Blue Cheese is Not the Enemy


The thing I find about blue cheese (a thing I love, and will eat with things or on its own whenever possible) is that people don’t give it a chance.  Because, no doubt, it looks like it’s gone off.  It isn’t blue in the same way as that cheese you lost in the back of your fridge is, though… they put particular bacteria in it, and create this cheese on purpose.  There are mild ones, as well as the really strongly flavoured ones, and the flavour is really nice, if you’d only give it a chance.  I’m not saying that you have to like it… I’m just saying that you can’t assume that something that you don’t like the look of should automatically go on the ‘don’t eat’ list.  Try it.

I am taking a bit long to fully post my Hogswatch recipes and the event itself, but it seems like I don’t have enough time in the day lately.  Gathering all the recipes and pictures together has also been a bit trying, so I’m just going to break things up in to smaller pieces than originally planned.  The salad below is actually something we found in an LCBO Food and Drink magazine – they have some surprisingly good stuff, and this salad was really easy to make, tasty, and looks good.  When we’re serving things just for the family, it really doesn’t matter what the final product looks like, but it is always nice to see something turn out really similarly to what it looks like in the professionally done photos. 

This salad was K’s first time trying blue cheese – she thoroughly enjoyed it.  There isn’t all that much blue cheese in the recipe, but it gives the cheesecakes a nice savoury flavour that really contrasts well with the sweet-tartness of the pomegranates.  Besides – who wouldn’t want the excuse to eat cheesecake before dessert?

Warm Stilton Cheesecakes on Baby Greens with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS:

Stilton Cheesecakes

  • 8 oz (250 g) brick style cream cheese (take this out well in advance, so that it’s already room temperature when you start mixing – that will make things a lot easier)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz (125 g) stilton, crumbled (you could also use another blue cheese, if you can’t get stilton)
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped chives
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) fresh ground pepper

Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 c (75mL) unsweetened pomegranate juice or cranberry juice (our grocery store recently filled an entire cooler-area with POM juice, which is what we use.  It comes in a relatively small container as well, which is nice – you don’t end up with an entire jug full of pomegranate juice leftover, that may or may not be a hit with the household)
  • 2 tbsp (25mL) red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp (5ml) granulated sugar or liquid honey
  • ½ tsp (2mL) dijon mustard
  • ¼ c (50mL0 grapeseed oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad:

  • 12 cups (3L) baby greens
  • Pomegranate seeds (a hint for getting the pomegranate seeds out of the pomegranate – cut it in half, hold a piece over a bowl, cut side down, and whack it with a wooden spoon.  Once you’ve gotten most of the seeds out that are visible, you can cut it smaller, and continue whacking it.  Eventually, though, it does come down to picking tiny seeds out of the pomegranate.  If you’ve got a lot of white bits in with your seeds, fill the bowl with water, and stir a bit – the seeds will sink, the white bits will float.  The seeds that have gone off a bit will also tend to float, remove those as well)
  • Toasted sliced almonds (We use toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, since we’ve got a family member who is allergic to almonds.  Basically, this part is mostly for some crunch in the salad)

Instructions

  1. For stilton cheesecakes, preheat oven to 325 F (160 C)
  2. Line 8 cups of a muffin pan with silicone liners or place a silicone muffin pan on a baking sheet.  (the first time we did this recipe, we just greased the metal muffin tin – it didn’t turn out as pretty as it could have, but it meant we didn’t have to go out and buy silicone liners or a silicone muffin pan.  However, the muffin pan is very useful, and wasn’t too expensive – it can be used for a ton of other recipes, so it’s a good buy)
  3. Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer in a bowl until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until well blended.  Fold in stilton, chives and pepper.  Divide among muffin cups, making 8 cheesecakes. Bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed and slightly soft in the centres.  Let cool in pan on a rack, serve warm (or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days and reheat before serving)
  4. For vinaigrette, whisk together pomegranate juice vinegar, sugar and mustard, gradually whisk in oil until blended.  Season to taste with salt and pepper
  5. To serve, whisk vinaigrette and pour half over greens.  Toss to coat and arrange on salad plates.  Top each with a warm cheesecake and garnish with pomegranate seeds and almonds.  Drizzle with more vinaigrette

Serves 8

We served this as our first course at Hogswatch – it gave people something to dig into while I was still carving the chickens and duck.

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