Bleu is not Blah
Blue Cheeses and the Blue Cheese dressing
This is a classic blue cheese dressing I make all the time because it is easy and delicious.Literally blitz the ingredients in a mixer and you are done. Blue cheese dressing is an American creation. Litehouse, an American company claims to be the first to have bottled and sold this dressing 60 years ago.
I have as yet to find the original source for the blue cheese dressing recipe. Some say it was Fannie Merritt May in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook first published in 1896. I looked up my 1905 copy and found 2 recipes with Roquefort but they are not blue cheese dressing.
Many folks think of blue cheese as a 'stinky' cheese because it is treated with a mold called Penicullum, which gives it the characteristic blue and white veining and the sharp taste. But not all blue cheese are malodorous. Infact many of the best known blue cheeses such as Danish Blu and Gorgonzola are mild. And there are many Bries, Gruyere and other cheeses for instance the Époisses de Bourgogne and the Ouleout that are far more pungent than most blue cheese I've ever had.
Cheeses with washed rinds that have been treated with alcohol, water, ash even and aged for long periods allow for yeast to grow and can make the product very strong smelling. Often the smell comes from the rind of the cheese, while the edible part inside remains delicately flavored.
So the poor blue cheese gets a bad reputation it doesn't deserve among those who don't like bold flavours.
Blue cheese has Umami and used correctly can really lift the flavour of a dish. So even if you don't enjoy eating it as a cheese, consider it in dishes like pastas, salads, fondues. Don't dismiss it- you could be missing out on something wonderful.
The smelly factor and the price can really vary depending on the kind of blue cheese you use. Blue cheese is made with many different kinds of milk- pasteurised and unpasteurized, (sheep, cow, goat) and can be firm like the Norwegian Gamalost or the English Dorset Vinney, semi-hard like Picón Bejes-Tresviso, semi soft like Danish blue and soft like Oxford Blue and Dovedale.
For this dressing you need a semi soft crumbly cheese, preferably one without a rind like the American made Maytag blu (a personal favourite for eating and cooking) Gorgonzola or Danish Blue are good choices. If you are doing a pasta with blue cheese or a fondue you could consider an even softer cheese like the Bavarian Cambozola that will melt easily into the sauce. For a cheese plate you can pair slightly harder blue cheese like Stilton with pears, apples, quince and honey.
Gorgonzola, considered the oldest of blue cheeses dating back to the 9th century A.D. is Italian and made from cows or goats milk, sometimes both and Roquefort- the King of French cheese is made from ewe's milk. Roquefort is a sharp cheese, Gorgonzola is less so. An aged St Agur or the Spanish Cabrales can be even sharper.
Blue cheeses are produced by many different countries though Roquefort was the first cheese in France in 1925 to receive the Appellation D'Origin, which means it can only be called Roquefort if it is aged in specific caves, the milk comes from a specific breed, even the Pencillum mold known as Roqueforti must come from the caves of the Roquefort sur Soulzon.
For a blue cheese dressing to work it must have just enough blue cheese in it to give it a kick. So depending on the strength of the cheese you use add more or less to your taste. Traditionally blue cheese dressing, an American creation is a thick and creamy dressing.
If you want a lower fat version of this I have a blue cheese vinaigrette recipe in my cookbook #anindiansenseofsalad available in bookshops and online.
Blue cheese dressing is also delicious with buffalo chicken, bacon, apples, pears, honey, quince, chocolate, port, ales, pecans and spinach.
The recipe of the dressing is below. You can find the recipe for the pear and walnut salad here
If you can't find butter lettuce use romaine or iceberg.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING AS BLUE CHEESE
If you want a milder, less sharp sweeter blue, look for a young and preferably without rind blue cheese- though there are always exceptions.
When you first open a blue cheese you get a sharp whiff of ammonia. This can be off-putting but wait 5 minutes, let the cheese breathe and slowly its complex and nutty aromas will emerge.
Blue cheese doesn't freeze well and should be consumed in 7-8 days. If your cheese smells of acetone or is sticky and pink, jettison it tout de suite.
Another great recipe for an entree with blue cheese http://www.taradeshpande.in/pasta-with-gorgo…pears-and-chives/
I'll be posting lots of fun facts about blue cheese on twitter @Tara_Deshpande
Many famous American blue cheeses were actually created in University labs like Maytag in 1941 in Iowa and Clemson blue by the College of South Carolina.
Before Wang discovered penicillin cheese was used in medieval Europe to control gangrene.
FOR 2.5 CUPS OF DRESSING
1 CUP STRAINED YOGURT OR USE GREEK YOGURT (NOT SOUR)
1 CUP BLUE CHEESE SUCH AS MAYTAG BLU OR ROQUEFORT OR A SEMI SOFT ONE OF YOUR CHOICE (RIND REMOVED IF APPLICABLE)
3/4 CUP PLAIN BUTTER MILK
1/2 CUP MAYONNAISE (WITH OR WITHOUT EGG)
3 CLOVES GARLIC
1/2 TEAPSOON GRANULATED OR CASTOR SUGAR
1/2 TEAPSOON GROUND WHITE PEPPER
2 TEAPSOONS LEMON OR LIME JUICE
KITCHEN SALT TO TASTE
4 TEASPOONS FINELY CHOPPED SHALLOTS OR WHITE ONION
2 TEASPOONS SHERRY WINE VINEGAR OR USE RED WINE VINEGAR
1/2 CUP SEMI SOFT BLUE CHEESE CRUMBLED
COMBINE THE ONIONS AND WHITE VINEGAR AND LET SIT 30 MINUTES IN THE FRIDGE.
BLEND ALL THE INGREDIENTS FOR THE DRESSING IN FOOD PROCESSOR.
MANUALLY STIR IN THE CRUMBLED BLUE CHEESE AND ONIONS WITH A WHISK OR FORK. ADD SALT TO TASTE. ADJUST FOR SUGAR AND VINEGAR.
KEEP COVERED AND REFRIGERATED FOR UPTO 48 HOURS.