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Blue cheese platter and pairings

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SKILL LEVEL :
Easy and quick

Blue cheese platter

Blue cheese is one of my favorite cheeses. There is an incredible variety within the category from sharp, hard and crumbly to mellow, creamy and salty. Blue cheese can be an acquired taste, so if you don't like it at first, don't give up. There is a blue cheese out there for you! I am slightly allergic to the mold in blue cheese, but will happily sacrifice a scratchy throat to indulge in this treat.

My favorite blue cheeses

Cabrales

A strong and spicy blue cheese from Northern Spain that is made from unpasteurized cow's milk, but can also be blended with sheep and goat's milk.

Cambozola

A mild, creamy cow's milk cheese that combines the flavor of a blue cheese with a camembert-like texture. It is sometimes referred to as "blue brie" and is a good starter for those just learning about blue cheese.

Gorgonzola

A creamy, buttery, salty blue cheese from Northern Italy that dates back to 879 AD. There are two types, dolce (sweet) and piccante (hot).

Roaring 40's

An Australian blue that is produced on King Island, in the 40 degree longitude, renowned for its roaring winds. This creamy and slightly sweet cheese is made from grass fed cow's milk.

Saga blue

A mild, triple-cream Danish cheese that like cambozola, is a good starter blue cheese.

Stilton

Known as "The King of Cheese" or "English parmesan," this excellent cow's milk cheese has been made in the town of Stilton since the 1800's. Smooth, creamy and delicious, it also freezes well.

Valdeon

A bold and spicy cave-aged Spanish blue that has been made for hundred's of years in the town of Valdeon. It is wrapped in sycamore or oak leaves.

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How to make a cheese tray

Blue cheese is a nice addition to a mixed cheese platter, particularly if you are serving 4-5 cheeses, it is nice to have one blue cheese. If you are creating a single mixed blue cheese platter pick a variety, in terms of hardness, creaminess, type of milk and country of origin.

Cheese plate pairings

Blue cheese is one of the best cheese with fruit. Blue cheese pairs beautifully with honey, dried fruit, apple or pear slices, figs and walnuts. For something special try serving blue cheese with my Cranberry and dried cherry sauce. Serve with champagne and other sparkling wines, big reds, port, sherry, ice wines or other dessert wines.

Portions

It depends on how many you are serving. In general, you don't need much. If I am serving a large number of people, say 40 or more, I buy cheese in half to one pound portions. If you are serving a single cheese platter, with various types of cheese, quarter pound portions, or even 2-ounces portions will do, depending on how many you are serving. In general you are looking to taste the cheese and not make a meal out of it.

Blue cheese platter and pairings

Prep

Total

My favorite blue cheeses and food and wine pairings.

Ingredients

  • 3 blue cheeses
  • 3 cups walnut halves
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • Raw honey or honey comb
  • Fig preserves
  • Apples, pears or fig slices
  • Dried cherries
  • Sliced baguette

Instructions

  1. Set your cheeses out three hours before serving.
  2. In a skillet toast walnuts over medium heat for a couple minutes. Sprinkle half the sugar over the walnuts and stir until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle salt and sugar over sugared nuts and stir to combine. Turn on your fan as the pepper will smoke. Sprinkle over remaining sugar and stir until sugar crystals dissolve and caramelize. Spread glazed walnut halves on a sheet of tinfoil, separating each nut so they don't clump together. Let cool. You can make these nuts up to a week ahead of time.
  3. Arrange the three cheeses on a platter with small bowls of honey and fig preserves. Spread nuts, fruit slices and dried cherries in between cheeses. Serve with baguette slices.

 

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