Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Pear & Blue Cheese

I’m starting to notice a trend: it seems I like to bake bread on Fridays. It’s true, I’m happiest with yeasty dough in my hands, kneading and shaping loaves. Friday is the beginning of the weekend, a time to relax. It’s a time to slow down and do something fun. Subconsciously I turn to my pantry, eying canisters of flour and dreaming of my next loaf. The stresses of my week melt away as my hands to combine flour, water, and yeast. The mixture sticks to my fingers as I pull it from my trusty stainless steel bowl onto my large wooden board, worn and splitting at the ends. I’m present but my hands are on auto-pilot as the ritual movements take over. Kneading is rhythmic and comforting. The dough morphs from a sticky, wet blob to a silken ball. It’s so soft. I smile and announce to my husband, “I love dough.” He laughs and says, “I know.” I’ve said it a thousand times.

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Storyboard: Blue Cheese

Making Blue Cheese

Blue-veined cheeses are a family that shares the characteristic appearance of blue mold bursting through creamy white or orange flesh. Cheesemakers innoculate cow, sheep, or goat cheese with a strain of bacteria spores (such as Penicillium gorgonzola or Penicillium roqueforti, among others). These spores give rise to an edible blue mold that contributes complexity of flavor to the cheese. The Cheese Lover’s Companion describes the process and I was interested to read that the blue-mold strain is added to the milk or curds, which are scooped into cylindrical molds and allowed to drain naturally, with out pressing. Once the cheese has set it is removed from the mold, rubbed with salt and sent to an aging environment (cave or cellar). The most fascinating part is that the cheese’s interior will not turn blue in color until exposed to air. Cheesemakers use metal skewers to pierce the cheese and allow the bacteria to feed on air, producing the blue veins.

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Cook in the Moment: Blue Cheese Crackers

Each week I contribute an article to “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I’ve baked Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Irish Blue Crackers from How to be a Domestic Goddess. Incorporating blue cheese into a cracker dough is a great way for those who aren’t into the texture/color of blue cheese to enjoy its earthy, pungent flavor. As always, the queen of comfort shows us how to whip up something quick and delicious with just a handful of pantry ingredients (exactly five).These buttery crackers are so good it’s hard to resist plucking them from the baking sheet before they’ve had a chance to cool. If you can wait, I suggest serving the blue cheese crackers with a glass of port and some dried tart cherries. For the full article and recipe, click on the icon below.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Blue Cheese

Blue Cheese On Leaves (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with blue cheese in autumn:

 

1.  Meat & Cheese Pie

Meat pies are hearty sustenance perfect for autumn’s colder temperatures. I came across a recipe for Steak and Stilton Pies in an article on rural English cooking called “Butchers’ Banquet” from the October issue of Saveur. Beef stewed in malty stout beer is combined with mushrooms, English Stilton, and peas under a puff pastry crust. Like the taming of the shrew, comforting and full flavored beef stew take the edge off pungent blue cheese but its boldness can still be tasted.

2.  Gratin

The newly released cookbook, Homemade, is a treasure trove of rustic, flavorful recipes with inspiring food styling and illustrations. The recipe for Fried Salsify and Carrot Au Gratin with Gorgonzola is a rich  dish of roasted sweet root vegetables covered in a gooey, pungent blue cheese sauce. It’s best served alongside lamb or beef roast with plenty of bread for sopping up sauce. And you won’t believe the aroma coming from your oven as the cheese melts and browns- it will drive you mad, in a good way.

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Ingredient of the Week: Blue Cheese

Blue Cheese (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

As Halloween draws near there is a chill in the air. In most parts of the country, farmers markets are wrapping up for the year. The pace of life slows down, if only slightly. Here in Colorado, we’ve already built a fire in the fireplace a couple of times. Our cooking is slower and we seek depth of flavor in food to satisfy our growing appetites. The ingredient of the week is inspired by Halloween- some might call it strange, weird, or even a little scary. Oh, and you eat it alive. This week at la domestique is dedicated to blue cheese.

Best enjoyed in the cooler months of the year, blue cheese can have a bracingly strong flavor accompanied by a freakishly pungent aroma. Eerie blue-green colored veins permeate the creamy flesh. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Most of the time blue cheese is used in fall salads with nuts and bitter greens, or as part of a cheese plate. However, if you’ve written blue cheese off because you’re not into the texture/appearance, you might want to reconsider. This week at la domestique we’ll explore all the ways to cook with blue cheese. Tomorrow is 10 Ways Tuesday and I’ll have plenty of creative ideas for using blue cheese in hearty autumn cooking. Look for inspiring recipes that will change the way you see this fungus filled food. Understand the science behind the cheese in storyboard Thursday. We’ll look at the best flavors and wines to pair with blue cheese. I’m excited to cook in the moment with you here at LaDomestique.com. When it comes to blue cheese, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

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