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Cooking with blue cheese

38King of cheeses is a title that may well go with blue cheese. Rich in flavour and with a creamy texture, it has a salty pungency and just a small piece of it can give out a powerful aroma! There are several culinary possibilities with blue cheese and a chocolatier from London has even come up with a recipe for stilton with truffles. While the cheeses can be had on their own, simply sliced or spread on crusty bread, they can lend themselves to several recipes. For instance, blue cheese makes for a delicious dressing and sauce and it can be paired with dates and figs, for parties.

There are various types of blue cheese, roquefort and stilton, the oldest blue cheese in existence, being among the most popular. You also have the Danish danablu and the gorgonzola from France, the cabrales, picon and gamonedo from Spain as well as benedictine bleu from Canada.

Roquefort is healthy
It has been reported that roquefort may be beneficial to your heart as it has ‘anti-inflammatory properties’ that prevent cardiovascular problems. The cheese is aged in caves in the South of France and it is this process that allows for the ripening, which is said to promote a healthy gut, slow down ageing as well as arthritis, says research. It is also being debated as to whether eating these fermented cheeses can be the reason why France has the lowest rate of cardiovascular mortality.

What makes it blue
The ‘blue’ in blue cheese is Pencillium roqueforti, a fungus that feeds plus breeds on the curds. And, it is this Penicillium roqueforti that gives blue cheeses their veins. The mould is added to the milk at the start of the cheesemaking process and the cheeses are then pierced with long needles as to make tunnels for the air to enter in them, as they mature. The mould breaks down the proteins and fats which are in the cheese and it’s said the longer the cheese ages, more intense the flavour and smoother the texture. It takes upto eight months to ripen.

Buying and storing
The best way to store the cheese is to use the same wrapping it is bought in. You may also use a foil to wrap it and then store it in the refrigerator. It must always be served at room temperature so place it outside, half an hour before serving.

Blue cheese and chocolate?
That’s a new flavour; it may not seem ideal but it’s getting to be popular! Blue cheese truffles are being hailed as the perfect chocolate and chocolatiers abroad are using the melange of the pungent taste with good old chocolate. The cheese, smoked over hazelnut and milk and is mixed with raisins and roasted almonds. Blue cheese also intensifies the taste of dark chocolate.

Few culinary possibilities
If all you can think of is crumbling blue cheese over a salad, here’s more ‘food’ for thought. Try these other ideas…

Soups: Blend a little creamy cheese when making a cream of tomato or leek soup. Stilton goes well with broccoli and potato soups too.

Sandwiches: Blue cheese can be added to any kind of sandwich to make for an apt workday lunch. Have it simple with bread and herbed butter or cut some up and place it in a beef or chicken sandwich.

Pastas and lasagnas: It can enhance the flavour of pastas and other Italian fare. Just toss in the cheese after making a tomato pureed pasta or add blue cheese to garlic and olive oil and add this to cooked spaghetti. Then add in the other main ingredients.

Steaks: A well-done steak can do well with drizzling blue cheese and honey over it. The sharp, creamy taste merges with the flavour of meat for a delicious bite.

Dips: Blue cheese can be a refreshing alternative to the salsa and mayo dips one normally serves at a party. Combine the cheese with sour cream and chives and serve with crudites and potato wedges.

Party menu ideas

Blue cheese and walnut whip
Blue cheese with grapes
Cheery tomato, blue cheese and fig salad
Pears with blue cheese
Blue cheese risotto with spring onion
Focaccia with caramelised onions, sun-dried tomatoes and blue cheese
Shrimp rigate and blue cheese
Grilled chicken breasts with blue cheese
Broccoli soup with blue cheese and bruschetta