roquefort's powerful, pungent flavors are excellent for infusing soups or producing a strong finish as a dessert cheese.
A very mild German bleu cheese with a creamy, crumbly texture. Its unassuming but pleasing aroma and flavor make it suitable for idle snacking as well as use in salads.
Saga Blue Cheese
A Danish blue cheese that's spreadable due to it's soft and creamy texture. It lacks extreme pungency, yet the flavor is rich enough to work as a mild dessert cheese.
Bleu Cheese Fondue
- Bleu cheese (Gorgonzola or Roquefort is recommended.)
- 3 oz. Cream cheese
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- White wine
1. Using very low heat, melt the bleu cheese and cream cheese in a mixture of milk and butter, stirring until it produces a heavy, thick cream. White wine can be added until you're satisfied with the taste and consistency.
2. Serve in a bowl garnished with a light grating of firm Gorgonzola on top. Toasted bread or a baguette work nicely as a medium to enjoy this simple but flavorful dish.
Bleu Cheese Mousse Canape
- 6 oz. Bleu cheese (Roquefort)
- 3 oz. Cream cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 slices of white bread
- 4 thin slices of cooked ham
- Chives (optional)
1. In a food processor, blend the bleu cheese until it develops a smooth texture. Add the cream cheese and continue processing until it's fully incorporated.
2. In a stainless steel bowl, whip your heavy cream until it's light and fluffy with soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the bleu cheese mixture until it's incorporated and set aside.
3. Toast the slices of bread and then lay a slice of ham on each. Cut off the crusts and then cut each piece into four equal squares.
4. Fill a pastry bag with your mousse and then pipe onto the bread and ham for a crispy and filling appetizer. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.
Creamy Bleu Cheese Potato Chowder
- 2 oz. Bleu Cheese (Roquefort or Danish Blue)
- 2 large sized potatoes
- 3 Tablespoons milk
- ½ cup cream cheese or yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Eggs
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Handful of kale
- 1 onion
- 3 cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper
- Red pepper flakes
1. Dice the onion, garlic and potato to a fine consistency and brown in a pan with butter until the potato is no longer crunchy.
2. Add the milk, chicken broth, and two eggs. Simmer for roughly ten minutes and then add the cream cheese or yogurt (your preference) for a creamier, thicker texture. Add the kale and pepper flakes, then continue cooking on a low heat until all vegetables are tender. Add bleu cheese, stir lightly to infuse the flavor and then salt and pepper to taste.
Virtually any kind of vegetable could be added to this soup for greater substance. Just use your own judgment and be creative!
Blue Cheese Salad
- 3 oz. Bleu Cheese (Bavarian Bleu)
- Six leaves of lettuce
- 1 chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 eggs
1. Season and boil chicken breast until done, then shred and set in the refrigerator to chill.
2. Hard-boil the eggs and then place to the side for later use.
3. Chop the lettuce and celery into small pieces and mix with the shredded chicken and vinegar in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Cut the boiled eggs into slices and use as garnish along with the olives before topping with crumbled bleu cheese to finish. Serve cold.
Bleu Cheese Stuffed Chicken
- 2 whole boneless chicken breasts, split
- ½ cup crumbled bleu cheese (We recommend Roquefort or a more pungent Gorgonzola for this.)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- Black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. In a bowl, blend 1 tablespoon butter and bleu cheese until soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper, or any other herbs you might find suitable.
2. Fill the chicken breasts with the bleu cheese mixture and then palpate the breast to ensure an even distribution.
3. Using a few toothpicks to hold the breasts closed, place them on a grill over medium heat. Cover and cook for five minutes.
4. As they cook, melt the other tablespoon of butter and add the lemon juice to it. Turn the chicken and brush it with the mixture before grilling another 5 minutes or until done.
5. Serve with a starchy side like mashed potatoes or with an appropriate vegetable medley.
Pasta Gorgonzola with Steak
- 8 oz. Sirlion steak
- 2 sliced onions
- 12 oz. Your favorite pasta
- 3 oz. Bleu cheese (Gorgonzola is highly recommended for this recipe.)
- 1 ½ cup milk
- Salt and pepper to season
1. Pan fry the steak with olive oil until medium-rare, then remove it from the heat, and cut into bite-sized strips.
2. In the same pan, caramelize the onions before adding salt and pepper. Stir in milk and then bring to a boil while constantly stirring to prevent burning. Simmer the sauce until it reduces to a pleasant thickness.
3. Spoon the sauce and Gorgonzola over tender pasta and top with the Sirloin strips in an appealing visual array.
Blue Cheese Tart:
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 4 oz. Bleu cheese (Stilton is recommended for a lighter flavor. Substitute Gorgonzola or Roquefort for greater pungency as to your taste.)
- 6 oz. Cream cheese, softened
- Fresh chives
1. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan (a springform pan will work if you have one) with an even coating of the sliced almonds. A bit of honey mixed in will ensure the formation of a cohesive “crust” that'll form the top of our tart.
2. Combine the bleu cheese, eggs, and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth, then pour into the pan on top of the layer of almonds.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the filling is firm and no longer runny. Cool for one hour, and then flip the pan over, slowly separating it from the tart. The end result should be a nicely squared up and firm cheesecake-style tart with a top crust of flavorful, thinly sliced almonds. Refrigerate for at least two hours and then serve by cutting into wedges and garnishing with a sprinkling of chives.
Blue cheese platter
Blue Cheese Platter:
For a simple yet effective dessert, create a platter spread with a selection of bleu cheeses, beginning with Stilton as the most mild, moving to Gorgonzola and then Roquefort as the most pungent. Accompany the cheeses with a suitable selection of fruits such as apple and pear slices as well as some walnuts and almonds. A few water crackers or toasted breads are useful for cleansing the palette and sampling the creamier Gorgonzola. Include a dab of natural honey to accent the Stilton if you want to try something different.
Wines to Go With Blue Cheese
As for beverage accompaniment, the milder bleu cheeses like Stilton benefit from sweet dessert wines like port, whereas the more pungent Roquefort and Gorgonzola will benefit from a heavier red like Pinot Noir or a nice but not overpowering Cabernet Sauvignon.
When serving a multi-course meal, there's always the risk of becoming repetitious and boring. Bleu cheeses, however, offer such a wide range of textures like creamy Stilton and hard grated Gorgonzola, and flavors ranging from the mild Bavarian and Danish Blues to the heavily pungent Roquefort, that the spectrum of flavors you'll be able to produce should dazzle any diner and leave them wanting more.
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Tammy on March 14, 2011:
I have been trying to find more info on Stagnola Blu. Bought some at Trader Joe's. It made the best blue cheese dressing I have ever made. Very addictive.
shell on October 02, 2009:
going to make a roquefort and pear soufle tonight!
nlhouser from Central Nebraska on September 22, 2008:
This is my favorite dressing and dip. I used to make it for my mom who loved it on crackers and on her salads.
Bob Ewing from New Brunswick on September 12, 2008:
Okay, off to the cheese shop tomorrow, I have to get some blue cheese, good information here.
Julie-Ann Amos (author) from Gloucestershire, UK on September 12, 2008:
Never heard of it! Want me to add it? If so just send me some info! Or post it in comments...
Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on September 12, 2008:
Ah you missed my favourite and the cheapest too: New Zealand's Blue Vein cheee - Mainland makes it. Also avaiable in Australia I don't know about elsewhere its sold in wedges in foil: its not usually seen as a premium cheese but its excellent cheese;strong, crumbly- closest its probably closest to Golgonzola in flavour