2016 – a new year, another 12 opportunities to try delicious cheese. Yes, that’s right, we are returning with another installment of Cheese of the Month Club.
Since we reeeeeally fell off track last year, even our longtime readers may need a refresher on this one. Each month, we receive a shipment from the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company (better known to us Yinzers as PennMac). Two pounds of incredible cheese arrives on our doorstep monthly: a half pound each of four different varieties. Every month has a different theme, most often a set from a specific country, although ‘most popular’ and ‘all free range’ appear as well.
This year, January brought an interesting start: the blue cheese sampler. This is both one of my favorites and least favorites each year. It’s a favorite because I (and Michael as well) LOVE blue cheese.
It’s a least favorite because it is SO hard to prepare and serve. Blue cheese is the most fall-apart-y cheese there is, and the struggle of trying to eat it with your hands (especially when trying to dip into mustard and sauces) is very, VERY real.
But so, SO worth it.
First up was the domestic Gorgonzola. This cheese was not too salty, and it was very creamy. We found it to be really approachable, and mild enough that it pairs with pretty much any of the dips and sauces you can throw its way.
The English seem to love to do weird things with cheese, and the English huntsman is no exception. This cow’s milk cheese is like a layer cake: a blend of Double Gloucester cheese with Stilton blue cheese in between. This gives a nice blend of textures as well. There is the compliment of creamy and crumbly, a very balanced, pleasant flavor, and a good earthiness.
The Danish blue moved more into the realm of stinky and salty, two characteristics that, while we hate them at the gym, we love in cheese. Danish blue has a strong flavor, and it was a great pair for the smokiness of the chorizo we picked up from Parma Sausage.
Since we weren’t entertaining guests, the easiest thing to do was eat the cheese with espresso spoons. Honestly, these cheeses went with the full range of dips and spreads, and although the saltiness of prosciutto and salami would seem to be a bit much with salty cheeses, as long as we had glasses of wine and water handy, it was more complimentary than overpowering.
Since two pounds of cheese is a lot for just 2 people to eat, we’ve decided this year to show you some of the non-cheese-plate things that we make with our Cheese of the Month Club supply.
Generally, I use some of the blue cheese in mashed potatoes, but this month, with the cold weather, I was craving comfort food, and that meant pasta. So, I decided to use some of the Danish Blue in a penne pasta dish from Tasty Kitchen. I had some mushrooms on hand, so I added those (12oz), but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter.
The result was a really creamy, rich-but-not-heavy sauce. I would have liked the sauce to be a bit thicker, honestly, but the flavor was excellent. I served it alongside a Cooking Light recipe of beef tenderloin with horseradish and roasted garlic crust (our last beef supply from Marty’s Market, ::tears::), some butter lettuce tossed in Italian dressing, and some baguette. It was a great meal, and really hit the comfort food craving well.
So while the blue cheese sampler might be the most difficult to eat at the table, it’s a delicious one that we always look forward to. Check back next month for A Taste of Switzerland!