Updated date:

Exploring Blue Cheese: Myths, Truths, and Fabulous Recipes

Author:

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Blue cheese

Blue cheese

In just a few weeks we will be enjoying Super Bowl Sunday; many of us will be immersed in the game, some will watch for the half-time show or the advertisements, but all of us will enjoy the food! One of the most popular treats of the past few years has become Buffalo wings with blue cheese dressing. In my opinion, you can keep the wings; I’ll just dive into the bowl of blue cheese.

I don’t know if the advent of this brew pub treat had an impact on the popularity of blue cheese, but it was certainly my introduction to the funky fromage. Until then I had assumed that blue (or bleu) cheese was only favored by those who dined on fancy French cuisine.

Danish blue

Danish blue

A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be over sophisticated. Yet it remains; cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality.

— Clifton Fadiman an American writer, editor and New Yorker book reviewer

Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola

Are the French Responsible?

The true origin of blue cheese has generated much folklore, speculation, and controversy.

The Italian claims that Gorgonzola is one of the world's oldest blue-veined cheeses, originating around 847 A.D. from a town of the same name just east of Milan in the northern region of Lombardy. Lombardy, on the alpine border with Switzerland, is in the northern-most part of Italy. It is Italy's leading agricultural area and the Alps provide excellent grazing for cows.

It is said that centuries ago, a young man in Italy, a cheese apprentice, was distracted by love, and left his cheese curds unattended overnight. To hide his oversight, the next morning he mixed them with fresh curds, but a few weeks later he noticed that the batch was turning blue. The mistake could no longer be hidden, but it proved to be a happy accident, and Gorgonzola was born….or something like that.

Oddly enough, the French have a similar story for the creation of Roquefort.

Blue Cheese 101— How is It Made?

  • Milk is acidified, a process which separate the milk into solids (curds) and liquid (whey).
  • As with most cheese manufacture, the curds are then drained, salted, shaped and ripened (allowed to age).
  • The blue veining comes from the introduction of a specific bacterium (Penicillium Roqueforti or Penicillium Glaucum.) When the bacteria is introduces dictates the type of cheese which results.
  • There is another process which is also unique to blue cheeses—the wheels of cheese are poked or “needled” to create multiple tiny openings. These openings will allow air to penetrate; it is the air that feeds the bacteria and allows it to thrive.
  • The type of milk used (cow, sheep, goat, or a combination) and what the animals were eating prior to being milked also affect the type of cheese produced.
Roquefort

Roquefort

So Many Choices!

There are so many blue cheeses available—it gets confusing! Here is a simple table that might help you decide which one to purchase.

NameOriginCharacteristicsBest Used In

Bavarian Blue

Germany

Mild and creamy

salad dressing

Blue Castello

Denmark

This is a double-cream blue, soft, spreadable, and incredibly rich. It is one of the milder blues, so is a good choice for those new to blue cheese.

cheese board

Cabrales

Spain

Dense, crumbly, and quite strong in flavor. Not for the faint of heart.

salad dressing; melting or serving with beef

Cambozola

Germany

Creamy and rich like camembert but with the spicy kick of Gorgonzola

cheese board

Cashel Bleu

Ireland

Not creamy, but not dry-crumbly – it sits somewhere in-between

salad (crumble on top)

Danish Blue

Denmark

Rich and creamy

pasta

Fourme d’Ambert

France

Moist and mild

cheese board

Gorgonzola

Northern Italy

There are two types of Gorgonzola-- Gorgonzola Piccante (also called Gorgonzola Naturale) is aged, sharp and pungent. Gorgonzola Dulce is milder in flavor. Gorgonzola is crumbly but spreadable.

Salad dressing, snacking, melting or serving with beef, pasta, dessert

Maytag Blue

United States

Sharp and crumbly

pasta

Roquefort

France

Of all blue cheeses, this one is perhaps the most salty in flavor. It is crumbly and melts on the tongue. To be named “Roquefort” the cheese must be aged in specific caves in the south of France

salad dressing, pasta, dessert

Shropshire Blue

Great Britain

Crumbly, medium-sharp; very similar to Stilton cheese. Dyed yellow

salad dressing, snacking, dessert

Stilton

Great Britain

One of the best British cheeses, true Stilton can only be manufactured in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire counties. Firm and mild in flavor

salad dressing, snacking, dessert

Stilton

Stilton

Recipes and Inspiration

I promised recipes and honestly, there are so many different ways that blue cheeses can be used, this article would be voluminous were I to attempt to cover then all. I will give you a few recipes, but then I will also provide some suggestions and allow you to use your imagination.

creamy blue cheese dip

creamy blue cheese dip

Creamy Blue Cheese Dip

This is the stuff you dip, spoon (or desire to bathe in) when you eat Buffalo wings:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (see note below)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup crumbled Danish blue or Stilton

Instructions

  1. If you like a chunky dressing, combine all ingredients except the cheese in a bowl and stir to blend. Fold in the crumbled blue cheese.
  2. If you prefer a smooth dressing, process everything in a blender or food processor. If the mixture seems too thick add a few more teaspoons of milk.

NOTE: If you don't have buttermilk, don't worry. Place 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill to the 1/2 cup mark with regular milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes.

Buffalo Chicken Nachoes

This one is entirely too easy—there is no real recipe and hardly any measuring. Use as little or as much as you want of each ingredient, pile onto a microwave-safe plate, zap, and enjoy or bake in a 400 degrees F. oven until cheese is melted (about 3 to 5 minutes)

  • tortilla chips
  • shredded Cheddar cheese
  • shredded rotisserie chicken (about 2 cups. You can guess on this)
  • Buffalo hot sauce (I like Frank's, about 1/2 cup)
  • diced tomatoes
  • blue cheese (use any type you want)
  • garnish with sour cream drizzle
  1. Place the tortilla chips on the microwave-safe plate (or pizza pan if baking in the oven)
  2. Layer on some shredded cheese
  3. Toss the chicken with the hot sauce. Place the chicken on top of the cheese
  4. Add more shredded cheese, the diced tomatoes, and the blue cheese
Blue cheese and Asian pear crostini

Blue cheese and Asian pear crostini

Camille Styles is a beautiful blog focusing on fun ideas for home, fashion, health and fitness, and fresh recipes. Her crostini recipe is a contrast of tastes and textures -- creamy salty cambozola pops against the sweet crispness of the Asian pear and the buttery, crunchy rustic bread. Use this recipe when you want something which seems indulgent and luxurious, but is one of the easiest foods you'll ever put together. Trust me—macaroni and cheese from a box will take longer than this.

exploring-blue-cheese-myths-truths-and-fabulous-recipes

Carb Diva's Creamy Triple Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup sundried tomatoes, (not oil packed)
  • 1/2 of a 6-oz. can tomato paste (no salt added)
  • 1 14-oz. can chick broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • Bavarian (or blue of your choice)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Strain canned tomatoes, reserving juices. Spread canned tomatoes on large baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast in oven about until caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté onion, celery, and garlic in large saucepan until softened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the roasted canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, sun-dried tomatoes, broth, sage, and bay leaf. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove bay leaf. Puree soup in pot with immersion blender until smooth. Stir in chopped parsley and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  6. Garnish with crumbled cheese.
exploring-blue-cheese-myths-truths-and-fabulous-recipes

Apple, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Salad

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 1 small-sized tart-crisp apple, cored and sliced thinly (Granny Smith is an excellent choice for this)
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • ½ cup glazed pecans
  • ½ cup crumbled Roquefort

Ingredients for the Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry-flavored vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions

Toss all salad ingredients together in large bowl. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Do not add the dressing until you are ready to serve the salad.


Variations

  • use baby kale, minced finely, in place of the spinach
  • omit the apple and substitute Bosc pear
  • add 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • add 6 slices of crisp, crumbled bacon
  • replace the apple with 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • add diced cooked chicken to make it a main dish salad
  • toasted walnuts can be used in place of the candied pecans
  • use any type of blue cheese--Cabrales, Maytag, and Roquefort are the sharpest

Filet Mignon With Melted Blue Cheese Sauce

Erica, Echo, Elise, and Emily are busy sisters with families, love, and a whole lot of talent when it comes to creating amazing meals. This filet mignon is as good (if not better) than anything you will get in a restaurant.

Fancy Schmancy Hamburgers

If you have any blue cheese sauce left over from the above recipe, put it on top of your favorite hamburger. You won't be disappointed. I promise! All those umami flavors will put a big smile on your face. Here's how I load up my burger:

  • seasoned ground beef patty
  • toasted burger bun
  • thinly-sliced tomato
  • sliced mushrooms, briefly saute in butter
  • smokey bacon slices, cooked crisp
  • smear of mayonnaise on bottom bun
  • melted blue cheese sauce from Filet Mignon recipe (above)
gnocchi ready for the oven

gnocchi ready for the oven

Carb Diva's Easy Potato Gnocchi With Gorgonzola

Ingredients for Potato Gnocchi

  • 1 1/3 cups instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 1/3 cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Place the mashed potato flakes in a large mixing bowl and cover with the boiling water. Stir just to moisten and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the salt and 2 eggs and beat on low speed with a mixer until smooth. Add the flour and beat just until the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Don't overmix—this makes the gnocchi tough.
  3. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each one, one at a time, on a clean work surface* into a rope about the thickness of your thumb. Using a sharp knife cut 1/2-inch thick slices from the rope of dough. ( *I roll my gnocchi out on a large piece of parchment paper)
  5. Next, roll each piece against the tines of a fork—this creates the characteristic grooves that help the sauce cling to gnocchi. To cook them, drop your gnocchi into simmering (not boiling) water--no more than about 20 at a time. They are done when they bob to the surface.
  6. Remove the gnocchi with a skimmer and place on a clean towel.

A New Approach

Since writing this hub I have discovered a new method of forming gnocchi. It's much faster than the pat, roll, and cut method described above.

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat.
  • Lightly spray the inside of a pastry bag with non-stick cooking spray (such as Pam). Do NOT place a decorating tip in the pastry bag—use just the bag and coupler.
  • Spoon your potato gnocchi "dough" into the pastry bag.
  • With one hand gently squeeze the bag to gradually force the potato dough to the tip of the bag. With your other hand cut off the dough with a sharp knife. Continue to squeeze and cut, allowing the dough to drop into your pot of water.
  • Using this method you can form and cook your gnocchi very quickly and without added flour.

Ingredients for the Gorgonzola Sauce

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
  • bread crumbs (for garnish)
  • good-quality olive oil
  • fresh basil, minced (optional)

Bring cream to a simmer over medium-low heat in large saute pan. Add cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until Gorgonzola is melted. Add cooked gnocchi to the pan and toss to coat.

Place gnocchi in oven-safe dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top; drizzle with olive oil and top with basil. Broil 5 inches from heat until bubbly and crumbs are browned. Watch carefully so that the crumbs don't burn!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts, rinsed, bottom end trimmed off and cut in half from top to bottom
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine sprouts and oil in large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  3. Spread out in single layer on rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes, stirring twice until sprouts are tender and edges are turning golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and turn into serving dish. Garnish with blue cheese and walnuts.

Green Beans with Bacon and Blue Cheese

  • One 12-ounce package frozen green beans
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese of your choice

Prepare green beans according to package directions. Drain, place in serving dish, and garnish with bacon and blue cheese.

Do You Want More?

So there you have it—recipes and ideas for soups, salads, appetizers, pasta, meats, and vegetables.

What about dessert? Well, I had planned on writing about dessert as well, but this article is already at over 2,300 words. If you would like some dessert ideas, let me know in the comments section. I'd be happy to do that in a separate article.

© 2017 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 29, 2018:

Peggy, some of my dearest friends are from or live now in Wisconsin. Trust me, once you try homemade tomato soup you will never go back to the stuff in a can.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 29, 2018:

Your recipes sound so delicious! I will definitely be trying some of them starting with the creamy triple tomato soup. I grew up as a child in Wisconsin...the Dairy State. We love all kinds of cheeses including blue cheese.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 29, 2018:

Patty, thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hope you can find the time to visit some of my other articles on cheese.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 29, 2018:

I love this article! -- It took me many years, but I do like Blue Cheese now and will use your recipes.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 29, 2018:

Eric, yes it really is that easy. Makes me wonder why I don't make it more often. Yes, cheese is actually good for our teeth--I think it has something to do with changing the pH so that bacteria do not thrive, but don't quote me on that.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 29, 2018:

gnocchi is really that easy? Yahoo!

I hope they don't lay flowers on my grave but rather cheese. Hopefully one of your recipes.

I got curious from what I had heard and so looked it up on some papers of the NIH. Cheese is very good for oral health. Which means the whole body.

I just love this article

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 06, 2017:

Flourish - I think blue cheese is the best cheese in the world--I could eat it every day. You are lucky that your dad does the wings and sauces. My dad was a pretty good cook but I never got a chance to work with him in the kitchen. I am glad that you enjoyed the stories. It was fun doing the research on this.

FlourishAnyway on February 06, 2017:

Somehow I missed this one. My dad makes his own wings and has different versions of his recipe. He loves dipping sauces and blue cheese is one of his favorites. Thanks for your creativity and storytelling.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 22, 2017:

Absolutely! Although as of today I think the Super Bowl will be a rather somber event. Our team lost a week ago, and our #2 pick lost today. Oh well, there's still the ads, half-time, and the kitty bowl.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 22, 2017:

Let me know how you and the Super Bowlers like it. It's always a huge hit when I make it for gatherings.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 21, 2017:

Shauna - That sounds wonderful. I think this will appear on our Super Bowl Sunday menu. Thank you for sharing.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 21, 2017:

Diva, I just check the blue cheese dressing recipe. It calls for 1/2 c heavy (whipping) cream, 1 c mayo and 2 tbsp blue cheese or Roquefort. As I said, I add two containers of blue cheese to make it nice and thick.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 20, 2017:

Let me double check the recipe, Diva. I'm thinking the whipping cream to mayo ratio may be one to one and not as I stated in the original comment. I'm going by memory, which can't always be trusted in someone pushing 60!

I'll get back with you in a few days.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 20, 2017:

Brave warrior - I was sure I responded to you yesterday, but let's try again. To me macaroni and cheese plus tomatoes are a natural. Same flavors as tomato soup and grilled cheese, right?

Thank you for sharing your mom's recipe -- you had me with 'whipping cream'. How can anything that contains blue cheese AND whipping cream be a bad thing? LOL.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 19, 2017:

These recipes are making my mouth water! FYI, I agree that tomatoes are a wonderful way to flavor mac and cheese. I always line the top of my casserole dish with quartered roma tomatoes, then I go down the center in the form of an X. The tomatoes add moisture and a nice zing to the dish. I'll have to try the blue cheese topping next time I make it.

I have a very simple recipe for blue cheese dressing (actually, it's my mom's recipe). I haven't found a recipe that tastes better than this:

1 c whipping cream

1/2 c mayo (not Miracle Whip)

2 containers crumbled blue cheese (or crumble your own)

Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fold in the mayo and add the blue cheese. It works best if you do all this in a glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Note: my mom's recipe calls for a few tablespoons of the crumbled blue cheese. I like my blue cheese dressing thick and full of body, so I increased the blue cheese by quite a bit. It's so good I can eat it all by itself! It's great with celery sticks, carrots sticks, etc. Totally yummy!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 11, 2017:

Martie - Thank you for visiting--I think this is the first time I have heard from you. I hear may people say that they don't like blue cheese, but there are so many kinds. Perhaps the one that you sampled was more "assertive" than others. If my recipes have piqued your curiosity, might I suggest that you look for a milder cheese. Don't go for a Roquefort or Stilton. The Danish/German blues tend have a little less 'punch'.

If you do happen to try a blue again, and if you use one of my recipes, I would love to hear back from you.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on January 11, 2017:

Interesting hub about blue cheese! I honestly don't like the taste of blue cheese, but these recipes of you look delicious and worthy to try. Thank you, Carb Diva :)

Mary Wickison from Brazil on January 10, 2017:

Yes, a fruit and cheese board is ideal for those who don't prefer something sweet after a meal.

I am always surprised at how many people don't like a dessert.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 10, 2017:

Blond Logic - Good morning to you. One type of "dessert" that we enjoy is cheese and fresh fruit. Can you imagine a slice of Gorgonzola with a crisp pear? Or make a flat bread with puff pastry, crumble on some blue cheese and drizzle with honey?

Thank you for stopping by. If you are interested, I could develop some specific recipes and post them in another article. Let me know, OK?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 10, 2017:

Wonderful. Oh my all of these would suit Gabriel. Hmm which one tonight? I have a pork loin for dinner. I think a soup, as our family is Pho' oriented. But Gabe and I love potatoes and hamburgers (which he makes clear to me are not ham)

Thank you, I definitely will have a good time tonight as we celebrate God's bounty.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on January 10, 2017:

An excellent hub. I love blue cheese but this wasn't always the case. My mother use to request blue cheese on a salad, and I so hated the smell of it I couldn't sit next to her in a restaurant.

It wasn't until I was pregnant that I developed a love for it and now enjoy it whenever I can. Here in Brazil, they do make a good copycat of Gorgonzola and it is one of our favorites.

You have an interesting selection of uses for it, but not sure I would want it in a dessert.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 10, 2017:

Eric, so good to hear from you. When you didn't comment on my breakfast/brunch casserole article, I thought perhaps you had stopped following me. Yes, please go back and read it and let you know your thoughts. Does Gabriel like cheese? I know that blue (or bleu) is NOT a part of the Vietnamese diet, but maybe you can encourage him to try just a little.

Have a wonderful day my friend.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 10, 2017:

Well Bill, I had my fingers crossed on this one. Blue cheese is one of those love it or hate it foods---there is no in between. Sorry you are in the camp of 'haters', but guess that leaves more for the rest of us.

Yes, I'll keep trying. I have one about brie on the back burner. Maybe you would enjoy that one. I'll keep trying.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 10, 2017:

I'm not sure how you do it, Linda. Maybe it's intentional on your part, though I certainly hope not. I happen to love cheese....almost all cheeses...almost....but somehow you managed to pick one of the few I can't stand. How do you do that????

LOL....keep them coming, my friend! I love them even when I don't.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 10, 2017:

Oh boy Oh boy, another by Linda on a favorite food. Now I will go back and savor reading it and then going and getting some.