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Blue Cheese and Fruit: A Classic Combination

October 4, 2018

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Mushrooms on toast. DESISLAVA VASILIVA | DREAMSTIME.COM

 

IRELAND HOPPING | By Margaret M. Johnson

I’ve just returned from a cruise that included stops in Spain, France and Italy. Believe it or not, no pasta or pizza, but lots of lovely salads with cheese, fruit, Spanish and Italian cured meats, and a delicious assortment of tapas, the small plates famous throughout Spain. For a taste of Ireland, here are similar recipes that all include Tipperary-made Cashel Blue cheese, now almost as famous as gorgonzola or Roquefort!

WILD MUSHROOM-BLUE CHEESE TOASTIES

SERVES 6

This tapas-like recipe comes from award-winning chef Kevin Dundon, proprietor of Dunbrody House in County Wexford. It’s part of a collection of recipes from Kerrygold, who imports Cashel Blue from Ireland.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling on baguette

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

12 ounces mixed wild mushrooms, such as chanterelle, oyster and shiitake,

cleaned and sliced

  • Salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, basil and chives
  • 1 baguette, cut into twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 tablespoons butter

4 ounces crumbled Cashel Blue Watercress, for garnish

  1. In large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add shallots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Stir in mushrooms and season with salt and pepper; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Add wine and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until evaporated; stir in cream and herbs and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and cheese.
  3. Melt butter in a heavy griddle pan. Grill baguette slices until marked on both sides; remove from heat and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. To serve, arrange two bread halves on six salad plates and spoon mushrooms on top; garnish with watercress.

Salad prosciutto.  PHOTO: MARGARET M. JOHNSON

 

 

 

SALAD WITH CASHEL BLUE, PROSCUITTO AND PEARS

SERVES 4

A few years ago I spent some time at Castle Durrow in County Laois. The menu there suits guests and locals alike who pop in for afternoon tea, a few drinks, or simple-but-eclectic meals like this salad featuring Cashel Blue cheese and Italian prosciutto.

For the dressing

4 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 

1/2 cup sherry vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch dried tarragon 

2/3 cup olive oil

Salt

Ground pepper

2 to 3 teaspoons water (optional)

For the salad

5 ounces mixed greens or spring mix

2 large Bartlett pears, cored and sliced (not peeled)

4 ounces crumbled or cubed Cashel Blue

8 slices prosciutto, sliced lengthways

Ground pepper

  1. Make dressing. In a small bowl or lidded jar, whisk or shake honey, mustard, vinegar, tarragon, oil, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add water to thin, if necessary.
  2. Make salad. Arrange greens and pears on four salad plates. Divide cheese and prosciutto over the greens; drizzle with dressing and a few grinds of pepper.

Blue cheese with apples. PHOTO: CASHEL BLUE

 

BLUE CHEESE AND APPLE SALAD

SERVES 4

Apples, blue cheese and figs topped a lovely salad I had for lunch in a café in a French seaside town — not so difference from ones I’ve had in Ireland.

5 ounces mixed greens or spring mix

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 to 3 figs, quartered

1/2 cup chopped pecans

6 ounces crumbled or cubed Cashel Blue, plus more for topping

2 tart apples, cored and thinly sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Salt

Ground pepper

  1. In a large bowl, combine mixed greens, cranberries, figs, pecans, cheese and apples.
  2. In a small lidded jar, combine oil, mustard, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper; shake to blend. Drizzle over salad and toss. Arrange on four salad plates and top with additional cheese.

POACHED PEAR AND CASHEL BLUE SALAD

SERVES 4

A whole poached pear tops this salad made with Cashel Blue and toasted walnuts. The recipe was inspired by one served at The Bishop’s Buttery in Cashel Palace Hotel in County Tipperary.

For the pears

750 ml bottle sweet white wine, such as Riesling

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

4 medium ripe pears, peeled, stalks left on

For the salad

1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt

Ground pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

5 ounces mixed greens or spring mix

4 ounces crumbled or cubed Cashel Blue

4 ounces toasted walnuts

  1. Make pears. in a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring wine, water, sugar, vanilla pod, and seeds to a boil. Add pears, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove pears and stand them upright on a plate. Let cool completely; refrigerate.
  2. Make salad. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper; slowly whisk in oil and tarragon. Toss greens with dressing and arrange on four salad plates. Place a pear in center of salad and sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts around it.

 

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page now includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, including how to order her cookbooks, visit www.irishcook.com

 

 

 

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