Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentines, don't be blue! Eat bleu!

On Valentine's Day, don't be blue. Eat bleu.
Cheese, that is.

While at the Bouchercon Conference last year, I volunteered in the book room. A librarian came up to me and said I absolutely must try Roaring 40's blue cheese, from King Island, Australia. I'd never heard of it. And then another person who called me "The Cheese Shop Lady" said I had to try it. Well, okay. I do listen.
Roaring 40's is savory yet sweet. It has won all sorts of awards.

Then I was reading The Cheese Chronicles, by Liz Thorpe, and she wrote a section on bleu cheeses and mentioned the Roaring 40's blue, as well as a number of others. Point Reyes "original" blue cheese was the cheese that stuck in my mind. As their website says, their blue requires three things: Grade A raw milk froma closed herd of Holstein cows that graze on certified organic green pastures; the coastal fog; the salty Pacific breezes.

And I thought...CHEESE TASTING. [I found both cheeses at Whole Foods.]

So to prepare for this week's blog, I decided to taste the blue cheeses. Fun, fun, fun!
And then prepare a meal.
I'd had the most wonderful salad at a restaurant in menlo Park, California a couple of weeks ago. A restaurant called Cedro's. [Shout out to a fabulous place!]

The chef prepared a salad with poached pears and Gorgonzola, and I thought...why not blue? I could do a bleu cheese salad. How do I poach pears?

I searched the internet, found a recipe for poaching pears in wine, and tried it, changing a few things to make it "mine."

I hope you enjoy. I served this to my husband and he flipped. [I think I got a royal kiss afterwards--perfect from a Valentine, don't you think?]

Here you go.

First start with the Poached Pears...

Ingredients for Poached Pears:
2 firm Bosc pears, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Zinfandel wine (or your preferred dry, hearty wine)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Bosc pears can keep their peels. So slice each pear into 8 slices.
In a saucepan, bring sugar, water, wine, lemon juice, and spices to a boil over high heat.
Lay in the pears and simmer 5-10 minutes, until tender, turning often.
Cool pears in syrup.

Then construct the salad:

Valentine's Day Salad

Bib lettuce
Bleu cheese slices (for this recipe I used one slice of each, Point Reyes and Roaring 40's)
Poached Pears (recipe above)

Lay 2-3 pieces of bib lettuce on a salad or dinner plate.
Arrange cooled 3-5 poached pears on each plate.
Arrange 2 slices of bleu cheese on either side of pears.
Decorate with raspberries.
Drizzle with the cooled syrup.

Remember to take a bite of the cheese with the pears and raspberries. The salt and sugar combo is supreme!


Congratulations to Helen K, who suggested our next Secret Ingredient for the Mystery Kitchen’s Iron Chef contest. What was the next ingredient? Take a look at the end of February! And keep reading MLK to find out how to enter our next contest!

And don’t forget Jenn’s cupcake contest! Enter your suggestion and name a fictional cupcake. It’ll be written into the new mystery: BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF. Send proof of your pre-order of SPRINKEL WITH MURDER along with your name and cup ake name to Jenn at:

Jennmck (at) yahoo (dot) com

and Congratulations to Krista who's selling The Diva Paints the Town with flying colors! Available on Amazon, B & N, and all your favorite independent bookstores!


  1. Wow, I am dying to try this recipe! We are huge bleu cheese fans here in our house, and this looks like a perfect combo. :)

  2. Blue cheese! Yum. I love the idea of poaching the pears with wine, pairing them with raspberries, and serving with cheese! This makes a great Valentine's Day salad, Avery!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. That made a beautiful salad. Poach Pears always sounded like it would be difficult, but with your recipe I think I could do it. A very special Valentine's Day dish. Thanks.

  4. What an elegant salad, Avery! Aside from Valentine's day, what a beautiful first course this would be for a dinner party. Lovely!

    And thanks for the congrats! : )

    ~ Krista

  5. I love blue cheese too. I will definitely see if I can find the Roaring 40's one. I love putting it on salad, but I have never tried it on a pear salad before. Yum!

  6. You sold me on the Roaring 40's -- must try it! Love your Bouchercon story, too, "Cheese Shop Lady," lol!

    Cheers and Happy Valentines Week!

  7. Thanks all for your comments. I thought poaching pears would be hard, too, but it's not. It's so easy. And I had leftovers and they were yummy right out of the Tupperware!

  8. I love bleu cheese -- oh, who am I kidding --
    I love all cheese! Great post, Avery. I am so
    looking forward to your book.

  9. love blue cheese... and wouldnt that make a great secret ingredient... hmmm

  10. How beautiful, Avery! This is so gorgeous and elegant. Thanks so much for sharing this! Romantic and delicious, right?