Friday, September 30, 2011

Bleu for you.

Blue cheese dressing. Iceberg and bacon optional. © Ryan Schierling

Ah, the classic iceberg lettuce wedge with blue cheese...

Cool. Crisp. Refreshing. A pungent cheese that speaks straight to the heart of a "stinky cheese" lover like me.

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of what Ryan calls "challenging cheeses." I'm pretty sure I come by it naturally, though. Big "shout out" to Mom and Dad, here, because unlike most American kids of my generation who were brought up eating Ranch dressing on every-freaking-thing, I grew up eating a lot of blue cheese. By this I mean it was the salad dressing of choice in our family. At restaurants it was always "four salads with blue cheese, please."

That simplicity quite possibly made up for some of our more ambitious meat-substitution requests when dining out. At home it was always either blue cheese or Roquefort, a blue cheese of a slightly different color, you know... for variety. About the only way I remember eating Ranch was as an occasional dip for raw vegetables. Even then I didn't get the appeal, and Thousand Island just seemed like a visit to the dark side.

Looking back, it's actually a little surprising that we never made blue cheese dressing from scratch when I was growing up. Granted, we were pretty picky about the brands we chose (the best supermarket varieties are in jars in the produce section) and there are plenty of bad blue cheese dressings out there. So, I very much appreciate the serendipity of having this wonderful recipe grace my repertoire via Steven, my fabulous father-in-law-in-a-former-life. I asked him, recently, how he had come upon it and this is the story he related.

"I couldn’t buy any so I had to make it. Brandy worked at a nightclub/restaurant in Fairbanks (Alaska) called the Boatel. It was an old paddle wheel river boat that ended its life after coming up the rivers to Fairbanks. They needed a dishwasher one night and I filled in. The kitchen was in the old wheel house and the ceiling was so low I had to stoop over. I washed dishes in a big double sink and worked weekends for quite a while. The cook, Rosie became a close friend and started me on cooking. She made her own house dressing and the Blue Cheese is loose version of it."

Thanks to Rosie, and Steve's awesome take on all things food, it's been years since we've bothered with store-bought. Little surprise, though, as this is such a straight-forward recipe. No fuss. No buttermilk. Thick and rich. It's solid.

And perfect for a week where Fall taunted us with some blissfully cooler temperatures – by that I mean the mid-90's – before cranking it back up into the 100's again. Hey, if we can't enjoy that nice late-September breeze through open windows at night quite yet, well... salad it is.

Or, perhaps as a dip for some crispy fried cauliflower "wings" – I shouldn't be a tease, but I think we'll save that recipe for another post....

Blue Cheese Dressing

4 oz Danish Blue cheese
3 tablespoons minced white onion
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/3 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise

Crumble blue cheese and blend all ingredients. (We make gentle use of the food processor for mixing, reserving about half of the blue cheese to crumble in and incorporate by hand.) Dressing should have chunks of blue cheese in it. Refrigerate for 24 hours to allow flavors to blend and dressing to thicken. Keeps for up to 2 weeks.

Crispy cauliflower with wing sauce and blue cheese. © Ryan Schierling


  1. Dawn - That will be my distinct pleasure!

  2. I absolutely love all cheeses, bleu cheese among them. Living in Spain for four years took its toll on my culinary palate.

    And I'm a big, big salad guy. We're talking big as in "I'll have the arugula and goat cheese salad - a second serving - for desert when everyone else was having the tiramisu.

    Yea, that looks awesome! And now I'm hungry again.


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